‘It’s going to be a tough weekend’ – Mercedes drivers lament ‘difficult Friday’ in Hungary after failing to crack top-7 in FP2

Lewis Hamilton has taken eight pole positions and eight wins at the Hungaroring. But the seven-time champion had to think about a rough Friday of the 2022 Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, after finishing Free Practice 2 in 11th place, as George Russell could only manage P8.

In FP1, Russell took a more promising P5 and Hamilton P7, albeit 0.856 seconds slower than Carlos Sainz’s leading pace for Ferrari. But in FP2, the two drivers dropped down in order, leaving Russell 0.910s below Charles Leclerc’s pace – Ferrari takes Friday’s practice sessions – while Hamilton was more than a second adrift, with Ferrari drivers, Red Bull, McLaren, Alpine and Aston Martin all ahead.

FP2: Leclerc leads impressive Norris as Ferrari sweeps Friday sessions at the Hungaroring

“The car is a bit of a struggle today,” said Hamilton. “It’s bizarre how it swings back and forth from track to track. But just go upstairs and try to figure out how to get the car working right now. Right now it’s a bit loose and it’s not doing what we want it to do. So a difficult day.

“Nothing has changed on the car since last week. Same driver this week as last week! But for some reason this track doesn’t work that well, but I think once we get it right, the gap will be about the same as last week, so about a second.”

Lewis Hamilton predicts ‘tough weekend’ for Mercedes

There was more bad news for Hamilton – fresh off second place in France last Sunday – after suffering damage that prevented him from making meaningful long runs in FP2.

“I couldn’t do a run at the end because I had some damage,” said Hamilton, who was seen wide twice in turn 4 during FP2. “I had some damage to my floor, so lost a lot of downforce, and then it was quite difficult for the long-term pace, so it’s going to be a tough weekend, that’s for sure. We’ll give everything we have and see what we have.”

AS IT HAPPENED: All the action from the second practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix

Russell also struggled, complaining that he had to fly back and forth over the team radio, while also reporting that he couldn’t get through Turn 1 without locking up at some point.

But the Briton was more reflective at the end of FP2, calling Mercedes’ Friday a “test session”.

“Definitely not our smoothest Friday yet,” he said. “But a bit strange because we think it will be wet tomorrow for qualifying, the conditions for Sunday will be drastically different, so we tried quite a few things with the car.

George Russell: ‘Definitely not the smoothest Friday for Mercedes

“It was a bit of a test session, because honestly you can try to optimize everything for today, but there’s no point; it’s all for the rest of the weekend. So even though it was a really tough day, I think it’s probably been a productive day.”

Asked if that’s why he had experimented with wet set-ups on his W13, Russell replied: “No, no, I wouldn’t say it, but more in the sense of just trying things to learn more things about the car, on at the expense of maximizing, or trying to get the most out of today’s lap time, I’m just trying to gather the information to help us in the long run.

SHAPE GUIDE: Will Verstappen extend his lead in Hungary – or can Ferrari fight back?

“But we were definitely a little further away than we expected, a few issues here and there, but I think tomorrow will be a totally new day, and Sunday will be a very different day too, so it’s not all lost yet .”

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