L&T Motorsport

Hungary Test – Vettel tops timesheet, Kubica returns, Leclerc shines

Formula One finished the two day in season test at the Hungaroring and is now heading on its summer break. There was a few stories from the two days including the return of one Robert Kubica. So how did the Pole do on his first time in a new F1 car and what the others? Today we will check three of the bigger stories to come from the in season test.

Ferrari tops the time sheets and Leclerc shows his worth

Ferrari continued on from its 1-2 in the race on Sunday with Sebastian Vettel topping the time sheets on day two with the fastest lap of the week. From a four time world champion and the current championship leader you would expect this kind of performance but the talking point for the Scuderia was the performance of current F2 championship leader Charles Leclerc. The Monégasque driver has been making headlines in F2 with some amazing performances and overtakes as well and was rewarded with a full day in the car on day one. And Leclerc did not disappoint as he topped day one with a 1.17.746 on the yellow banded softs tyres as well. This performance will only help to boost his stock and he is expected to get a seat at Sauber next year after the recent new engine deal with the Swiss team and Ferrari. Vettel’s fastest time on day two was a 1.17.124 but this was done on the super softs. Leclerc currently looks like a total super star and it would seem the only thing stopping him going straight in at Ferrari is a certain Kimi Raikkonen…and possibly politics from Vettel as well.

McLaren show better reliability as Norris splits the Ferrari’s

It was a good test for the Woking side with a brief mechanical scare on day one for Stoffel Vandoorne the only issue to report really. The young Belgium took the wheel on day one and posted the second fastest lap of the day at 1.17.834, albeit on the ultra soft tyres. Day two seen youngest Lando Norris take the wheel for the first time and really impress the paddock. The 17 year old, having a great European F3 season so far, also took second on the time sheets and even set a time faster than Vandoorne on the ultra softs with a 1.17.385. The youngster settled in well and received praise from the team.

“Lando has impressed us all with his maturity, professionalism and speed, and has got to grips very quickly with the car,” said team boss Eric Boullier. “He’s certainly an asset to our test driver line-up – not to mention a potential star of the future.”

McLaren are not shy of youngsters to possibly take a race seat. Vandoorne has already got a race seat with the side while Norris and Nick De Vries, currently in F2, are the most promising from the teams young driver line up. But having talented drivers is one thing, finding a seat is another as Red Bull have shown over the years.

Kubica returns overshadows everything

It was almost a nightmare start for the Pole. With the motorsport worlds eyes all over the yellow and black car the turn out of garage was tight considering the cameramen around, causing Kubica to hit the garage wall with his rear right wheel. There was no damage but the name sign above the garage did fall down. It was Hulkenberg’s name above but can you image the internet reaction if it was the underfire Jolyon Palmer’s?

We all remember six years ago, while almost at his peak, Kubica was severely injured in a rally crash that caused his right arm to almost need amputation. It was thought that he would never drive a car again never mind a contemporary F1 car again. The Pole put in a total of 142 laps over the day, only bettered by one driver in the whole of the two days. He looked comfortable on track and set a time that was within a tenth of Palmer’s qualifying time, albeit on the ultra softs rather than the super softs. Kubica was also two second faster than Nicholas Latifi’s time on day one, Latifi a reserve and test driver for the team.

The number of laps is the interesting part for most fans and gives those who want the 2008 Canadian GP winner back on the grid. He reported no ill comfort from his long stint in the car and the forces in the new cars was not something he couldn’t manage. Of course it is early days to speculate if he will return but fans are excited and there now seems to be no physical issues to hold him back from a full time seat.

What about the rest

The other teams on the grid were overshadowed by the above stories. Mercedes ran current GP3 driver George Russell on both days with Valterri Bottas taking a few laps on day one on the 2018 spec Pirelli tyres. Red Bull decided to give Max Verstappen the most seat time with Pierre Gasly taking the wheel for part of day two while sister team Toro Rosso also ran its current driver line up on day two while Sean Gelael, an Indonesian F2 driver, took running on day one. Williams split its running between Lance Stroll (day one) and Italian GP2 Luca Ghiotto while Force India split running across both days between Austrian DTM driver Lucas Auer, who is Gerhard Berger’s nephew, and Nikita Mazepin, an 18 year old Russian currently driving in European F3 alongside Norris.

The final two teams on the grid, Haas and Sauber, where also present. The American squad gave exclusive running on both days to 19 year old American F2 driver Santino Ferrucci while Sauber ran Sweden’s Gustav Malja and Japan’s Nobuharu Matsushita, both current F2 drivers.

The F1 teams take an extended break till the end of August before returning for the Belgium GP on the weekend starting 25th August. Happy summer holidays.

Andrew Campbell
Photo Credit: Sky Sports


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