Fernando Alonso has admitted McLaren is looking 'very strong' following opening practice today in Hungary.
Alonso was third quickest this morning in FP1, finishing the session 0.292 seconds off pace setter, Lewis Hamilton. While the Spaniard improved this afternoon and was second best in FP2, he again trailed his former McLaren team-mate, this time 0.241s slower - his best effort, a 1m 21.259s.
Speaking after the session, the birthday boy added that the third sector is proving the most problematic for the Scuderia.
“First of all thanks to everyone for their birthday wishes on my thirtieth, especially to Bernie [Ecclestone], who came along to wish me the best along with you journalists during the press meeting!,” Alonso reflected. “It's nice to celebrate here with Ferrari, a team I will definitely be with at least until I am thirty five.
“We finished the planned work programme and that's always a positive start to a race weekend. Now we will analyse all the data gathered and make the best choices for qualifying and the race.
“I am pleased I was able to do so much running, especially from the point of view of studying the tyre degradation, which at this track is always a significant factor. The track is still very dirty, as is the norm for a Friday at the Hungaroring: however, we know it will improve each day and by Sunday afternoon, it will be much more rubbered in than today.
“We saw that McLaren looks very strong, as indeed it was last weekend. Now we must try and improve the car, especially in the third sector of the track, where we seem to be suffering more than most.”
Team-mate Felipe Massa meanwhile was sixth in both sessions and his best lap of the day was a 1m 22.099s - 0.840s off the sister car, although he maintained he could have gone quicker.
“I was not able to do a quick time on my first lap with the Super Soft, because I ran wide at Turn 9, so today's lap time is not totally representative of the potential at my disposal: the tyres degrade easily so you have to give it your best immediately,” Massa explained.
“We got through a lot of work [though], especially in terms of comparing the two Pirelli tyres. The first signs are that degradation is significant, both on the Prime and the Option, which will be a decisive factor when it comes to strategy.
“I think we will witness a very close contest between the usual three teams, Red Bull, McLaren and ourselves.
“It will be not be easy to get a useful grid position, but it will be very important to do so, because I think that, despite everything, overtaking at this track will still be very difficult.”