FERRARI’S Charles Leclerc led second free practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix yesterday while Red Bull’s Sergio Perez started badly with a crash that halted the opening rain-hit session.
Leclerc lapped the Hungaroring with a best time of one minute 17.686 seconds on a dry track after first practice was rendered almost meaningless by a heavy downpour.
McLaren’s Lando Norris was second, only 0.015 slower than the Monegasque, with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly third and AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda fourth.
Red Bull’s runaway Formula One championship leader Max Verstappen, winner of the last six races, was only 11th but teams were on different strategies as part of an “Alternative Tyre Allocation” trial that made fewer sets available.
Verstappen was also holding plenty in reserve and did not do a low-fuel run on the soft tyres.
The initial focus was on Perez after the Mexican crashed his newly-upgraded car two minutes into opening practice and on his first quick lap.
Perez, second overall but a massive 99 points behind Verstappen after 10 races, brought out red flags as he smacked into the tyre wall at turn five.
“I cannot believe this,” said Perez over the team radio.
“I clipped the grass, I think on braking, I just lost it,” he added.
The Mexican has failed to qualify in the top 10 in his last five races, only once standing on the podium in the same period, and the pressure is on with Red Bull reserve Daniel Ricciardo increasingly in the frame as a possible replacement.
Perez was only 18th in the second session after locking up and damaging a set of soft tyres.
Ricciardo was returning to the cockpit as replacement for axed Dutch rookie Nyck de Vries at Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri and was 14th in the second session.
Mercedes’ George Russell, who took his first career pole position in Hungary last year, led first practice in 1:38.795 after the rain had eased off.
Australian Oscar Piastri was second in that session for McLaren, with Lance Stroll third for Aston Martin and Norris fourth.
Piastri missed part of the later session as mechanics checked the damaged floor of his car.
Mercedes’ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, winner a record eight times in Hungary, did not set a time in session one and ended up 16th in the second with Russell last. Both were using medium tyres.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz also brought out red flags in first practice when he beached his car at turn three with 14 minutes remaining.