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Vettel in control In Budapest; Lotus and Ferrari challenge As Mercedes Fall Back
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Posted By: Matt Meadows  |  26 Jul 2013   |  4:13 pm GMT  |  64 comments

It is going to take something special for anyone to beat Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel this weekend in Budapest. The reigning champion topped the time sheets in both the morning and afternoon sessions, ahead of team mate Mark Webber as Red Bull demonstrated superiority in both single lap and long run pace.

But it was close in the afternoon; Webber was 4/100ths off his team mate on a single lap qualifying simulation, with Romain Grosjean and Fernando Alonso all within 0.16s of Vettel’s time.

However on the long runs the Red Bull looked ominously fast with both the soft and medium compound tyres, with track temperatures reaching 46˚c this afternoon. Higher temperatures are forecast for Sunday and teams are concerned not just with overheating the medium tyre (which has the lower working range of the two) but also of their cars in general.

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg was practising new techniques aimed at allowing the engine run lower revs and therefore cooler in the long runs this afternoon.

The Hungaroring is one of only two current tracks (along with Austin) that Red Bull and Vettel have yet to register a race victory, and with Vettel breaking his duck in the German GP, this weekend could leave them with only Austin as an un-ticked box.

Although Vettel ended the session just a tenth and a half ahead of Grosjean, a rapid rise in track temperature following Vettel and Webber’s quickest time flatters those that set their fastest lap later in the session.

As usual, Red Bull spilt their strategy for the long stints in second half of the session as they sought data on both tyre compounds. They, along with Lotus, showed consistent pace especially on the soft tyre on which they will complete the first stint of Sunday’s GP. Lotus can arguably run longer on the soft tyre and if they can reproduce Grosjean’s single lap form of today in qualifying they have a chance to attack Red Bull on Sunday.

The second Lotus – in the hands of Kimi Raikkonen – was unable to match the single lap pace of the front-runners after being baulked by Jenson Button during his qualifying simulation but Lotus has strong race pace on both the soft and medium tyre.

With the pit-lane speed limit being set at 80kph from this weekend the teams have been given an extra variable when considering the number of pit-stops for the race. This slower speed will have engineers and strategists studying a likely two stop strategy, with two stints on the medium tyre. This will dictate qualifying strategy as team wanting to go that way will want to save new medium tyres in qualifying.

If the temperatures are as brutal as predicted, it may force many teams onto a three-stop race, but Lotus will be looking to make characteristically fewer stops in order to put themselves in the hunt for victory.

It look like it could be a weekend of damage limitation for Mercedes, with their lack of running on Pirelli’s new spec tyres proving crucial as they fell short of the Red Bull and Lotus pace. The Mercedes pair ended the day in sixth and seventh places, but with one lap pace being their forte so far in 2013 it could be a difficult weekend for the Brackley squad unless inspiration strikes tonight.

“Red Bull looked very, very good today. I don’t think we have the speed this weekend,” said Rosberg.

“Red Bull seems very quick and some other teams are also going to be quicker than us in the hot conditions of the race. We just need to make the most of it and get a lot of points.”

Ahead of the Mercedes pair are the two Ferraris, headed by Fernando Alonso in fourth place. Qualifying has been the team’s Achilles Heel this season, but this looks like a far more competitive showing.

“Here, more than at other tracks, starting from the front is extremely important and for this reason I believe that everyone will try and optimise their cars for qualifying, even if it means sacrificing a bit for the race,” said Alonso.

They have a strong chance of re-taking their place of second in the Constructors’ Championship as they sit just three points behind Mercedes.

Jenson Button has said that he believes McLaren are set for a more positive result this weekend, and the Briton ended the day within a second of Vettel in ninth place, perhaps not as big a step as they had hoped given the amount of updates on the car and the fact that historically this has been a strong McLaren track. They have won five of the last six Hungarian Grands Prix.

HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX, Budapest, Free Practice
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m21.264s 34
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m21.308s +0.044s 42
3. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m21.417s +0.153s 40
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m21.426s +0.162s 34
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m21.544s +0.280s 37
6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m21.802s +0.538s 42
7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m21.991s +0.727s 40
8. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m22.011s +0.747s 32
9. Jenson Button McLaren 1m22.180s +0.916s 41
10. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m22.304s +1.040s 41
11. Paul di Resta Force India 1m22.526s +1.262s 39
12. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m22.529s +1.265s 37
13. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m22.781s +1.517s 36
14. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m22.837s +1.573s 42
15. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m22.841s +1.577s 39
16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m23.369s +2.105s 34
17. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m23.411s +2.147s 41
18. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m23.646s +2.382s 34
19. Charles Pic Caterham 1m24.325s +3.061s 38
20. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m25.065s +3.801s 36
21. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m25.143s +3.879s 39
22. Max Chilton Marussia 1m26.647s +5.383s 33

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64 Comments
  1. K says:

    Webber was on similar pace so he could beat him. And Lotus will probably do 1 stop less so they have a huge shot at it too?

    1. AlexD says:

      Based on what you think they will do a one stop less?

    2. Ryan says:

      I’d bet ANYTHING that Webber somehow has a really bad start Sunday if he qualifies well(which he will)…. I know it sounds nuts but I’m sure RBR have been sabotaging his starts remotely. It happens every time he starts too close to or in front of Vettel if it’s on a track that Webber loves and has a good record(he loves budapest… Yes, RBR will screw Webber over again -and screw over whoever takes his seat next season..Which is why Kimi won’t join.

      1. Wilma the Great says:

        Then Webber must really hate the German GP, because his getaway there was explosive.

      2. Fireman says:

        Or Webber is just poor at starts.

      3. Rockie says:

        lol people are still on this?

      4. Dominationisboring says:

        I agree they will and have been sabotaging webbers starts….. How is it possible that one person can have so many bad starts without improving, if it was me i would be practicing reaction times, clutch control or whatever until i got it right.

      5. DK says:

        You are so right …. poor Mark.

      6. SteveS says:

        “I know it sounds nuts”

        Indeed. And yet you could not stop yourself from saying it anyway.

  2. LewisTheBest says:

    rewatch the FP2. neither kimi or romain able to make the soft compound last as long as rbr duo.

    “Arguably” huh??

  3. deancassady says:

    As mentioned, by me, many times before, Vettel shows ominous form.
    But it ain’t over yet.
    I have a growing feeling that the trajectory of McLaren, upwards, seems confirmed; they could surprise with a podium.
    I am hoping for a Lotus split strategy; with the higher qualifying Lotus driver on a straight drag against (likely) Red Bull, shooting for victory by similar pace, and (even slightly) longer stints; and the seond qualifying Lotus to go for the likely one-stop-less strategy that they may be the only team capable of doing successfully, and with the long pit stop time, with the new reduced pit lane speed, maybe be a winning strategy.

    1. ferggsa says:

      I do hope you are right

    2. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      You are right.

  4. Franco says:

    It dissapoints me to say this but it’s looking more and more likely Vettel has this championship in the bag.

    James, I can’t remember what year it was but I do recall Schumacher bluffed everyone and did a 4 stop race, any chance teams may consider this especially as they now have this Mickey Mouse DRS to help overtaking.

    1. justafan says:

      The Schumacher 4 stopper was in 1998 I guess.

      1. Robert Gunning says:

        Possibly, but more famously: Magny-Cours 2004 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004_French_Grand_Prix

      2. Tealeaf says:

        Yeah the stuff that Schumacher could do in an F1 car is far beyond what he did at Mercedes but because he is just so brilliant he could even fight it out with Rosberg even when in his 40′s, I wonder what the likes of Hamilton would drive like in their 40′s, I suspect pretty average.

      3. eetFrog says:

        Well done Tealeaf for getting your customary dig at Hamilton in there, in a post about Schumacher and DRS!

        I can well see Vettel doing 4 stops tomorrow, he’ll be so far ahead he’ll have the luxury of being able to do so.

  5. goferet says:

    Aah, I see the Red Bulls have decided to come out and play, for that was pretty strong pace displayed by the team.

    Yes, it appears the new, more durable Pirellis are just what the doctor ordered.

    Lotus look competitive too in particular over one lap but taking into account the fact that it was Grosjean that qualified P2 last year, it seems the track is more Grosjean friendly >>> Kimi didn’t look comfortable out there plus he’s been having all kinds of issues.

