Hamilton fastest at 1st Hungarian GP practice, Rosberg next

by Steven Clarke July 23, 2016, 7:15

Rosberg has 168 points halfway through the season, one point ahead of two-time defending world champion Hamilton.

In a dominant day for the Silver Arrows, Rosberg's teammate Lewis Hamilton finished top of the times during FP1, but suffered a blunder in the second session when he slid off the Hungaroring into the barrier, ending his session.

Hamilton has won four times at the Hungaroring, a circuit where Rosberg has never experienced victory or claimed pole, leaving the German with a significant task to halt the momentum of a driver who has prevailed in four of the last five races.

But the German insisted on Thursday that he is not feeling the pressure of Hamilton's championship charge, despite his lead evaporating from 43 points to just one ahead of Sunday's race.

While Hamilton has won here on four previous occasions, Rosberg is yet to open his winning account in Hungary. I looked at the Silverstone race afterwards and I found as a spectator it was quite entertaining to hear a driver panicking on the radio and the team panicking at the same time.

Mercedes-backed Esteban Ocon, who also doubles up as Renault's reserve driver, drove Kevin Magnussen's auto for the French team and ended the session 18th.

There are still 13 Formula One seats remaining up for grabs in 2017 on the eve of the August mid-season break.

"It was always clear we wanted to continue", Mercedes chief Toto Wolff said.

But Ferrari driver Vettel said: "It is complete bull**** all the radio issues that we have had".

"On the one hand you can say that we can lose both drivers at the same time, but on second thoughts it as an interesting possibility that opens up several options for us".

Sergio Perez, meanwhile, remains coy on his future despite being under contract at Force India for next year, according to team owner Vijay Mallya.

Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen of Red Bull, on soft tires, came next. "Ferrari and Red Bull have been a bit up and down, but there is still such a long way to go".

Vettel's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was sixth fastest, more than 1.6secs off the pace.

Hamilton's accident was the only high-profile incident of the session, run in hot conditions with track temperatures in the forties.

With Hamilton pushing early in the session he was tipped into a slide entering turn 11 and bashed into the tyre barriers in a heavy side-on shunt.

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