Mercedes show staggering pace to top FP1 in Hungary
Photo by Darko Bandic/Getty Images

After going to a different track for the first time this season many teams were looking to see where they fit in the pecking order when it comes to high downforce.

Unfortunately for the rest of the field, Mercedes dominated the first practice session with Lewis Hamilton setting a 1.16.003 on the hard tyres beating Valtteri Bottas by only 0.086 seconds whilst on mediums.

The pace advantage was made very clear as only Racing Point could get within a second of the German manufacturer. Sergio Perez was the better of the two only finishing 0.527 seconds behind Hamilton with Lance Stroll being 0.964 seconds off the pace.

Showing again Perez' strength in the car right when the team may have to make a difficult decision on its driver lineup for next year and beyond.

  • Struggling signs for Red Bull?

On a track that notoriously suits the philosophy of the Red Bull team, the drivers did not put a convincing performance in with Max Verstappen ending up in eighth 1.432 seconds behind Hamilton.

Frustrations were shown after last weeks argument over the radio with the team, with it happening again today and his anger showing on track with other drivers proving to be a testing time for the Dutchman.

Alex Albon did not help the cause either still struggling to get within a few tenths of his teammate finishing in P13 and 1.724 off the pace of Hamilton.

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  • Encouraging signs for Ferrari

Ferrari had a much more optimistic session to any they have had so far this season. Ending up in sixth and seventh Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were only bettered by the Mercedes and Racing point pairs and Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault.

This is a true change in philosophy for the Maranello based team as for the last few years the car has been better at power circuits and low downforce configurations whereas with the worse engine they currently have they appear to be optimizing the high downforce track well so far.

  • Midfield concern

Seeing the Racing Point taking a substantial leap and the Ferraris getting slightly back up the pecking order the midfield teams such as McLaren and Renault appear to have fallen to the lower reaches off the top 10 or just outside of it.

If not for the time that Ricciardo had put in, the two teams that appear to be on the up all of a sudden have four teams in a field that may be too far out of reach at downforce dependant tracks.

With Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon and Carlos Sainz taking P9, P10 and P11 and Albon expected to find the pace to get ahead, two drivers from the teams or just one team are going to be very disappointed not to make Q3 come Saturday afternoon.

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  • Back-field now a thing?

With the top teams and midfield taking a step forward, the rest seem to be in a class of their own towards the back. Haas and Williams having a strong morning session whereas the same cannot be said for Alfa Romeo and Alpha Tauri who are probably underperforming so far in Hungary.

Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen seem to be following in the power unit suppliers footsteps as they had a promising performance in FP1. 

The same can be said for George Russell and Nicholas Latifi who have managed to get both cars not finishing in the bottom two of the field on merit showing the improvements Williams have made.

 

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