Hungarian GP - A confusing day
Head scratching was on the agenda in many garages in the Hungaroring pit-lane today. Unusual weather, with a short sharp burst of rain hitting the track for just a few minutes certainly caused some problems, but generally many drivers seemed to have difficulty assessing their performance on a track that is always dirty on a Friday, with tyres whose overall behaviour was tricky to assess. The Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro drivers completed a total of 97 laps between them, 47 for Felipe Massa and 50 for Kimi Raikkonen. At the end of 90 minutes of practice, the Finn ended up sixth fastest with the Brazilian right behind him.
The lap times at this tight and twisty circuit are always very close and today was no exception with under a second between first, Fernando Alonso for McLaren-Mercedes and eleventh, Ralf Schumacher for Toyota. Behind the Spanish World Champion, the only man under the 1'21" mark came Heikki Kovalainen in the Renault and series leader Lewis Hamilton in the second McLaren. Nico Rosberg was fourth fastest for Williams-Toyota, while Nick Heidfeld in the BMW-Sauber was just seven hundredths faster than Raikkonen.
Two new, but actually not so new names on the time sheet: joining Scuderia Toro Rosso where he has replaced Scott Speed, is Germany's Sebastian Vettel, who stood in for Robert Kubica in the United States GP, picking up a point for eighth place. In the Spyker camp, after Winkelhock had a one-off drive at the Nurburgring, his place has now been taken by Japan's Sakon Yamamoto.
"I am not very happy with the handling of my car in these two sessions and obviously we have a lot to do in order to improve," said Kimi. "But this is only Friday and there is no point in making a drama out of it as far as qualifying and the race are concerned. I wasn't able to get a really clear picture of the performance of the two types of tyre, especially on the first lap, firstly because of traffic and secondly because of that quick short shower."
Luca Baldisserri also said, "The way these three hours of free practice went revealed a slight difficulty on our part when it came to finding the right balance for the car, especially on Kimi's. We picked up a lot of data and we will have to analyse it very carefully to improve the situation for qualifying and the race. On top of this comes uncertainty over the weather and the influence that could have in terms of set-up, especially for qualifying which is so important. Therefore, it is easy to see why it is really difficult to make predictions for the rest of the weekend. The handling of the two types of tyre we have available is rather unusual so far: we have a big difference in terms of consistency of performance, while on the first lap the results are very similar."