Hungarian Grand Prix notebook – Friday

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Fridays are usually dedicated for setup and tyre testing, but the weather complicated things for drivers and teams on the opening day of the Hungarian Grand Prix.’s Balázs Szabó reports from the scene.

The weather played its part on the opening day for the 2019 FIA Rolex Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix. Some teams including Ferrari and Racing Point were keen to trial the latest upgrades to their cars out on track while the other rivals also would have welcomed extensive running to find the best setup to the tricky Hungaroring reminiscent of a street circuit. FP1 saw team carrying out valuable running, but drizzle and intense rainfall later on forced team to wait in the garages and use the wet-weather tyres in the closing stages of the afternoon session.

Ferrari with updates – Ferrari continued the development work for its car. The Italian outfit introduced vital changes to the bargeboards and turning vanes for the last meeting before the summer break. The new much more complex version features boomerang-like extensions. Due to the bad weather, the team hardly get any running on a clean track to assess the impact that the new upgrade has on the aerodynamincs of the car, but Charles Leclerc confirmed that the first signs were positive. “We tested some new parts today which worked as expected. Hopefully, we can make a good step forward,” he said.

Almost no chance – While Mercedes is yet to confirm its second driver next to Lewis Hamilton for the 2020 season, Williams driver George Russell admitted that he only has a slight chance to join the works team. “In Formula 1 anything is possible, but for the time being it’s unlikely that I will be there in 2020. If I get the chance one day, I will grab it with both hands."

Good team spirit – During a press conference on Friday, Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said that the atmosphere inside the fabled Italian team is motivating and good despite to the dismal start to the season. “Not winning doesn’t make the task easier no doubt but I think having fun is a matter of team spirit as well, how the team is behaving together, with the drivers, with the engineers, the mechanics and if there is anything I can say is that I think we have got a great team spirit at the moment and that is that the people are happy to come to the race track for at least challenging the next race and we are all here to seek our victory which didn’t happen so far,” the Italian said.

Unstable rear end – On Friday, Max Verstappen span around with his car two times. The Dutchman indicated after the second session that his spins were down to setup experiments on his RB15. Red Bull wanted to try trial a few changes to the setup, leading to a very strong front end, but a loose rear end. "We tried a few things on the car. Initially, I was happy in FP1, then we tried a few things that I was not so happy about. I had a very strong front end but I was losing the rear. But I think it was important we test those things because, again in FP2, the car had a nice balance,” he said.

Top three teams again – On the opening day of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari were at the top of the field once again. Pierre Gasly topped the second practicesession, but the former Toro Rosso driver said Mercedes and Ferrari cannot be discounted. "Mercedes look as strong as we expected, and Ferrari we don't know so far," he said.

An even bigger calendar – Despite to the teams protesting against the calendar expansion, it seems now that most of the outfits could accept if Commercial Rights’ Holder Liberty Media increases the number of races. In the FIA press conference, Claire Williams said that she would be happy about the expansion, but the sport would then need to make some change to the schedule of other activities. The commercial rights holder has come to us to say, you know, that 22 races is a possibility for next year and would we support it. I think in principle, yes, is the answer, but it has to be combined with what other activities are going on in terms of: do we need to do as much pre-season testing?