Sebastian Vettel concedes it is “hard to say” where Ferrari stacks up against Formula 1 rivals Mercedes and Red Bull after Hungarian Grand Prix practice.

Ferrari headed to the Hungaroring expecting the circuit’s twisty nature to play to the strengths of Mercedes’ 2019 challenger, which appeared to be the case as Lewis Hamilton topped the opening practice session. 

But Vettel ended FP1 just 0.166s adrift in third place in what was an encouraging session for Ferrari, before rain disrupted running in an unrepresentative FP2.

“It was not bad,” Vettel said.

“I think we have some room to improve, struggling a bit to get everything out of the car on that particular lap.

“Hard to say where we are compared to the others, we will see tomorrow.

“I had plenty of margin. I think it’s more important in these conditions that I get the answer for the car rather than the ultimate laptime.”

Asked if he is hoping for conditions to be wet for Ferrari to be competitive, Vettel replied: “No I think in both conditions we should be thereabouts.

“How close, we will see. I think Mercedes look very strong out of the box straight away.”

Leclerc struggled to match his teammate’s pace throughout Friday as he ended up nearly a second off the pace in dry conditions during FP1. The Monegasque reported balance issues with his car and is hoping for rain to boost the team’s chances.

“On my side I'm not very happy at the moment in terms of balance of the car, so I need to work quite a lot on that,” Leclerc explained.

“I think in the wet, I was in better shape. Overall we are struggling a little bit with the downforce level that we have.

“It's a track where we need a lot of downforce, we knew it would be a difficult track for us, so we need to work and try to improve for tomorrow.

“It will be all about trying to anticipate what will happen on the Sunday,” he added. “I think everything will be quite different on Sunday, a lot warmer than it was today, no rain, so yeah, we will see Sunday.

“Obviously it was all about the laps before in the conditions which were changing quite a lot. We'll see tomorrow. Hopefully it will rain.”

 

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