Searing ambient and track temperatures plus dusty, windy conditions combined to produce a tough opening day of practice for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix, the tenth round of the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship.
The Force India Formula One Team's Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella nevertheless completed a solid day of work at the twisty, 4.381km Hungaroring. The morning was dedicated to establishing a good baseline set-up on the soft Bridgestone tyres and evaluating some of the cooling aids brought specifically to cope with the high ambient temperatures of the Hungarian summer. In the afternoon both drivers moved to comparing the soft and the supersoft tyres and conducting longer run simulations.
Giancarlo's quickest lap of the morning, 1min 23.484, came on his final run and was the 16th quickest time. Adrian's best was similarly recorded in the closing minutes of the session, 1min 23.845, the 18th fastest, both within 1.5secs of the quickest lap. The pair were within a second of the fastest time in the afternoon, with Adrian posting a 1min 22.978 and Giancarlo a 1min 23.029, the 16th and 17th quickest times respectively.
Adrian Sutil (car 20): "Today was quite a tough day. The grip level was so low on the circuit and it was hard to judge the tyres. The balance in general is hard to get and the car is difficult to drive. We're getting some oversteer and then understeer in the mid corner with a lot of snaps over the bumps. It is made harder as the grip levels are changing constantly, but we've got lots of data to work on so I'm confident we'll find some more tomorrow."
Giancarlo Fisichella (car 21): "Everything went reasonably well today as we went through the programme. The balance for me was not too bad, particularly on the longer run I did in the afternoon, but the circuit is still quite low on grip. Unfortunately on my last run with the new tyres I had some traffic on the first lap so couldn't warm the tyres adequately and I locked up into turn one and got a flat spot and some vibration. I couldn't improve my lap time with the new tyres in the end, but we do know that there is more to come."
Dominic Harlow, chief race engineer: "During FP1 both cars carried out some structured tests whilst the circuit improved and most of the work was about gathering data. It was quite tricky to balance the cars this afternoon, with the wind and warm temperatures adding to the mix. Nevertheless both drivers worked diligently and aside from a minor issue that delayed Adrian's baseline outing there were no serious problems. As expected the closer tyre compounds available here have produced some interesting data for us to analyse as we prepare a strategy for the race."
Adrian Sutil (car 20, VJM02/01):
FP1: 18th 1:23.845 (18 laps)
FP2: 16th 1:22.978 (28 laps)
Giancarlo Fisichella (car 21, VJM02/04):
FP1: 16th 1:23.484 (20 laps)
FP2: 17th 1:23.029 (39 laps)