Fernando Alonso, Ferrari

Hungarian GP – Rain Gods Score Hat Trick
Hungaroring, 27 July – The various nationalities represented the length of the pit lane – and there are dozens of them – like to poke gentle fun at one another based on their perceived characteristics. So of course, with the English, the most well represented country in F1, it’s easy to mock their preoccupation with the weather, the basis of most conversations they have. However, it seems that the whole paddock is now Anglicised in its obsession with cloud formations and with good reason: today was the third consecutive race Friday that has had at least part of its three hours of practice disrupted by rain.

Given that the heavy rain that fell around halfway through the afternoon session had not been predicted, it did a good job of disrupting everyone’s work schedule. As usual, the biggest casualty on the job list was the dry tyre evaluation over a long run, so vital to help plan Sunday’s race strategy. However, as Fernando Alonso pointed out, it was the same for everyone. The Scuderia Ferrari driver ended the day with the fifth fastest time, having been third quickest in the morning. In the other F2012, Felipe Massa went from seventh in the morning to fourth come the end of the day. Between them, the two Ferrari men racked up a round century of laps, 54 for the Brazilian and 46 for the Spaniard.

Keeping up with its avowed intent to bring new developments on the car for every race, here the team had further aero updates to evaluate on a track that requires maximum downforce. The Hungaroring threw up no particular surprises and the hierarchy was not clear to see given the conditions, but just five days after the cars were packed away at Hockenheim, there is not much reason to think it has changed. Indeed, the McLarens that pushed Alonso hard on his way to that German GP win have topped both time sheets today, with Lewis Hamilton quickest throughout. In the afternoon, he was followed by Kimi Raikkonen for Lotus and Bruno Senna in the Williams. Completing the top six behind Felipe and Fernando was Jenson Button in the other McLaren.

Hungarian GP – 100 laps at the Hungaroring
Trying to stop rain falling on Friday at a Grand Prix while the F1 circus crosses Europe from West to East would seem to be as futile as King Canute’s attempt to stop the waves reaching the beach. It rained on Friday in Silverstone, then last week it did the same in Hockenheim and contrary to all forecasts, it also rained today at the Hungaroring. The rain today definitely caused less of a nuisance than at the two previous days of free practice, but it was still enough for none of the 24 drivers entered in the race to evaluate both types of dry tyre over a long run, because the rain began to fall at around the halfway point of the second session.

Fernando Alonso: “What’s to say, the usual Friday, at the end of which it is always difficult to hypothesise on how things will go in qualifying or the race. Even more so when it rains, as happened over the past three race weekends. Because of this afternoon’s rain in fact, we did not manage to try the dry tyres over a long run but, at least in the morning we managed to complete the work relating to the aerodynamic updates which we brought here in Hungary. Now it’s up to our engineers to do all the analyses to put together the best possible package for the rest of the weekend. Here, qualifying is definitely more important than elsewhere: it will therefore be vital to go into every little detail to be as well prepared as possible for tomorrow. The unknown relating to tyres? It’s the same for everyone as was the case in Silverstone and Hockenheim!”

Felipe Massa: “All in all, it was a good day, with the only inconvenient factor being the rain, which arrived halfway through the afternoon, which prevented us doing the planned long run to understand the tyre behaviour, However, it was not just our problem, as everyone found themselves in the same situation. All the same, we did manage to get a reasonably clear idea on tyre performance and on that of the car, but it’s really too early to judge where we are compared to the others. There are definitely some cars that are going quickly, as indeed was the case in Hockenheim. But we are well aware that the results of the first day at the Hungaroring always need to be taken with a pinch of salt because at the start of the weekend, the track is always very dirty and the situation changes radically from Friday through to Sunday. Let’s see how things go tomorrow. We realise we need to do everything as well as possible to get the very most out of what we have to work with.”

Pat Fry: “We did a hundred laps between our two drivers, but much less than half of them were really significant in terms of evaluating the performance of the F2012 on this track. As usual on Friday, we had a lot of work to get through, especially as far as the car’s aerodynamics are concerned. Luckily, the rain, which seems to be always with us in this long summer part of the season, arrived when this part of our work had been completed: we picked up a raft of data which we now need to analyse, both on the track and back in Maranello, to decide not only the configuration of the car for the rest of the weekend, but also to continue our development work for the second part of the season. We had no reliability problems, which is always positive. From the little one can see of the others, it only goes to show what we said before the weekend: there are some cars that are faster than us and if we want to have even the slightest chance of beating them, we must do everything perfectly. It won’t be easy, but we will give it our best shot as usual.”

First session Second session
Driver Pos. Time Laps Pos. Time Laps Chassis
F. Alonso 3rd 1.23.397 24 5th 1.22.582 22 296
F. Massa 7th 1.23.904 25 4th 1.22.417 29 294

First session: air 26 °C, track 33/37 °C. Sunny
Second session: air 32/28 °C, track 42/32 °C. Sunny, cloudy, rain half way through the session

Hungarian GP – The only surprise is the rain
Hungaroring, 27 July – McLaren remained ahead of everyone in the afternoon at the Hungaroring, the stage for the 11th round of the Formula 1 World Championship. After dominating the morning session, Lewis Hamilton again set the fastest time (1.21.995), this time ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus (1.22.180) and the Williams of Bruno Senna (1.22.253).
Next up were the Ferraris of Felipe Massa (1.22.417) and Fernando Alonso (1.22.582) with the fourth and fifth times that were among the best performances before a surprise shower halfway through the session forced the whole grid to return to the pits. Returning to the track about 20 minutes before the end of the session thanks to a slight improvement in the weather, the Ferrari drivers tried out the two wet tyre compounds – first Extreme then Intermediate for Felipe, just Intermediate for Fernando – to evaluate their performance on the Hungarian track. Both drivers put in some pit stops and practice starts before coming back into the pit lane for the last time. The action will begin again tomorrow morning at 11am with the third and final session of free practice.

Hungarian GP – A studious session
Hungaroring, 27 July – The first free practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix, the eleventh round of the Formula 1 World Championship has just taken place at the Hungaroring. McLaren topped the time sheet with Lewis Hamilton first in 1.22.821 and Jenson Button second in 1.22.922. Fernando Alonso was third fastest for Scuderia Ferrari in 1.23.397, while in the other F2012, Felipe Massa was seventh in 1.23.904, while working on a busy programme, trying various aerodynamic configurations. Both men shared the work of testing the new wings introduced at Hockenheim and right at the start of the session, the Brazilian also evaluated the front wing further, running a pressure sensor. Both men used the Medium tyres. The next session starts at 14h00.