Mercedes dominate final practice session in Sepang

Mercedes sent a commanding message to their rivals in the third and final free practice session in Malaysia by topping the times by over a second to their nearest rival.

Once again Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was the closest driver to the Mercedes duo but it was Nico Rosberg who topped the times, leading team-mate Lewis Hamilton by two tenths of a second. After Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel was the lead Red Bull driver ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo. Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, and Sergio Perez rounded out a top ten separated by two seconds. It was a troublesome session for McLaren who were struggling with sensor issues. Kevin Magnussen failed to set a lap-time while Jenson Button’s effort was 26 seconds off the pace. Lotus managed to get some running under their belts after a woeful Friday but ended the session in 15th and 16th.

Mercedes are looking strong going into qualifying but with the threat of rain looming it could give the order a shake-up.

2012: Hungarian GP: FP3

Free Practice 3

Mark Webber ended the third and final practice session fastest for Red Bull, 0.93s ahead of Friday pacesetter Lewis Hamilton. It was a hot and sunny, and therefore dry, session in contrast to the latter part of FP2, meaning that drivers were able to carry out runs on the soft compound tyre ahead of qualifying. Heikki Kovalainen was the first man out on track and he ended the session in nineteenth place, ahead of his team-mate Vitaly Petrov and behind Nico Rosberg. The Ferrari duo decided to wait in the garage until the halfway point in the session before taking to the track. Webber’s fastest lap-time was set with half an hour to go and no-one was able to topple him from the top, although Hamilton was not far behind. There were no major incidents, with Pastor Maldonado having a wobble coming into the pit-lane the most dramatic thing to happen. Who will be on pole position after qualifying is difficult to say – Button seemed to struggle on his soft tyre run, while it looks like the Lotuses and Ferraris are yet to unlock their full potential.

2012: Hungarian GP: Preview

This weekend marks round eleven of the championship, as well as the last race before the five week summer break, during which the teams must shut their factories down for a mandatory two week period. Hungary will play host to the race this weekend, an alternative home GP for Finnish drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Heikki Kovalainen, both of whom have won here before. The big talking point heading into the weekend is the controversy surrounding Red Bull’s engine mapping, which caused a stir before the German GP, when the FIA Technical Delegate Jo Bauer referred it to the stewards as he thought it to be against the regulations. Red Bull were allowed to race but have since been forced to make changes before this weekend’s race. Fernando Alonso took another commanding victory in Germany, extending his title lead, can he be stopped in Hungary?

Hungarian GP Stats

Circuit Name: Hungaroring
Number of Laps: 70
Circuit Length: 4.381km
Lap Record: 1:19.071 M Schumacher (2004)
2011 Results: 1. Jenson Button 2. Sebastian Vettel 3. Fernando Alonso

There are seven previous Hungarian GP winners still on the grid: Jenson Button, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen, Kimi Räikkönen, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.

Last Time Out

Fernando Alonso took another convincing win at the German GP just three days ago after securing pole position in another wet qualifying. He was hustled throughout the race by Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button although neither were able to catch or overtake. The race marked a return to form for Button, who has been struggling of late, as McLaren’s upgrades seemed to make a substantial difference to both his and Lewis Hamilton’s car, although Hamilton was unable to finish the race due to an early puncture. During the race Hamilton was seen fighting with and even un-lapping himself against Vettel which created a number of heated debates after the race. Vettel branded it “stupid” as it got in the way of his battle for the lead, but Hamilton was faster and had every right to make the move, as it is not stated in the rules that you cannot unlap yourself – and why should it be? On the way to second place in the race McLaren recorded the fastest pit-stop EVER (2.31s) – another positive for the team who look to be on the up once again. Vettel did finish the race in second place but was demoted to fifth with a 20s post-race penalty after he illegally overtook Button with all four wheels on the run-off area. Kimi Räikkönen took another podium after being promoted to third with Kamui Kobayashi an impressive fourth for Sauber with Sergio Perez in sixth for the team.

McLaren have said they are bringing further upgrades to their car for the Hungarian GP as they look to get back into both title fights. They are the most successful team at the Hungaroring, with four of the last five GPs here being won by them, so they look to have a good chance coming into the weekend, especially if it stays dry. Alonso has proven to be the on form guy at the minute with Felipe Massa, despite an accident in Germany, looking fast at recent races. Ferrari currently lie second in the constructors championship, but a continuation of their recent form, particularly that of Alonso, could see them close the gap to Red Bull. Sauber had a strong race last time out, as did Räikkönen for Lotus, with Grosjean unfortunate in qualifying and the race. It could prove to be a close battle for qualifying and the race, and with pole position, or at least positions higher up the grid, more important here than the likes of Germany, then getting all the performance out of the car on Saturday could be crucial. Heikki Kovalainen and Button both had their first victories in Hungary so could this weekend throw up another new winner or will it be one of the ‘old guard’ crossing the line first on Sunday?