    Of all the tops teams Ferrari look the slowest for not only is their single lap pace not good e.g. FP2 in 2012, they were 4th and 5th and qualified 6 and 7th.

    But also, Ferrari’s long run pace didn’t look great either so much so that Brundle noted that the team looks like it lacks traction.

    Mercedes appear to have been concentrating mainly on trying to understand the new tyres so the drivers aren’t really sure where they lie in the pecking order but at least they’re 100% confident, pole and the win is out of the question.

    Mclaren have shown an improvement in pace but this could partly be due to the fact that Mclaren has always gone well at twisty circuits such as Monaco, unfortunately for Jenson, he has never finished higher than 5th in the dry.

    In conclusion, despite Red Bull’s strong showing, I doubt Vettel has this in the bag because we haven’t had a back to back winner in 2013.

    Vettel tried this at Silverstone and instead got a DNF for his efforts.

    1. Fireman says:

      Kimi had too much understeering. He suspected new tires require a bit more setup work. If Lotus can sort things out today he’ll do better.

  6. Glennb says:

    Good onya Mark. You’ve got ‘em just where you want ‘em ;)Lulling them all into a false sense of security and then “wham”, pole / win.
    Hang on Glenn, it’s only Friday…

    1. Phil Glass says:

      He can still win this title if he puts his mind to it….

    2. pedro says:

      Yes, and in 90%+ of all the straight fights we have seen between SV & MW, Seb trounces MW.

      1. Thread the Needle says:

        Webber won’t beat vettel now that Webber is off at the end of the year

        I believe vettel knew he was away this year and that’s why he did what he did in Mayalsia

      2. Glennb says:

        Thats why Seb is a multi WDC. He beats his team mate most of the time. I still support Mark whether he”s the best or not.

    3. Fireman says:

      Still waiting for that right hook. On whom it will land?

    4. Tyemz says:

      Mark can only finish in first position if the team decides to let him have a good start or if he stays as far away from the pits as possible.

  7. SteveS says:

    Cue the hysterical cries of “It’s all over! This season is done!”

    It’s just Friday practice, people. I expect one of the Mercs to be on pole and the Ferrari and Lotus show excellent long run pace.

  8. Nick Lynn says:

    I’m afraid I’m losing interest in F1 just as I did when Schumacher was dominating. The Red Bull is so superior to the other machinery and with tyres that now suit it we won’t ever get to see drivers pitting their racing skills against one another.

    I really want to respect Vettel as a multiple champion; but while the situation with car superiority is so unbalanced he’ll never convince me.

    Sad to say, it is getting boring.

    1. Miha Bevc says:

      I could only buy your argument in 2011.

      1. Nick Lynn says:

        Well I hoped, when the season started, that it would be more competitive.

        Don’t get me wrong there has been some thrilling racing; but the fact remains that Vettel and the Red Bull is always there and now with tyres that they know work for them I fear Alonso, Hamilton and Kimi will all be fighting for second place.

        Vettel doesn’t race so much as qualify fast and then scuttle off into the distance on race day because of the car’s superiority. Clearly that takes a certain sort of skill; but I have no doubt that Alonso and Hamilton could do it too.

        It tells you something about the state of the sport when people cheer so loud when Vettel’s car breaks down rather than groaning because they think they’ve been denied some great racing.

        I live in hope that the new regs next season will neuter Adrian Newey’s genius for a bit!

      2. SteveS says:

        “Vettel doesn’t race so much as qualify fast and then scuttle off into the distance on race day because of the car’s superiority.”

        If “the car” really had the sort of superiority you claim it does, then the two RB’s would finish first and second in most races. (Which is what “superior cars” have always done in the past) You simply don’t know much about F1.

      3. Nick Lynn says:

        Clearly Webber has been having more than a fair share of ‘bad luck’ in terms of mechanical failings (as happened again today).

        I would also say that he is not as consistently fast as Vettel over one lap; however, mechanical gremlins aside when both RB’ drivers are on it they tend to lock out whatever part of the grid they are on because they have the best cars (not necessarily the fastest). That’s why they’ve won the titles over the last few years.

        It’s not just me saying it – ask around the pitlane. Ask James.

        And regardless of how much I do or don’t know about F1, I can see a thoroughbred machine!

