Ferrari development driver Antonio Giovinazzi set an unofficial lap record on the first day of the Hungary in-season test with a hypersoft-assisted lap, but attentions were very much on the aesthetics of the 2019-specification front wings, which were being trialled by Williams, Red Bull and Force India.
Formula One has been looking at methods of improving wheel-to-wheel racing and are looking to address that problem with changes to the technical regulations, which are being introduced for 2019.
Their primary focus is on the front wing and improving the air flow over the car, which will allow cars to run closer together and, in turn, increase the chances of overtaking.
With three teams testing out initial front wing designs, Force India’s Nicolas Latifi, Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Williams’ Oliver Rowland completed sporadic running of the concept designs, alongside their regular testing programmes.
Giovinazzi, who will be hoping to impress enough to earn himself a drive at one of Ferrari’s customer team for next season, put together an impressive test day.
Registering 96 laps, the Italian lead the morning session with a 1m19.648s on the soft tyre, before making big jumps in lap time as the day went on.
Equipped with supersofts later on, he lowered his own benchmark to a 1m16.887s. When comparing to the lap record set by Sebastian Vettel in FP3, he was 0.7s off the pace, albeit on a compound that was one step harder.
With around two hours to go, Giovinazzi then set an unofficial lap record at the Hungaroring by setting a 1m15.648s on the hypersoft tyres, around half-a-second faster than Vettel’s best FP3 lap. This was set in similar track conditions to FP3, but this time on a tyre that was one step softer than Vettel’s.
Opportunities for the remaining drivers to improve on their times after that were limited.
Toro Rosso were using two cars for today’s test, one run by Brendon Hartley for their usual testing duties and the other used by Sean Gelael for Pirelli tyre testing. It was the latter that crashed at turn eleven and caused a 20-minute stoppage whilst the car was retrieved.
After this stoppage, only Hartley and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson made attempts on the hypersoft tyre, with Ericsson taking second (2.5 seconds off the pace) and Hartley going third (3.6 seconds off the pace).
Rain then interrupted the final 90 minutes of the session, meaning no further improvements were made. Only Ricciardo and McLaren’s Lando Norris ran in the intermediate conditions.
Norris ended the day as the fourth-fastest driver with a soft-tyre time of 1m19.294s, ahead of Formula Two championship rival George Russell, who completed the fewest laps of the day with Mercedes.
Russell set his best time on supersoft tyres, and was one tenth ahead of Ricciardo, who looked set to improve with an afternoon run on the supersoft tyre before pitting.
Force India development driver Nicolas Latifi was a further tenth of a second behind the Red Bull, whilst the testing programmes for Nico Hulkenberg (Renault), Oliver Rowland (Williams) and Gelael resulted in them not troubling the top times.
Haas elected not to participate in this in-season test.
HUNGARIAN IN-SEASON TEST, Day One
1 Antonio Giovinazzi Ferrari 1m15.648s, 96 laps
2 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 1m18.155s 2.507s, 95 laps
3 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1m19.251s 3.603s, 126 laps
4 Lando Norris McLaren/Renault 1m19.294s 3.646s, 106 laps
5 George Russell Mercedes 1m19.781s 4.133s, 49 laps
6 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 1:19.854s 4.206s, 125 laps
7 Nicolas Latifi Force India/Mercedes 1m19.994s 4.346s, 103 laps
8 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m20.826s 5.178s, 63 laps
9 Oliver Rowland Williams/Mercedes 1m20.970s 5.322s, 65 laps
10 Sean Gelael Toro Rosso/Honda 1m21.451s 5.803s, 109 laps
By: Luke Murphy
All images: Motorsport Images
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