Race diary: things we learned from Friday at the Hungaroring

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Following a heatwave in recent weeks, the Hungaroring presented the F1 drivers with both rain and sunshine across Friday with the opening practice taking place in wet conditions and the second one-hour session having been staged in dry weather. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó reports on Day 1 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Despite arriving in the paddock quite early in the morning, there was already a huge amount of fans waiting for the drivers at the Hungaroring main entrence that has been recently dismantled and will be replaced by a new building in the coming weeks. The paddock was also full of people with photographers already waiting at the gate where drivers enter it coming from the parking lot.

Here are the key takeaways that kept the paddock busy today.


Hungary usually enjoys very hot summers, but weather could be changeable as well. That was the case last year when Formula One arrived in the Hungarian capital with the otherwise persistent hot weather having changed for cold and rainy conditions.

Today was reminiscent of last year in the way that the last days saw temperatures rise well above 30 degrees Celsius while rain arrived today to interrupt the opening practice session.

However, much better sunny conditions are predicted for the remainder of the weekend. For tomorrow’s final practice and qualifying session, there is only a ten per cent chance for rain with temperatures expected to rise up to 29 degrees Celsius. For the grand prix itself, the probability for rain is under ten per cent while temperatures could reach 31 degrees Celsius.

Huge crowd

Although we have only completed the opening day at the Hungarian Grand Prix, there was a huge crowd all around the circuit today. With the Hungaroring located in a natural bowl, there are many great spots for fans to watch race action. I usually leave the paddock during F1 sessions to watch the cars as they tackle the corners in anger. It was not different today at the Hungaroring with Turns 6 and 7 having been my favourite spot for long years.

However, there was much more for fans to experience today. Besides all the activities the Fan Zone offers, there were some serious guests on the Fan Zone stage with two-time world champion Fernando Alonso kicking off the action in the morning. The Spaniard was followed by Williams Team Principal James Vowles and Alfa Romeo Racing Manager Beat Zehnder before the stage welcomed its last guest in form of AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost.

New tyre rule

Formula One debuted a new tyre rule for this weekend which means that drivers will only have 11 sets of slick tyres instead of 13. Secondly, their hands are tied in terms of compounds during qualifying as they will be forced to use the C3 Hard compound in Q1, the C4 Medium compound in Q2 and the C5 Soft compound in Q3.

Drivers were quite critical following the first trial of the new sporting rule, claiming that the reduction of slick tyres meant they needed to spend the majority of the day in their garages.

In fact, Red Bull and Mercedes drivers only used a single set of slick tyres throughout the day in order to boost their chances on Saturday and Sunday.

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen commented: "With this new format, you are just super limited with the tyre sets that you can use, and I didn't want to use them today to at least have a bit more of a better preparation tomorrow.”

Eight-time Hungaroring winner Lewis Hamilton felt sorry for the fans as they were robbed track time due to the strict limit of slick tyres.

“So, not really a great format change they made for this weekend. It just means we get less running, so not ideal. Maybe they should look at something like that rather than taking time on track away from the fans," the Briton added.

Pressure in mounting

Following five difficult race weekends on which Sergio Perez failed to get to Q3, the Mexican kicked off his Hungarian Grand Prix in the worst possible way. The six-time F1 race winner lost control of his RB19 in the opening practice, crashing into the barriers at Turn 5 which caused significant damage to his RB19.

Perez took two impressive wins in Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan in 2023, but the pressure has been mounting since. The Mexican has not only been inconsistent recently, but former Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo has returned to the sport as Nyck de Vries' replacement and the Austrian is eying up a return to Red Bull in the future.

Speaking about his mistake today, Perez added: “Today, the incident in FP1 was a mistake from my side. However, the Team have done a tremendous job to get the car together so we could get some laps in for FP2 and, with the new tyre format this weekend, it was great to get some good information and data to look through.

"Regarding our new upgrades, it is quite early to comment and understand how they will come into play, but we will have a better idea of this tomorrow. Finally, I am positive about qualifying tomorrow and we have everything in place to go out and have a solid weekend.”

The big return

All eyes were set today on Daniel Ricciardo, who has just completed his first practice day in 2023. The Perth-born was unlucky with all the interruptions and wet surface in Free Practice 1 which limited his running, but he could get valuable mileage under his belt in his new race office in the second one-hour practice.

The eight-time F1 race winner was 14th fastest in FP2, just over 0.4s off Tsunoda’s best time which put the Japanese driver an impressive fourth in the timesheets.

Speaking soon after jumping out of the AT04, Ricciardo said: “I think positions are probably not too relevant at the moment. But I think it was more for me today to feel basically where I am with the car. It all felt pretty familiar.

“I think obviously there is a lot of outside attention, but once I put the helmet on and got in the car, it all felt like I never really left. That was nice. Obviously, this morning we didn’t really get anything, but this afternoon... just a little bit on the new tyre," the Australian concluded.

De Vries on Mercedes’ radar

After having been ousted by AlphaTauri ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Nyck de Vries is evaluating his options for the future. The former Formula 2 and Formula E champion remained silent following his exit from the Red Bull family, but he opened up on social media this Wednesday, claiming that he needed some days off to get over his sudden departure from the sport.

The Dutchman was spotted at a Monaco café, chatting with Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff, and the Anglo-German team has now stated they they would welcome de Vries back.

The 28-year-old served as Mercedes simulator driver, and he could drive three different F1 cars last year, taking part in Friday’s young driver outings for Mercedes, Aston Martin and Williams.

Speaking about their former test driver, Mercedes Trackside engineering director Andrew Shovlin said: “I’ve only spoken to him by text and he said he’ll let me know how his plans are coming on. He was certainly very useful for us in that role and we’d be welcome to get him back in that role but I suspect that his focus will be on finding race seats.

“If it’s not in Formula 1, it will be in some other big and competitive series. He is clearly very talented, F2 champion Formula E champion which is a very difficult series to win. And he’ll be looking to get into a winning seat again.”