      4. Rockie says:

        “It tells you something about the state of the sport when people cheer so loud when Vettel’s car breaks down rather than groaning because they think they’ve been denied some great racing.”

        Losers mentality at its best people are not hoping for their favorite team/driver to get better but for RBR to fail hence you end up with such foul and utterly disgusting display of sportsmanship.

        Perfect example without Vettel Alonso would have won the WDC in a sub-par Ferrari would that have counted as the pinnacle of F1?

      5. Nick Lynn says:

        Your comment about the sub par Ferrari is really my point.

        Had Alonso done it then, for me, it would have been his exceptional skills as a driver that made it happen. As we have seen he consistently outdrives the car. Only a few drivers are capable of doing that: its what separates the good from the great.

        Much as I admire Newey’s virtuosity as a great car designer, in the end I watch it because I want to see the drivers perform.

        Think of the memorable charges that Alonso and Hamilton have made in recent years – and there are lots to choose from. And then try to think of any that Vettel has done – one maybe? That’s my original point.

    2. formula says:

      +1. can’t think why for the life of me why supposedly the best engineers in the world in their field can’t produce a car that can consistently challenge the bulls, getting boring now

      1. Me says:

        Perhaps they’re not the best engineers in the world?

        Could be they’re somewhere else?

    3. Robert Gunning says:

      My thoughts exactly, but history has an uncanny knack of repeating itself. I remember Murray Walker being interviewed during the peak of the Ferrari/Schumacher domination, and was asked whether it would come to end. He replied he had watched Formula One from start and seen so many dominant teams fall, and so would Ferrari. It happened to McLaren, Williams and Lotus, and it will happen to Red Bull. What with the rule changes next season, it might be sooner than we think!

    4. Spinodontosaurus says:

      There was less than 3 tenths covering the top 5, which included 3 different teams. How you came to the conclusion that Red Bull are “so superior” after being only marginally ahead (and arguably for the first time all season) is beyond me.
      In fact if Lotus’ and Ferrari’s can stay within 3 tenths of Vettel in qualifying, then they could find themselves ahead of Webber on the grid anyway.

      If Mercedes re-find their form then there is 4 teams fight close at the top.

      I suggest you have a glance back across the history of F1 and look at how hugely dominant the majority of championship winning cars were. The fastest car almost always wins, with Vettel actually being one of the few drivers to win in something that isn’t the fastest (McLaren were faster in 2012).

    5. SteveS says:

      You must have started following F1 in the last six or seven years. There is nothing remotely “superior” about the Red Bull cars in historical F1 terms. Winning five out of twenty GP’s, as Vettel managed last season, does not make the Red Bull a massively superior car. We are living through an era of unprecedented car parity in F1.

    6. Sudha S says:

      Dominance of the Red Bull is scary. It is not so much that it is boring, but sport is about competition. When one person or team is so dominant, the most important element is nullified. Of course, we can watch the Caterham and Marussia fight at the back for the competition or the midfield fights, but it is just not the same.
      F1 has 4 top drivers in Vettel, Raikkonen, Alonso, Hamilton with Button, Rosberg just behind them. But only 1 top team in Red Bull. The other teams are failing their drivers

    7. Aj says:

      Well if you can’t repsect the talent of Vettel after this years showing then I guess you never will

    8. K says:

      The RBR was definitely not considered to be the fastest car until now. Ferrari and Lotus and Mercedes were considered to be faster or equal fast. Just watch back the races. People just want to diminish things with this kind of inaccurate talk.

      And still Vettel and RBR were leading because they just do a better job maximizing everything.

      If the best ones winning is boring to you, you can try another sport where the ones not doing the best job win?

    9. David says:

      I don’t know why Vettel doesn’t get the repect he deserves. You cannot be a triple world champion by being average, even if you have the best car. Mistakes make you lose, and Vettel makes very few.

    10. Tyemz says:

      Watch out Nick! As you would have already discovered, it’s taboo to mention that Vet is winning in superior Machinery. The safest way to play it these days is to pretend you don’t know VET drives the overall fastest car mate or that the Marussia is the best car on the grid. Better luck next time.

  9. Elie says:

    If Red Bull qualify on pole no one will be close enough to have a hope in hell- they will disappear just like they did in Canada.

