Doubtless buoyed by having secured the maiden rostrum finish of his fledgling Formula 1 career in the German Grand Prix last time out, Nelsinho Piquet was again on fine form in practice at the Hungaroring – lapping quicker than all bar former GP2 Series title rival Lewis Hamilton.
The young Brazilian rookie ended the first day's proceedings lying just under two tenths of a second adrift of the man who beat him not only to the GP2 laurels but also Hockenheim glory a fortnight ago, and a similar margin ahead of double F1 World Champion Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso.
“Our free practice programme went well,” the recently-turned 23-year-old affirmed, “and we have made progress. The car was reacting well to the different set-up solutions that we tried, so I am quite satisfied with the day's work.
“The track changed a lot during the day and it's quite a demanding place with lots of corners, but I enjoyed driving the circuit and I hope things continue like this tomorrow.”
“It was a typical day of practice, with a lot of laps covered and lots of data to analyse this evening to be ready for tomorrow,” mused Alonso, fourth on the final timesheets having proven to be the faster of the two R28s during the morning running. “Overall we improved the car and we are moving in the right direction.
“We still have a few things to improve, but if we can make the most of the final free practice session tomorrow morning, we should be able to approach qualifying in good shape.”
Whilst seeking to point out that all was perhaps not quite as it seemed at face value, the Régie's
executive director of engineering Pat Symonds nevertheless echoed his two drivers' optimism ahead of qualifying and the race.
“It was a very productive first day here in Hungary,” the Englishman underlined. “On this circuit, where qualifying is particularly important, it's no secret that our fuel load was slightly lower than normal, but even so we look competitive. Our main focus was to understand the tyres, and in particular the effect of graining. All-in-all, it was a successful day for us.”
“This is a track we know well,” added the French outfit's head of engine track operations Denis Chevrier, “and so our main focus today was to concentrate on the set-up of the cars. There were not any problems, which allowed us to make good progress with our programme, and the results from the first day of practice are rather encouraging.
“It's difficult to know exactly where we are relative to our competitors because the impact of carrying fuel here is significant, but it was important to complete our programme, which we have done.”