Schedule

Local Hungarian Time

Free Practice 1 10:00 Friday
Free Practice 2 14:00 Friday
Free Practice 3 11:00 Saturday
Qualifying 14:00 Saturday
Race 14:00 Sunday

Don’t forget to check The H Duct for Free Practice, Qualifying and Race reports with a post-race discussion over at EnterF1.

2012: Australian GP: FP3

FP3 signalled the first time this weekend that the track was completely dry from start to finish. Teams took full advantage of this and the fact they had an extra set of tyres to send drivers out early in order to complete installation laps and further runs. The two Mercedes drivers were the first to set times, with both Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher having  ‘moments’ during their first laps. They were not the only drivers to do so however with other drivers such as Felipe Massa and Bruno Senna who had  spins but were able to continue. Ferrari had a disappointing session to end up down in 16th and 18th place.

Pedro de la Rosa set his first lap-time of the weekend in the HRT, albeit it seven seconds of the pace, suggesting that the team would be under pressure to qualify within the 107% rule. Both Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher’s sessions ended early when they both ended up stuck in the gravel, in separate incidents. Vettel appeared to get a wheel onto the grass which sent his car into a spin which he was unable to recover from. Schumacher had a similar incident  which brought out yellow flags. Romain Grosjean topped the times going into the last five minutes, setting his time on the softer compound, but it was Lewis Hamilton who ended on top as he went fastest in the last minute.

British GP: FP3

Free Practice 3

1. Vettel 1:31.401
2. Alonso 1:31.464
3. Webber 1:31.829
4. Massa 1:32.169
5. Maldonado 1:32.496
6. Button 1:32.956
7. Kobayashi 1:33.014
8. Rosberg 1:33.044
9. Perez 1:33.264
10. di Resta 1:33.423
11. Schumacher 1:33.551
12. Sutil 1:33.660
13. Hamilton 1:33.842
14. Barrichello 1:33.905
15. Petrov 1:34.042
16. Alguersuari 1:34.329
17. Buemi 1:34.799
18. Heidfeld 1:34.822
19. Kovalainen 1:35.225
20. Trulli 1:36.905
21. Glock 1:37.614
22. d’Ambrosio 1:38.068
23. Ricciardo 1:38.289
24. Liuzzi 1:38.568

First dry session of the weekend. The off-throttle blown diffuser row continued, with Christian Horner and Adrian Newey of Red Bull spent a lot of the session absent from the pit wall, presumably with the FIA. Mark Webber’s car had a problem which meant his car had to be taken apart. Michael Schumacher had a gearbox issue, and spent some of the session with his car up on the stand with the floor missing.

Turkish GP: Qualifying times

Q1

1. Massa 1:27.013
2. Vettel 1:27.039
3. Webber 1:27:090
4. Hamilton 1:27.091
5. Alonso 1:27.349
6. Button 1:27.374
7. Sutil 1:27.392
8. Maldonado 1:27.396
9. Petrov 1:27.475
10. Rosberg 1:27.514
11. Buemi 1:27.620
12. di Resta 1:27.625
13. Schumacher 1:27.697
14. Perez 1:27.778
15. Heidfeld 1:27.901
16. Alguersuari 1:28.055
17. Barrichello 1:28.246
18. Kovalainen 1:28.780
19. Trulli 1:29.673
20. d’Ambrosio 1:30.445 – (+5 place grid penalty)
21. Liuzzi 1:30.692
22. Glock 1:30.813
23. Karthikeyan 1:31.564
24. Kobayashi No time set (technical problems)

107% time – 1:33.103 – All qualified

Q2

1. Vettel 1:25.610
2. Rosberg 1:25.801
3. Hamilton 1:26.066
4. Webber 1:26.075
5. Schumacher 1:26.121
6. Alonso 1:26.152
7. Massa 1:26.395
8.Button 1:26.495
9. Petrov 1:26.654
10. Heidfeld 1:26.740
11. Barrichello 1:26.764
12. Sutil 1:27.027
13. di Resta 1:27.145
14. Maldonado 1:27.236
15. Perez 1:27.244
16. Buemi 1:27.255
17. Alguersuari 1:27.572

Q3

1. Vettel 1:25.049
2. Webber 1:25.454
3. Rosberg 1:25.574
4. Hamilton 1:25.595
5. Alonso 1:25.851
6. Button 1:25.982
7. Petrov 1:26.296
8. Schumacher 1:26.646
9. Heidfeld 1:26.659
10. Massa No time set