    The long run pace of the Red bull was scary they were continuously faster than even Lotus. Kimi did not get to show his pace as he was blocked by Jenson.But barring mechanical failure Seb will walk away with this.

    1. Tealeaf says:

      The thing is it will be close to 40′c and that will make the Redbull vulnerable to the Lotus and Ferrari, we still haven’t seen what Mercedes can do in quali yet, they normally turn things up for that session.

    2. David says:

      I think it will depend on who is in row two. If either a Lotus or a Ferrari can have a great start from third or fourth, and get between the Red Bulls, we will have a race on our hands.

      1. Elie says:

        Yeah but like I said the 15 lap stints showed Red Bull on average .75sec + faster than anyone on both compounds
        Lets hope the other find something today or the fuel loads aren’t fully representative

  10. Sudha S says:

    The Red Bull team looks to be sitting pretty. Good 1 lap pace with the fastest driver on the grid, top of the pops on race pace. New tyres more suitable to the RB9 and tyre wear under control.
    Lotus is the team who if they can only get their strategy right can attack Vettel with both Grosjean and Kimi. But this team cant even ensure that they get their pitstop timing right and not put their driver back in heavy traffic. Only if both these drivers are in top form and combined together they work, they can have some impact on Vettel. In this battle Alonso can always sneak in for a podium.
    This was the point in the season last year where Mercedes started their slide and went from 105 pts after Germany to add only 37 pts in the next 10 races. Only hope they dont do it again this season, with the revised tyres also working against them. If that happens it wont be a pretty sight to watch Lewis Hamilton implode.

    1. K says:

      These more durable tyre should help Mercedes, no doubt about it. What hurt them is the ban on switching of the tyres which is what they tested the most during their illegal test, fine-tuning the setup.

      FIA banned it and had the last laugh after Mercedes thought they had outsmarted everyone.

      1. Tyemz says:

        No! FIA Set Merc up for the fall then staged the Silverstone failures (why wouldn’t Charlie or FIA lawyers be in a better position to give Merc a definite yes or no answer? or just how “secret” can a tyre test be if CW knew about it beforehand?) in order to have an excuse to change the tyres to favour Redbull seeing as there wasn’t going to be any other way to do it.
        I’m a rookie at conspiracy theories but it seems I can do a better job of it than quite a lot of people.

    2. David says:

      Lewis is imploding enough on his own. I understand he has personal relationship problems, but to pout about it publicly on twitter and instagram etc. is too much. His head is not in the game right now.

  11. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    BELIEVE!

    Merc will find the right setup tonight for doing 3 stops, and the 15 last laps with the Mercs with LOW FUEL will be thrilling.

    My dream:
    Pole Hamilton
    1st Kimi
    2nd Alonso
    3rd Hamilton
    then: Grosjean (2 stops), Rosberg, Webber, Jenson, Vettel…

    1. Rockie says:

      Dream on matey!

      1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

        UPDATE: HAMILTON got pole! I’m still dreaming!

      2. Rockie says:

        Well the Mercedes is a pole car so what do you expect? Redbull yet to take pole in the dry!

  12. Endres says:

    OK Webbo!

    Once more into the breach my friend.

    You are a swan, now bloody well sing!
    @ 17000RPM.

  13. aveli says:

    i suspect raikkonen has signed to join red bull ahead of this weekend grand prix.

  14. def says:

    poor mark webber,here we go again.electrical problems for mark in qualifying,HGP.always the brides maid never the bride.always the second car again. im sick of that immature partner of his always having the perfect car.I feel sorry for another australian guy,ricciardo if he joins vettel at red bull.I’m sure the kaisers at redbull will make life difficult for daniel, bowing to the childish rants from the sourkraut, vettel.
    ps hope someone takes out this childish vettel.

    1. abc says:

      too RIGHT!!!

    2. SteveS says:

      [mod] Vettel has had considerably more car problems since moving to Red Bull than Webber has. He’s just better at overcoming the problems.

  15. KRB says:

    “It is going to take something special for anyone to beat Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel this weekend in Budapest …”

    Too right. Lewis Hamilton = Something Special.

    Very happy for Hamilton today. I thought his best chances at a win this year had passed after China, Monaco and Britain, but he was supreme today.

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