Charles Leclerc led the way on Friday at the 2023 Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix as Red Bull failed to stamp their authority.
The Ferrari man set a 1:17:686 to go 0.015s quicker than McLaren’s Lando Norris and claim the top spot in FP2 as teams took different approaches to the session. Red Bull and Mercedes didn’t do a proper qualifying simulation on soft tyres which left Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton and George Russell outside the top 10.
Two-tenths behind Norris was Pierre Gasly for Alpine, who didn’t set a time in the wet FP1 session, while Yuki Tsunoda and Esteban Ocon completed the top five.
Nico Hulkenberg was sixth ahead of the two Alfa Romeo’s – who didn’t do a soft tyre run either – with Fernando Alonso splitting Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu. Carlos Sainz was tenth but some way off his Monegasque teammate.
Issues or planned?
Red Bull’s absence from the top 10 was a shock to many given that they have been utterly dominant all year and brought upgrades to the Hungaroring worth two-tenths, according to the team.
Verstappen would not be pleased to be so far down the order but Perez had more issues after his crash in FP1, leaving a lot of work for the world champion to do alone. It could be a part of the plan after the first session was mostly rained out but they won’t be overjoyed with the final standings.
The same can be said of Mercedes without a soft tyre run and Russell plumb last but the Silver Arrows always find a way to turn it around on a Saturday and Sunday so they won’t be concerned.
The pecking order is still up in the air, though, with Ferrari only challenged by McLaren at the front of the field.