CLICK: Full GP2 practice times from the Hungaroring
ART's Stoffel Vandoorne managed to set the fastest time in GP2's practice session at the Hungaroring, his time of 1:29.479s on the 2.722-mile, 16-turn circuit meaning that he was faster than either the Caterham or Marussia F1 teams had managed in the earlier Grand Prix Free Practice 1 session.
However the most dramatic moment of the session came halfway through when Johnny Cecotto Jr. outbraked himself and the Trident came in too hot through sweeping left-hander at turn 2. He ended up drifting out wide, to where DAMS' Jolyon Palmer had moved over to safely allow the Trident to get past in the first place, only to now find himself right in Cecotto's path instead.
The impact launched Cecotto into the air and spat him out into the gravel trap, while Palmer's car was left with a left front puncture and broken front wing together with some suspected damage to the steering and sidepod that left him limping back to the pits for urgent repairs.
It was an unfortunate incident in what was otherwise a productive session for all concerned. Weather conditions for practice at Hungary had been pretty much ideal, bright and sunny but without the scorching temperatures experienced by the drivers last weekend at Hockenheim. However, the track conditions were another matter, with the typically bumpy and dusty Hungaroring exhibiting the usual same first-day grip issues while the cars got to work laying down rubber.
Rapax's Simon Trummer opened the day's account on the timesheets with a lap 1:42.557s, with Trident's Sergio Canamasas quickly reducing that to 1:30.254s on his third lap of the day putting him four tenths clear of Carlin's Rio Haryanto and Venezuela GP Lazarus' Nathanael Berthon.
Ten minutes into the session and Felipe Nasr had found his groove, going top with a new benchmark time of 1:30.101s in the Carlin, just three hundredths faster than Vandoorne and Cecotto. That was soon bettered by championship leader Palmer who went top with a lap of 1:29.540s in the DAMS, but Nasr quickly replied with an even better time putting him ahead again by a third of a second.
Vandoorne improved on his next lap to slip back into second place behind Nasr, and then once Nasr went for a breather in pit lane the Belgian took the opportunity of a relatively clear track to go top by a slender 0.061s ahead of Nasr and Palmer, with Russian Time's Mitch Evans in fourth ahead of Cecotto and Kimiya Sato in sixth celebrating his return to Campos Racing after missing last week's round at Hockenheim while racing in Auto GP World Series, where he is currently the championship leader.
The first half of the session had been incident-free, but after the Palmer/Cecotto incident there was also an early end to the session for Conor Daly, who pulled off in the Venezuela GP Lazarus car at turn 8 in somewhat less dramatic circumstances with a mechanical failure. The removal of the stricken car was briskly handled under local waved yellows, allowing the rest of the field to get back to work for the remaining third of the 45-minute session.
Even once the yellows were withdrawn, ageing tyres and race simulations meant that there was little movement on the timing screens although Stephane Richelmi was able to improve sufficiently to pip his DAMS team mate Palmer to third place. Palmer himself was concentrating on testing out the repairs to his car after his earlier clash with Cecotto, who was not himself able to rejoin the session before the chequered flag called time on practice.
GP2 qualifying in Hungary will take place this afternoon at 3.55pm local time (2.55pm BST) with the 37-lap feature race 1 due to start on Saturday afternoon at 3.40pm (2.40pm BST) following qualifying for the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary. The 27-lap sprint race 2 will be held on Sunday morning at 10.35am (9.35am BST) and all sessions will be shown live in the UK on Sky Sports F1.
Practice for the GP3 field gets underway on Friday evening at 5.50pm local time (4.50pm BST) with qualifying on Saturday morning at 9.45am (8.45am BST). Race 1 is scheduled for 5.20pm (4.20pm BST) on Saturday afternoon and race 2 for 9.25am (8.25am BST) on Sunday morning.
See full GP2 practice times from the Hungaroring