BUDAPEST, Hungary — Daniel Ricciardo gave Red Bull Racing’s latest round of aerodynamic upgrades some instant validation on Friday at the Hungaroring, leading the way in both free practice sessions ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Ricciardo’s fast lap of 1:18.455, set in the second 90-minute time block, was just .019 of a second off of Rubens Barrichello’s official track record of 1:18.436 set in 2004.
The Australian is seeking his second win of the season and second in Hungary this weekend.
“I can’t complain with that day after topping both sessions; it’s nice,” Ricciardo said. “We obviously brought some updates here and they seem to be working. I definitely feel like we have found some grip in various areas and taken a step in the right direction. We know this track usually suits us so it was important to come here and extract everything we could out of the car and make sure the updates did their job … which in turn can allow us to fight with the guys up front.”
“Being top of the time sheets is always nice, but we were able to replicate that pace in the long runs, which gives me confidence looking ahead to the rest of the weekend. Ferrari seemed to find a bit more pace in the afternoon, but I still managed to stay ahead, so all signs are good. I’m sure the other teams will bring a bit more tomorrow, but I also think we have a bit more to find. If we can put it all together, it could be a really positive weekend.”
Between the two rounds of practice, four red flags slowed the pace: two in the opening session and two in the second session.
A seven-minute red flag came out midway through FP1 when Antonio Giovinazzi lost control and went sideways into the barriers in Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, and appeared again in the dying moments of the session as Jolyon Palmer ran wide at Turn 4 and lost several pieces of bodywork after a heavy bump over the curbs.
“The car had been looking quite good even in the short track time I had in the session,” said Giovinazzi of his incident. “I lost the rear quite aggressively. It snapped on entry into turn 11. There was nothing I could do, to be honest. We’re checking to see what happened. The track time is important for me. I lost out on 50 minutes of FP1, so I’m disappointed for myself and also for Kevin.”
In FP2, Palmer endured more woe as he crashed at the final corner in the second half of the session, bringing things to a standstill just nine minutes after Pascal Wehrlein crashed his Sauber heavily into the barriers at Turn 11.
All the while, Sebastian Vettel overcame handling issues from the first practice to post the second-fastest lap of the day, stopping the clocks at 1:18.638 in his Ferrari.
Valtteri Bottas was the best for the Mercedes Silver Arrows, going third-quick on the overall time sheets ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, whose top lap came in the opening session.
Lewis Hamilton completed the top five in the second Mercedes ahead of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull, with that half dozen separated by less than half a second on the stopwatch.
Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault, Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda, Carlos Sainz’s Toro Rosso and the second McLaren-Honda of Stoffel Vandoorne were the balance of the top 10.
Full practice results can be viewed on the next page…