Repaying the faith shown in him with his new contract, Nico Rosberg delivered a dominating performance in Second Practice for Sunday's Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix, ending up 0.595 clear of P2 man Daniel Ricciardo in his Red Bull. Sebastian Vettel took third, some 0.913 off of the raw pace of the Mercedes W07.
However, Rosberg was relatively unchallenged in the afternoon session, when teammate Lewis Hamilton spun at T11 early on, after completing jsut four laps. The Brit hit the tyre barrier side on, and managed to get his car going again, although the team decided not to run him again, needing to perform checks on the chassis. Hamilton paid a brief visit to the medical centre for a mandatory check, and his ego aside, he was fine. He ended up fifth.
Max Verstappen took fourth for Red Bull, with Kimi Raikkonen rounding out the top six. The two McLaren's ended a good day for the Woking team by finishing in seventh and eighth, Fernando Alonso edging Jenson Button as was the case on Friday morning. Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez ensured it was another strong day for Force India by completing the top 10.
But Mercedes, and Rosberg, will be happy with the work they've done on Friday. Red Bull were expected to be much closer to Mercedes than they actually were and when the drivers began their high-fuel race simulations, Rosberg was lapping in the 1:24 range, something no-one else got close to on a consistent basis over a stint.
Nothing between the Mercs
After displacing the early pace setter of Raikkonen, Rosberg's time of 1:21.961 was an extremely quick time. The question was how would Hamilton respond. Despite some understeer in the final sector, he lapped the Hungaroring in 1:21.960. Just 0.001 separated the two. This would have led to an interesting comparison of their race simulations later on in the session, after the Qualifying simulation that was so close.
However, at T11, Hamilton got onto the grip-less concrete and spun his car into the barrier, side on, registering 10.4G, meaning a trip to the medical centre was nonnegotiable. The brief red-flag was out mainly to repair the damaged tyre barrier and was soon recalled in.
After the red flag period had ended, drivers began to switch their attention to the SuperSoft tyre and race simulations on it. Rosberg kicked off with a 1:20.435, the fastest time of the weekend, and as it turned out, the session. He improved by 1.525 seconds from the Soft tyre. All eyes then switched to Ricciardo's attempt on the SuperSoft and to dismay from some, he was over half a second down on the German. Therefore, the Mercedes' duo's advantage over the head of the best of the rest is at least 0.595.
Vettel's best efforts were rewarded with the third best lap time, but was a massive 0.922 down on Rosberg's time, for a track that is a little over 2.7 miles long, shows that the team from Maranello are in trouble.
Alonso and Felipe Massa both had car issues with the former needing a floor change after running parallel down the grass on the pit-straight whilst Massa's Monkey seat made a break for freedom halfway through the session. A torrid morning for Jolyon Palmer was made worse when his Renault fuel-system was still needing o be fixed, which took a majority of the session, he got out for a few laps with around 15 minutes remaining.
Spins and Breakdowns
Hamilton was not alone in spinning off and making mistakes, with Verstappen suffering a massive lock-up into T1 on one of his fast laps. Rio Haryanto, lost the rear end of his Manor at T5 and spun 180. Numerous lock-ups were the order of the afternoon, with Esteban Gutierrez a member of that club.
Kevin Magnussen reported he thought he had a puncture after a spin at T2, copied soon afterwards by the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz, distracted by the broken down Sauber of Felipe Nasr. Sainz later stopped at T1, indicating "its something related to the engine" over team radio.
Hungarian Grand Prix - Second Practice times
1. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes - 1:20.435
2. Daniel Ricciardo - Red Bull + 0.595
3. Sebastian Vettel - Ferrari + 0.922
4. Max Verstappen - Red Bull +1.335
5. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes +1.525
6. Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari +1.623
7. Fernando Alonso - McLaren +1.893
8. Jenson Button - McLaren +1.952
9. Nico Hulkenberg - Force India +2.014
10. Sergio Perez - Force India +2.218
11. Esteban Gutierrez - Haas +2.238
12. Felipe Massa - Williams +2.246
13. Carlos Sainz - Toro Rosso +2.254
14. Valtteri Bottas - Williams +2.338
15. Romain Grosjean - Haas +2.429
16. Danill Kvyat - Toro Rosso +2.513
17. Kevin Magnussen - Renault +2.912
18. Marcus Ericsson - Sauber +3.002
19. Jolyon Palmer - Renault +3.093
20. Felipe Nasr - Sauber +3.551
21. Pascal Wehrlein - Manor +3.557
22. Rio Haryanto - Manor +3.830