Lewis Hamilton set the pace in treacherous conditions, topping times in both opening practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the last race before Formula One’s mid-season break.
The 27-year-old was quickest for McLaren in the morning free practice session as the teams found their bearings and then repeated the feat in a rain-hit afternoon session which saw seven-time champion Michael Schumacher crash in his Mercedes.
Hamilton’s best time of one minute and 21.995 seconds came before the rain hit the Hungaroring circuit midway through the afternoon session after he and McLaren teammate Jenson Button had dominated in the morning.
Finn Kimi Raikkonen was second fastest for Lotus ahead of Brazilian Bruno Senna for Williams and the two Ferraris of Brazilian Felipe Massa and championship leader Fernando Alonso. Hamilton’s McLaren teammate Jenson Button was sixth. Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany was eighth for Red Bull after failing to clock a fast lap on soft tyres and Schumacher, 43, was 10th.
Schumacher’s teammate and fellow-German Nico Rosberg was 11th and Australian Mark Webber, in the second Red Bull, was down in 14th.
‘Can’t afford another non-points finish’
Earlier, Hamilton admitted that he cannot afford another poor finish if he wants to stay in contention for this year’s world championship.
The 27-year-old McLaren driver retired from last weekend’s German GP after a puncture stole any chance he had at fighting for victory. The 2008 champion, who wound up 19th at the European GP in Valencia in June, admitted last weekend’s result had been another major blow to his title hopes.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2012.