BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo boosted Red Bull’s hopes of success at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix with the fastest times in both practice sessions on Friday.
On a circuit that reduces power output because of its tight and twisting nature, the Red Bulls should be confident of matching Ferrari and Mercedes for race speed.
Ricciardo has been in fine form, with five podium finishes in the past six races. At the British GP two weeks ago, he finished fifth after starting from 19th situation on the grid.
The Australian driver was 0.183 seconds quicker than Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari and 0.201 clear of Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas in the afternoon session.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen overcame a power failure that briefly forced him off track in P2 and finished fourth quickest, ahead of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes.
Vettel, the championship leader, leads Hamilton by one point after 10 races.
In the morning session, Ricciardo was 0.234 seconds quicker than Raikkonen and 0.372 ahead of Hamilton on a Hungaroring circuit that proved slippery despite warm weather conditions.
The red flag came out halfway through the afternoon session after Pascal Wehrlein lost control of his Sauber, swerving left across the track and into the barriers. The German driver told his team he was fine over the radio and climbed out unassisted. It took a few minutes for the crane to lift Wehrlein’s damaged car off the track.
Then, toward the terminate of P2, the flag came out again after British driver Jolyon Palmer mistimed his exit from the final corner, hitting the barrier side-on and damaging the right of his Renault.
Palmer has yet to score a point this season, and his Renault seat is reportedly coming under threat as Polish driver Robert Kubica continues his F1 comeback tender.
Friday’s two sessions will beget done itsy-bitsy to reassure him, seeing as he also crashed right at the terminate of the morning’s first practice.
The 4.4-kilometer (2.7-mile) track nestled in rolling hills just external of Budapest proved tricky for others, too.
Brazilian driver Felipe Massa span his Williams car coming out on Turn 5 during P2.
Vettel had a patchy sprint in P1, losing control of the rear of his car and spinning on Turn 9. Haas driver Romain Grosjean had a similar blip on Turn 11.
Italian driver Antonio Giovinazzi, filling in for Haas driver Kevin Magnussen, damaged his left wheel on Turn 11 and the red flag came out to briefly halt the session. Right at the terminate, Palmer crashed.
There is a final practice Saturday ahead of qualifying in the afternoon.