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Friday, August 1, 2008

Hamilton tops Friday practice in Hungary

Lewis Hamilton posted a top time of 1:20.554 in the second session to lead the sheets on day one of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.

The Briton was fourth in the morning, behind teammate Heikki Kovalainen and the session leading Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen.

But Hamilton was well clear of the fifth and sixth place red cars in the second session, the McLaren again looking dominant as he goes for his third in a row this weekend.

Kovalainen finished third in the second session, an while clearly the McLarens pulled away from Ferrari in the afternoon, it hasn’t been all gloom and doom from the Scuderia.

“It’s hard to say exactly where we are compared to the opposition, but clearly they are very quick,” said Massa. “We know in which direction we have to work and will do all we can to bring home a good result. It will be tough, but I am confident all the same.”

“The situation is not too bad,” Raikkonen concurred. “The car handles better, but our main rivals seem to be still a little bit quicker than us... There is still room for improvement and we will concentrate all our efforts on this in preparing for qualifying and the race.”

Second fastest on the day was Nelson Piquet, fresh off his first podium in Germany, setting his fast time in the second session.

“The track changed a lot during the day and it’s quite a demanding place with lots of corners,” Piquet said. “But I enjoyed driving the circuit and I hope things continue like this tomorrow.”

Unfortunately for the Brazilian, he ended the day in a familiar position - off the track. But with teammate Fernando Alonso also having a quick second session, finishing fourth, the Renaults again looked promising.

“Overall, we improved the car and we are moving in the right direction... if we can make the most of the final practice session tomorrow morning, we should be able to approach qualifying in good shape,” Alonso said.

Seldom this season has this speed seemed to hold over a race distance. Yet, despite Renault’s struggles, the double world champion believes his chances at the championship may not have been much different had he stayed with the Silver Arrows.

“I'm much happier this year,” Alonso told reporters at Thursday’s press conference. “Last year, I had the possibility to fight for the championship. It's OK, but I knew that this year it was not possible anymore. If I was racing for McLaren now, in this moment, maybe I am in the same position as I am now, without the possibility to win.”

The toughest day has to go to Sebastian Vettel. The German, who has been extracting some strong drives out of his Toro Rosso as of late, was set back by hydraulics issues which limited him to just nine laps over the course of the day.

“A shame because I lost a lot of track time and Friday’s work is very important. I hardly ran at all and therefore we are lacking information which will be a handicap for the rest of the weekend,” Vettel said.

Hamilton will be looking to extend his slim four-point lead over Massa in the drivers championship Sunday, while Ferrari look to put recent difficulties behind them.

Much depends on qualifying, which kicks off at 2 pm local time Saturday.

Second practice session:

  1. Hamilton, McLaren, 1:20.554
  2. Piquet, Renault, 1:20.748
  3. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:20.760
  4. Alonso, Renault, 1:20.928
  5. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:21.009
  6. Massa, Ferrari, 1:21.010
  7. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:21.138
  8. Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:21.363
  9. Trulli, Toyota, 1:21.505
  10. Rosberg, Williams, 1:21.581
  11. Glock, Toyota, 1:21.662
  12. Webber, RedBull, 1:21.733
  13. Coulthard, RedBull, 1:21.837
  14. Nakajima, Williams, 1:21.902
  15. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:21.955
  16. Button, Honda, 1:22.150
  17. Fisichella, Force India, 1:22.197
  18. Sutil, Force India, 1:22.358
  19. Barrichello, Honda, 1:22.448
  20. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:22.945

First practice session:

  1. Massa, Ferrari, 1:20.981
  2. Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:21.345
  3. Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:21.410
  4. Hamilton, McLaren, 1:21.535
  5. Alonso, Renault, 1:21.802
  6. Glock, Toyota, 1:21.931
  7. Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:22.267
  8. Piquet, Renault, 1:22.326
  9. Heidfeld,BMW Sauber, 1:22.370
  10. Trulli, Toyota, 1:22.457
  11. Webber, RedBull, 1:22.654
  12. Coulthard, RedBull, 1:22.700
  13. Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:22.900
  14. Button, Honda 1:22.917
  15. Barrichello, Honda 1:23.093
  16. Rosberg, Williams, 1:23.147
  17. Nakajima, Williams, 1:23.274
  18. Sutil, Force India, 1:23.353
  19. Fisichella, Force India, 1:23.459
  20. Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:23.923
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