Lewis Hamilton impresses during practice for Hungarian Grand Prix

 

Lewis Hamilton knocked back a practice double for a much-needed tonic ahead of Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.

Collecting just four points from his last three races, Hamilton has fallen 62 points behind championship leader Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari.

Hamilton stated yesterday he could not afford any more 'dents' to his championship hopes after failing to score in the European and German Grands Prix for very different reasons.

In desperate need of a strong result, ideally a victory prior to the summer break that follows this weekend's event in Budapest, Hamilton was quickest at the end of both practice sessions, the second of which was again hit by rain, as was the case last week at Hockenheim.

The 27-year-old led a McLaren one-two in the initial 90-minute outing with a time of one minute 22.821 seconds, finishing ahead of McLaren team-mate Jenson Button by 0.101secs.

That, however, was on the harder, slightly slower medium-compound Pirelli tyre, so come FP2 when the faster soft rubber was used, Hamilton was almost a second quicker.

With a time of 1:21.995secs, Hamilton finished 0.185secs up on Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus, with Williams' Bruno Senna showing encouraging signs with a 1:22.253.

The Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Alonso were up next, with Button sixth on the timesheet, 0.752secs adrift of Hamilton, with Paul Di Resta a solid seventh in his Force India, 0.799secs down.

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel was in close attendance to Di Resta, followed by Romain Grosjean in his Lotus and Mercedes' Michael Schumacher.

For the second successive FP2, though, Schumacher - known as the 'rainmaster' - ended the session in ignominy.

Exactly a week ago Schumacher blamed a lack of concentration for a spin late on into a barrier which saw him damage the front and rear of the car in front of his home fans in Germany.

On this occasion, with rain falling at the midway point of the session, Schumacher was simply caught out by the conditions.

On the intermediate wet-weather tyres, Schumacher had no grip as he attempted to turn into the left-hander at turn six, locking up and sliding straight on into a tyre wall.

As conditions failed to dry out enough for anyone to switch to slick tyres late on, it effectively made the session one of two halves, with only a handful of drivers opting not to go out for a run in the wet, including Hamilton, Raikkonen and Button.

But with rain forecast for the race, those who did will at least have some valuable data to fall back on should that be the case.

Below 10th-placed Schumacher on the timesheet was the second-placed man in the standings, Red Bull's Mark Webber, but he looked far from happy with his day's work as he trailed Hamilton by 1.819secs in 14th place.

Propping up the times was HRT's Narain Karthikeyan, the Indian 5.827secs down, 0.7secs adrift of team-mate Pedro de la Rosa.

PA

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