Formula 1

Lewis Hamilton leads Friday practice at Hungarian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton led Nico Rosberg in both practice sessions on Friday at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Briton posted a 1:24.482 on the soft option tyres in the afternoon to beat his Mercedes team-mate by a quarter of a second with Sebastian Vettel third for Red Bull.

Budapest dustbowl

As always it was a hot and dusty track that greeted the teams on Friday morning but for Mercedes the two drivers got straight to business completing an initial 20 minute stint on the medium tyres.

As confidence grew the two championship contenders traded fastest times as the other teams waited before completing their first runs.

Quite quickly it became apparent the medium prime tyre is not suited to the tight and twisty nature of the Hungaroring. Almost all the drivers struggled for grip, overheating their rear tyres through the chicanes.

Usually this would improve as the track became more grippy but with such high temperatures this didn't happen as drivers locked their brakes and ran off the track throughout the day.

Soft tyre is optimum tyre

In the afternoon, teams switched focus to the yellow striped soft compound and straight away the times dropped quite considerably.

Over a single lap run most drivers improved by over one and a half seconds and with the better grip, that means degradation will be similar to that of the medium because there will be less sliding around.

In a normal dry race a two-stop strategy looks to be the way most teams will go considering that the evolution of the track in Budapest is among the highest on the calendar, therefore the tyre life of the Pirelli's will continue to improve.

Red Bull best of the rest

With such an emphasis on downforce, Red Bull has seemingly returned back to its 'best of the rest' role behind the Mercedes.

Sebastian Vettel was third and held quite an advantage over team-mate Daniel Ricciardo as the Australian seemed to be pushing a bit too hard in his RB10.

During the race simulation, the Milton Keynes team also looked the nearest competition to the Silver Arrows consistently managing lap times within three-to-five tenths of the Mercedes.

Just behind there is also a battle brewing between Williams and Ferrari. The Prancing Horse appears to be faster over a single lap, however, Williams normally save their optimum pace until Saturday, and during the longer runs the four cars appeared very equally matched consistently lapping in the 1:29's as the Red Bull and Mercedes dipped in the 1:28's.

Congested midfield

The scrap for places in the lower half of the top ten is fiercely contested with several teams staking their claim.

McLaren look stronger than expected with Kevin Magnussen putting in the fifth best time of the day. Jenson Button endured a tricky practice, struggling to find the right balance in his MP4-29, but they appear to lead the four teams in this group.

Just over a second covered the 2009 champion in ninth to Esteban Gutierrez in eighteenth with Toro Rosso just outside the top 10, ahead of both Force India's, with Lotus also just ahead of Sauber.

Adrian Sutil broke the two-by-two order by splitting the Force India's in 14th, however, much like Williams, the German's former team don't necessarily show their hand until qualifying.

Finally, at the back, Kamui Kobyashi led the two slower teams in the Caterham despite the Leafield team having more trouble than most with a lack of grip.

He led the Marussia's as Jules Bianchi edged Max Chilton, although the British driver was hampered for much of the day by mechanical issues, and Marcus Ericsson brought up the field in 22nd in his Caterham.

Advantage Hamilton

Heading into the weekend, it appears Nico Rosberg has plenty to do if he wants to stop Lewis Hamilton taking a third straight win in Hungary.

The 2008 champion had the edge throughout the day in all areas, however, his recent Achilles heel has been getting it right in qualifying. So for Rosberg, maybe there is a chance to capitalise on what will likely be a slightly wary approach from his team-mate.

But no doubt Hamilton will put his recent troubles behind him and will be the man to beat all weekend in Budapest.

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