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Page last updated at 13:54 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 14:54 UK

Hamilton top as McLaren set pace

HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX
Venue: Hungaroring Dates: 24-26 July 2009 Coverage: Live coverage of Friday's practice sessions, Saturday qualifying and Sunday's race - which starts at 1300 BST - across BBC TV, radio and online platforms. Find full listings here

Lewis Hamilton

Highlights - Hamilton sets pace in Hungary (UK users only)

By Sean Chaney

Lewis Hamilton clocked the quickest lap of the day during the second practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

McLaren's world champion left it late with a lap 0.047 seconds faster than team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, who had topped the morning timesheets.

A low-key day for Brawn's Jenson Button ended with the championship leader posting the 13th fastest time.

Red Bull's championship-chasing duo Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were fourth and sixth fastest respectively.

Williams put in another solid practice performance as Nico Rosberg recorded the third fastest time with team-mate Kazuki Nakajima fifth quickest in the second practice session.

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Brawn's Ruben's Barrichello was seventh while Toro Rosso's Formula 1 debutant Jaime Alguersuari avoided any major incidents in 20th.

Less than two seconds separated all 20 drivers in bright and sunny conditions at the Hungaroring just outside Budapest.

Kovalainen was running with a new diffuser and front wing in Hungary and he was quick to make the most of the updates which gave Hamilton's car a performance gain of about 0.8 seconds a lap in Germany two weeks ago.

McLaren have now set the pace in the the last four practice sessions and will be aiming to end a barren spell of 10 races without a podium finish on Sunday.

Red Bull's Mark Webber was asked after the sessions if he thought McLaren were as competitive as their practice performances suggested. "Yes" was the reply.

"It's not just McLaren though, it's Brawn, Ferrari, Toyota. There's loads of guys. It's a short track and it's very repetitive in terms of corners. It won't be this tight in Suzuka where the good cars have a chance to use their aerodynamics.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa
Some drivers skidded off the track as they struggled for grip

"We're in the hunt, for sure. I don't think we're off the pace. We're part of the pace. But as expected here it looks like there's a few more boys coming to the party."

Track temperatures climbed to 44 degrees in the afternoon session and several drivers appeared to struggle for grip.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa lost control on a couple of occasions and ended up deep in the gravel at Turn Nine, before cutting along the grass to rejoin the action.

In the first session Vettel - who has won races in China and Great Britain this season - was heard on Red Bull team radio team saying: "The temperature of the tyres is sky high and there is no grip at all."

Heikki Kovalainen

Highlights - Kovalainen fastest in Hungary

Webber admitted that tyre wear was an issue but said the Red Bulls were coping better with it in Hungary than they had earlier in the season in Monaco.

"It went OK on the soft tyre. I would like to have done a few more laps, but we had a hydraulic problem.

"Looks a bit more difficult on Sebastian's car and maybe it would have got to that point if I had done more laps. So wear is not trivial. It's there for sure."

Championship leaders Brawn arrived in Budapest with a major upgrade package which includes a new diffuser, rear wing and bodywork and they used Friday's first session to test their new parts with race fuel loads.

It went OK on the soft tyre. I would like to have done a few more laps, but we had a hydraulic problem

Red Bull's Mark Webber

"There's still some work we need to do to be really competitive," said Button.

"But our pace is good, and the direction we are taking with the car is the correct one, and I'm happy with the balance."

"I don't know where we stand after today. I was 13th, but we're quicker than that."

The high temperatures which have hampered Red Bull at the Hungaroring could play into the hands of title rivals Brawn, who have struggled to get optimum tyre temperature in the cool conditions of the last two races.

Practice performances are rarely the most reliable guide to race results as most teams use Friday's sessions to analyse and assess any developments and modifications they have made to their cars.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen was running with the new front wing that helped team-mate Felipe Massa get onto the podium at the Nurburgring.

All eyes were on Toro Rosso rookie Jaime Alguersuari at the start of Friday's first practice session as the 19-year-old debutant put in his first tentative laps in an F1 car.

The Spaniard traded fastest lap times with team-mate Sebastien Buemi in a quiet opening half hour and improved his lap time by over six seconds, but he still finished the session in 20th position, one place behind his team-mate.

Both drivers were looking to benefit from a major overhaul of the Toro Rosso as the team ran with the new diffuser, front wing, nose and top bodywork that has served sister team Red Bull so well since Silverstone.



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see also
Hungarian GP practice photos
24 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Hungarian Grand Prix practice results
07 Jul 09 |  Results
Hamilton lauds McLaren progress
24 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Hungary GP practice as it happened
24 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Piquet Jr dropped by Renault team
04 Aug 09 |  Formula 1
There can be no excuses - Button
23 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Webber agrees new Red Bull deal
23 Jul 09 |  Formula 1
Alguersuari joins Toro Rosso team
20 Jul 09 |  Formula 1


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