Bottas and Hamilton on top in Hungary second practice

Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W12. 30.07.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest
© XPB 

Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton were looking in good form as Mercedes took charge in a scorching second practice ahead of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest.

Having topped the morning session, Red Bull's Max Verstappen was complaining of poor balance and oversteer but was still third fastest by the chequered flag ahead of Alpine's Esteban Ocon and his own team mate Sergio Perez.

There were no significant issues or interruptions during the hour-long session, although AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda was largely missing in action and completed only one flying lap following repairs after his morning accident.

It was still hot and sunny at the Hungaroring when the drivers headed back out on track after lunch for the second hour-long Friday practice. Alfa Romeo were quick to get out, with both drivers having to make up for lost time: Kimi Raikkonen sat out FP1 in favour of reserve driver Robert Kubica, while Antonio Giovinazzi completed only five laps due to technical issues.

Many drivers were quick to follow them out, with most starting their session on the medium compounds although Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz and Nicholas Latifi took initial sets of the hard compound. Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas was soon on top with a time of 1:18.376s a full second quicker than Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon, although the French driver was on the radio notifying the Alpine pit wall about loose tape on the side pod that meant a quick return to pit lane.

Lewis Hamilton was next to set a time but was unable to match his team mate, slotting into second place with a 0.321s deficit. With the exception of Yuki Tsunoda (whose AlphaTauri was still being worked on by the pit crew after his morning accident), the Red Bulls were the last to head out with Max Verstappen soon inserting himself between the two Mercedes in second and Sergio Perez opening his account in fourth having set a purple final sector.

Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing RB16B. 30.07.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapes

Both Bottas and Verstappen improved their times with their second runs, the Finn still leading the way with a better time of 1:18.248s before Hamilton found extra pace to go top by a tenth. By now, some of the slower cars such as Latifi and his Williams team mate George Russell were making their first tours in soft tyres, with Aston Martin pair Stroll and Sebastian Vettel soon following suit. The fresher, quicker compound was enough to propel Vettel into second and Stroll into fourth in short order.

That heralded a general move by teams to soft tyres and qualifying runs, with Pierre Gasly jumping to the top with a time of 1:18.113s which was immediately trumped by the two Mercedes which found a full second on the AlphaTauri, Bottas' latest lap of 1:17.012s proving quicker than Hamilton by a slender 0.027s. There was also a good lap for Ocon putting him third ahead of Gasly, Vettel and Stroll with Verstappen yet to come out on softs but still seventh ahead of Ferrari pair Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

The Red Bulls finally emerged on the red-walled tyres, enabling Verstappen to move back into the top three albeit still three tenths off the pace of the two Mercedes drivers while Perez was only fifth quickest, over six tenths behind his team mate as he complained of understeer to the pit wall, while Verstappen was having the opposite problem and worrying about oversteer.

George Russell (GBR) Williams Racing FW43B. 30.07.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest

That concluded the time trials and teams turned their attention to longer runs to gather data on tyre degradation for the race. With the soft tyres only proving able to run for a maximum of 15 laps, now it was time for the top three to analyse the life of the medium counterpart with a view to using it at the start the race provided it was fast enough to make the cut in Q2. Alpine split the soft/medium test between Ocon and Alonso, while McLaren had Lando Norris gathering data on the hard compounds.

With the session concluding without significant incident, Bottas held on to the Friday honours ahead of Hamilton, Verstappen, Ocon and Perez. Gasly had been pushed back to sixth ahead of Alonso, Vettel, Norris and Stroll. Leclerc was the fastest Ferrari driver in 11th followed by his team mate Sainz, with Daniel Ricciardo 13th ahead of Raikkonen, Russell and Latifi. AlphaTauri managing to get Tsunoda back out in time for a single timed lap before the chequered flag that was good enough for 17th ahead of Haas' Mick Schumacher who pipped Giovinazzi while Nikita Mazepin was slowest and complaining about his feet burning.

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