'Faultless' Vettel dominates while McLaren face difficult weekend

Ferrari's difficult week got a little better yesterday in practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix but it was Red Bull who most enjoyed proceedings.

As controversy continues to swirl about the Italian team's victory at the German GP last week, Fernando Alonso had to settle for second and team-mate Felipe Massa fourth as Sebastian Vettel emphatically dominated practice here.

"That was pretty good – we got through everything we wanted," the German said. "The car ran faultlessly and the guys did a good job. But this afternoon it was tighter. The Ferraris seem very quick again here, on both the long and short runs. They will be quick again tomorrow and we also shouldn't forget the McLarens; they have proven many times this year that they can make a step forward from Friday to Saturday."

Down at McLaren, however, there was an air of resignation. The team are getting to grips with their blown diffuser, but the latest technological "must have" is now a flexible front wing. This droops over either end of the wing and thus generates a degree of extra downforce which further enhances grip and thus increases performance. Ferrari and Red Bull ran them yesterday.

The McLaren design engineer, Paddy Lowe, recently admitted that the team still has yet to understand and master the technique for replicating such a device, which means that they remain on their back foot.

Here their pioneering F-duct, which stalls the rear wing on the straights and thus helps to reduce drag and increase straight-line speed, is much less useful than, say, at Sepang in Malaysia or Barcelona. Both Red Bull and Ferrari have taken theirs off this weekend, leaving McLaren, Sauber and Williams to use the devices. "The car just isn't fast enough," Lewis Hamilton said.

Thus the problems that the championship leaders have this weekend are manifold. Of course Red Bull and Ferrari are flying, and, all things being equal, Vettel, his team-mate Mark Webber, Alonso and Massa will probably carve up the majority of the points on offer. But, such is their lack of speed, McLaren could also be threatened by Renault and Williams. The former have excellent mechanical grip on a track where that, and maximum aerodynamic downforce, are crucially important. Williams, meanwhile, have been coming on in leaps and bounds of late.

Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher's pace for Mercedes yesterday gave the German team some cautious hope, though they have a habit recently of fading in qualifying. If any of these challengers can separate McLaren from Ferrari and Red Bull, the leading championship positions could change dramatically yet again.

After running almost 1.3 seconds off Vettel's pace, and only sixth fastest overall, Hamilton expanded on his summation of the McLaren and admitted: "We're massively down – almost a whole second – in the middle sector, and then a couple of 10ths in the first sector and I think the last sector's almost half a second... We are pushing, and we're doing the best job we can. With the package we have, we're getting around the optimum from it. We're just trying to dial in the set-up, but there's only maybe a couple of 10ths in it.

"We've got a lot of work to do and I guess this weekend's just about scoring as many points as we can and hoping that the guys ahead have troubles," Hamilton added. "We'll just try and edge out as much as we can. I think being in the top five could be tricky this weekend."

Asked to put his finger on the over-riding problem, he said: "That's difficult. The car is the best I've ever had it around this track, and that's still not good enough. It feels great around the corners, and then you start to push more to try and close the gap to these guys, and then the car starts to be really on the ragged edge. But I think it's just the overall lack of downforce."

Team-mate Jenson Button was 1.6sec behind Vettel, and was equally unhappy in only ninth place. "It's going to be very tricky," he said. "The Red Bull is just so fast. They did a 1 minute 20.0 seconds. We didn't get near the low 1:21s. The car doesn't feel so good on the softer tyre. On the harder tyre, it feels good. I don't know where that time is. I feel reasonably happy with the balance of the car. There's still more to improve, but we're never going to find a second. We'll do the best that we can with what we have here.

"The guys are all working flat out to improve this car, as we need to at the moment, and I've got belief in them. But if we can get into the top five in qualifying, we should be very happy with that."

Hungaroring Times

Practice: First Session: 1 S Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1min 20.976sec; 2 M Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1:21.106; 3 R Kubica (Pol) Renault 1:22.072; 4 J Button (GB) McLaren 1:22.444; 5 R Barrichello (Br) Williams 1:22.601; 6 P de la Rosa (Sp) Sauber 1:22.764; 7 F Alonso (Sp) Ferrari 1:22.772; 8 N Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes 1:22.777; 9 M Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes 1:22.792; 10 N Hulkenberg (Ger) Williams 1:22.966; 11 A Sutil (Ger) Force India 1:23.003; 12 F Massa (Br) Ferrari 1:23.007; 13 V Petrov (Rus) Renault 1:23.249; 14 K Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber 1:23.327; 15 P di Resta (GB) Force India 1:23.520; 16 S Buemi (Swit) Toro Rosso 1:23.780; 17 J Alguersuari (Sp) Toro Rosso 1:23.868; 18 L Hamilton (GB) McLaren 1:24.075; 19 J Trulli (It) Lotus 1:25.032; 20 H Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus 1:25.210; 21 T Glock (Ger) Virgin 1:25.990; 22 L di Grassi (Br) Virgin 1:26.686; 22 B Senna (Br) HRT 1:26.990; 24 S Yamamoto (Japan) HRT 1:28.157. Second Session: 1 Vettel 1min 20.087sec; 2 Alonso 1:20.584; 3 Webber 1:20.597; 4 Massa 1:20.986; 5 Petrov 1:21.195; 6 Hamilton 1:21.308; 7 Kubica 1:21.375; 8 Hulkenberg 1:21.623; 9 Button 1:21.730; 10 Schumacher 1:21.773; 11 De la Rosa 1:21.809; 12 Barrichello 1:21.844; 13 Rosberg 1:22.039; 14 Kobayashi 1:22.212; 15 Alguersuari 1:22.469; 16 Sutil 1:22.507; 17 Buemi 1:22.602; 18 V Liuzzi (It) Force India 1:23.138; 19 Trulli 1:24.553; 20 Glock 1:25.376; 21 Di Grassi 1:25.669; 22 Senna 1:26.745; 23 Yamamoto 1:26.798; 24 Kovalainen 1:27.705.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Life and Style
Pick of the bunch: Sudi Pigott puts together roasted tomatoes with peppers, aubergines and Labneh cheese for a tomato-inspired vegetarian main dish
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape