Friday wrap-up from Hungary

While the Hungaroring marks just over the halfway mark of the season, with still arguably many more laps to turn before one can even think of the championship, the duel between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton is more intense than ever. The pressure both are feeling must be palpable, I don’t care what anyone says, including the drivers themselves.

The stakes this weekend could not be higher. Rosberg would love to add another seven points or more to his column. For Lewis Hamilton a win is not absolutely necessary, but as everyone breaks for the summer he will be desperate to finish in front of his teammate. Whether that is a first over second or a second over third does not matter quite frankly all that matters is that Hamilton gets some points back and that he goes into the break with an edge. As of today, Friday, advantage Lewis.

As for the rest of F1’s supporting cast here is my Friday wrap-up with the rest of the top finishers. Note: all this could change depending on qualifying, but all things being equal here are some thoughts.

Sebastian Vettel – If any track is going to play to his strengths or at least not penalize him for his lack of strength with the current car, this will be it. Remember Monaco, Vettel was strong there as well until the car let him down. Vettel looks like he could finish either on the podium or just off it in fourth depending on his teammate’s competitiveness.

Fernando Alonso – Would I be going out on a limb to say yet again this guy is the best out there and continues to show us why? However, I don’t think the Ferrari has the pace to finish any higher than fifth or sixth. Unless the rain comes and mixes up the order or there is some drama in front of the Spaniard he will not reach the podium, again.

Kevin Magnussen – The Dane looks like he is past the slump which affected his performance and it looks to me that McLaren have actually improved the car if only slightly. Four places and seven-tenths in front of Jenson Button is very impressive. This is the rookie that I want to see really turn it up in the second half of the season and I think he can do it. However it is the racing not the practicing that counts and young Mag needs to have an error-free race. I will be pulling for him.

Kimi Raikkonen – The Finn said he was much happier with the car in Germany, but the result would have us believe something else. In FP1 Raikkonen was in front of Alonso and in FP2 he was only three-tenths behind his teammate. Maybe he is more at ease with the car, but let’s wait to see how his race develops before any real conclusion is to be made.

Daniel Ricciardo – Ok, so we know he is fast, we know he can drive these less downforcey cars well, and we know he can mix it up with the best. Now, can he drive around a problem the way Alonso or Hamilton can? There is still some time to dial out the oversteer but if not lets see what the kid can do with an unbalanced car. Or if the team can give Ricciardo the car he wants by 2pm local standard then I like the Aussie for the last step on Sunday.

Valtteri Bottas – I am slightly surprised Williams is not just a bit further up the pylon. That being said I have noticed on several occasions that by the end of qualifying Valterri Bottas and Felipe Massa are in much higher positions than I would have thought. So are Williams playing their cards close to their chest? Maybe, and if so then it will be fascinating to see who is the number two team going into the break, the one that pushes energy drinks and make you want to skydive without a parachute or the one that invites you to relax and enjoy an aperitif in a sidewalk cafe.

Jenson Button – A second McLaren in the top ten can only confirm what I have already said. Woking has made genuine improvements to the MP4-29. Jenson finished eighth in Germany and Magnussen might have finished in front of Button had it not been for the coming together with Massa. If McLaren can develop their car specific to track conditions tomorrow I see no reason why both drivers cannot perform well in the race on Sunday.

Felipe Massa – Does Massa have more pace than what the leader board shows? My guess is yes he does. A good qualifier, I fully expect Massa to be much closer to his teammate tomorrow and if he can stop driving like a rookie and remember that there are 21 other cars that he has to share the tarmac with, oh and by the way also settle down, then Williams will have two very good chances of moving further in front of Ferrari in the constructors race come the checkered flag on Sunday.

Ok so Friday is in the books and there are two more hours of track time before everyone puts it all on the line. Will Hammy get one back? Can Vettel re-establish some supremacy? Is Raikkonen about to finally get a result over Alonso or will he be the only driver not to beat his teammate going into the summer break? Did McLaren find some pace? Everyone wants to finish off with a positive result but not everyone will. Man I love this sport…

Below are the results of FP2
2014 Hungarian Grand Prix – Free Practice 2 Result
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:24.482 38
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:24.720 0.238 38
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:25.111 0.629 33
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:25.437 0.955 26
5 Kevin Magnussen McLaren 1:25.580 1.098 34
6 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:25.730 1.248 30
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing 1:25.983 1.501 29
8 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:25.999 1.517 37
9 Jenson Button McLaren 1:26.234 1.752 33
10 Felipe Massa Williams 1:26.402 1.920 18
11 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:26.689 2.207 42
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:26.703 2.221 37
13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:26.789 2.307 39
14 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 1:26.919 2.437 41
15 Sergio Perez Force India 1:27.013 2.531 39
16 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:27.019 2.537 40
17 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:27.021 2.539 14
18 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1:27.480 2.998 32
19 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham 1:28.370 3.888 35
20 Jules Bianchi Marussia 1:28.469 3.987 26
21 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 1:28.586 4.104 35
22 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 1:29.036 4.554 34

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