Ricciardo tops practice for Hungarian GP
DANIEL Ricciardo topped the timesheets in a heavily-revised Red Bull in first practice for the Hungarian GP to offer encouragement of a three-way fight with Mercedes and Ferrari for supremacy at the Hungaroring.
Ricciardo finished the session two tenths of a second ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen with a lap of 1:18.486. Lewis Hamilton was third quickest, a further two tenths shy of Ricciardo.
Although Friday morning's conditions are not expected to be representative of what awaits in qualifying and the race at Budapest, it was a hugely encouraging start for the former world champions after the introduction of their much-anticipated upgrade package on the RB13.
"I heard Red Bull should have a big upgrade and this should be a good track for them," said Hamilton on Thursday night. "It's not a very power-sensitive circuit so l think you should see a good fight between three teams."
World championship leader Sebastian Vettel had a difficult session, spinning off, complaining of oversteer and at one stage losing a part of his Ferrari car after riding the kerbs.
The session was briefly red-flagged after Antonio Giovinazzi, standing in for Kevin Magnussen, crashed his Haas into the trackside barriers. It was an inauspicious and badly-timed mistake by the Ferrari young driver who, following confirmation the Scuderia will power Sauber in 2018, is likely to be in a fight against GP2 Charles Leclerc to partner Marcus Ericsson at the Swiss-based outfit next year.
Valtteri Bottas was the early pacesetter before being usurped by teammate Hamilton with 30 minutes remaining.
There was further encouragement for the improving McLaren-Honda outfit with both of their cars in the top 10. Fernando Alonso was seventh, fractionally faster than teammate Stoffel Vandoorne.
The tight and twisty Hungaroring is likely to offer McLaren one of their best chances of the year to score points and climb clear of the bottom of the Constructors' Championship due to the lack of emphasis it places on engine power.
Renault's Jolyon Palmer, under pressure to break his 2017 scoring duck ahead of Robert Kubica's return in next week's test, shredded his front-wing after running wide at Turn Four to bring proceedings to an early end.