Hungarian Grand Prix: Charles Leclerc tops FP2 as Max Verstappen misses out on top 10

Jamie Woodhouse
Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Ferrari's Charles Leclerc at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Budapest, July 2023.

Charles Leclerc signed off on Friday at the Hungaroring in P1, while Red Bull’s runaway Championship leader Max Verstappen did not even feature in the top 10.

Leclerc’s 1:17.686 got the job done by the slimmest of margins as he claimed P1 in the FP2 session just 0.015s up the road from McLaren’s Lando Norris, with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly completing the top three.

With the Hungaroring having dried out nicely since the rain-impacted FP1, it was no surprise to see a busy track from the off as the teams and their drivers set about making up for lost dry-running time.

But, as Norris and Logan Sargeant traded setting the pace in the opening minutes, Verstappen clearly was in no rush to head out as he watched the early action via the screens in the Red Bull garage. His team-mate Sergio Perez, after that embarrassing FP1 shunt, plus the Mercedes and Ferraris joined Verstappen in biding their time.

George Russell was the first to bolt in the Mercedes W14 which had an early controls issue, as Russell’s brake balance change attempt resulted in a strategy mode change. recommends

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Norris meanwhile was having trouble with bottoming in the McLaren MCL60, even though he did not believe it was “hurting anything”, while Zhou Guanyu was giving Hamilton, now putting his Mercedes through its paces on the medium tyres, a frustrated hand wave over what he felt was a spot of impeding.

No such troubles for Sargeant though as he led the way as the session passed its 20-minute mark, 0.075s clear of Verstappen who was now out there on the medium rubber.

Soon though the qualy runs started to ramp up on the soft tyre, Yuki Tsunoda going P1 with a 1:17.934, a tenth clear of Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg, before Norris returned to the top of the timings with a 1:17.7.

Esteban Ocon was able to avoid Daniel Ricciardo, emerging from the AlphaTauri garage, to continue on his way out of the pit lane to join the soft-tyre runners. Ocon was later on the other end of that scenario as Leclerc was forced to slam the brakes on.

Out on the track Leclerc had reported an upshift issue in Turn 9 at the wheel of the Ferrari SF-23, but as his team got stuck into the data, it seemed it was a niggle quickly solved as Leclerc delivered a new P1 time of a 1:17.686 on the softs. Sainz was having less joy as he just about squeezed into the top 10.

Verstappen was also struggling to trouble the leaders, his latest effort on the softs good enough for P11 only.

Zhou escaped a rough ride over the kerbs at Turn 4 without floor damage, but Oscar Piastri was not afforded the same luxury with work ongoing at McLaren to get his broken floor fixed in time to allow for some further track time, Piastri indeed making it back out for the final few minutes.

But, did the weather have disruptive plans again? With reports of rain at Sector 2, all eyes were on the sky. Certainly nothing as heavy as the rain seen in FP1 arrived, but that did not stop Hamilton reporting that he had “no grip” out there.

P1 it was then for Leclerc, 0.015s up on Norris at the end of a strong session for both Ferrari and McLaren, though Verstappen it seemed had not come close to unleashing the top performance of the Red Bull RB19.

FP2 times

1 Charles LECLERC Ferrari 1:17.686
2 Lando NORRIS McLaren +0.015
3 Pierre GASLY Alpine +0.232
4 Yuki TSUNODA AlphaTauri +0.248
5 Esteban OCON Alpine +0.359
6 Nico HULKENBERG Haas F1 Team +0.372
7 Valtteri BOTTAS Alfa Romeo +0.399
8 Fernando ALONSO Aston Martin +0.419
9 Guanyu ZHOU Alfa Romeo +0.422
10 Carlos SAINZ Ferrari +0.496
11 Max VERSTAPPEN Red Bull Racing +0.593
12 Lance STROLL Aston Martin +0.633
13 Alexander ALBON Williams +0.691
14 Daniel RICCIARDO AlphaTauri +0.699
15 Kevin MAGNUSSEN Haas F1 Team +0.818
16 Lewis HAMILTON Mercedes +1.060
17 Logan SARGEANT Williams +1.150
18 Sergio PEREZ Red Bull Racing +1.292
19 Oscar PIASTRI McLaren +1.431
20 George RUSSELL Mercedes +1.489