2021 Hungarian Grand Prix – FP1 & FP2 report: Could Bottas upset the title fight?

After two weeks which has seemed to split the Formula One fanbase in two, it was nice to see some on-track action for a change. Lewis Hamilton is coming into this weekend hoping for his 9th win at the Hungaroring. But this track is nicknamed “Monaco without walls” and given the dominance shown by Red Bull in Monaco a few months ago, this could be another tense weekend.

Let’s get straight into the Friday action.

FP1

Max Verstappen was fast out of the gate and looking to get back at Mercedes right away. He set the initial pace on the hard tyres. Lewis Hamilton was not happy with the setup of his car. He complained of understeer and could not keep up with Max or Bottas throughout the session

Fernando Alonso turned 40 this weekend and proving that he’s still human behind the wheel. Credit: F1

The condition were very hot in Budapest and teams were hesitant to use the medium tyres. However, McLaren decided to avoid the hard tyres for Lando Norris and use the Medium tyres. An unusual move for McLaren but time will tell if this could pay off when Sunday arrives.

Kimi Raikkonen was absent from this session as Robert Kubica took over his seat. It’s always great to see Kubica behind the wheel of a Formula One car. He was responsible for much of Alfa Romeo’s running as Giovinazzi was stuck in the garage. Antonio was only able to complete five laps putting him on the back foot for the weekend.

Giovinazzi was not the only one who had trouble though as Fernando Alonso had a high-speed spin on the exit of turn 4 which saw him in the pits for a while.

But for Yuki Tsunoda his escapades at turn 4 were more session ending. With less than a third of the session remaining, Yuki got a bit greedy on the entry kerb into turn 4 which spun his car around and put him in the wall. This brought out the red flag.

After the car was cleared and the barrier was repaired, the drivers started to emerge on the soft tyres. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen almost had a little moment in the pit-lane, coming out at the same time.

But at the end of the session, it was Max Verstappen who managed to pip Bottas to the top of the timing sheets by only 0.067 seconds. Hamilton was a further tenth behind in 3rd place.

FP2

The temperature climbed up even further for the afternoon session and the teams looked to make the most of it. 19 out of the 20 cars were all out on track within the first few minutes of the session. Most teams opted for the Medium tyres to gauge their qualifying and race potential.

Lewis Hamilton looked better in the afternoon session, but still lost out to Bottas on Quali runs. Credit: F1

But while Tsunoda was stuck in the garage after his crash, Gasly was out putting on a good show in the other AlphaTauri. He put his car in 5th place early in the session. Tsunoda’s car required a new gearbox and and whole new rear-end. It would be a push to get him out before the end of the session.

Out on track though, it was Lewis Hamilton who set the early pace. After some balance issues in the morning session, he looked to be a bit more comfortable.

Max was complaining that he was still having some balance issues from the morning session. But he wasn’t far off the Mercedes pair in third as the teams now switched the focus to qualifying runs.

Bottas came alive and managed to get ahead of Hamilton by 0.027 seconds. Verstappen waited a little longer to do his qualifying run, but Max’s run was far from clean. A clean last sector saw him nearly 3 tenths off Bottas and Hamilton. Far from ideal.

Esteban Ocon was showing some resurgence by putting his Alpine in 4th place, ahead of Sergio Perez, who didn’t look comfortable over both sessions, nearly half a second off Max Verstappen.

With only 2 minutes to go, Tsunoda left the garage and he would only be able to set a single flying lap. It was far from an impressive time, only managing to get his car in 17th place. It would be a big day for him tomorrow.

Why does Tsunoda keep crashing?

This is now the fourth time in 12 races that Yuki Tsunoda has brought out the red flag. With results not being the best as well, a lot of doubts are starting to dwell on Yuki’s place in Formula One.

Yuki hit the wall hard with his crash and meant it was a delayed start for him in FP2. Credit: F1

Of course, he is the youngest driver on the grid and this is his first season in Formula One, so you have to give him some leniency in his performance.

But while we mock Nikita Mazepin for some of his antics on tracks this season, Yuki has not been much better with his crashes.

Now, I do not believe that Yuki should be chucked out of his seat at AlphaTauri because he clearly has a lot of pace and potential, but he just needs to start being more consistent and keep his car out of the wall. The Summer break could be crucial for Yuki to reset and go again.

FP1 Full classification

FP2 Full classification

Grid Talk Podcast

Want more content before the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend? Check out the Grid Talk Hungarian Grand Prix Prixview! This week George Howson is joined by Philip Mathew, Jack Watson and Alex Booth. Both video and audio versions of the show are down below:

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