Daniel Ricciardo dominates Hungarian practice

At a sun-bathed Hungaroring, the beaming Australian reeled off a best lap in one minute and 18.455 seconds to outstrip nearest rival and championship leader Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving during practice for the Grand Prix of Hungary on Friday.   -  Getty Images

Daniel Ricciardo hailed a "very positive day" for him and his Red Bull team on Friday after producing a convincing 'double top' in opening practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Australian led the way in both of the busy free sessions which were punctuated by three red-flag stoppages as the leading three teams were locked in a tight battle for supremacy. "Yeah, it's been a positive day for us," said the beaming Ricciardo afterwards.

"To be able to replicate our performance morning and afternoon is good and it shows we are doing well. Of course, we don't know what Mercedes are going to come up with on Saturday yet and it looks like Ferrari found some speed in the afternoon. So, I think it's going to be close. But it's all about qualifying here at this track and we are in with a real chance if we can replicate today, again, tomorrow. Yeah, I think we can do it," he said.

At a sun-bathed Hungaroring, Ricciardo reeled off a best lap in one minute and 18.455 seconds to outstrip nearest rival and championship leader Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari by nearly two-tenths of a second. It was the first time since last year's Monaco Grand Prix that Ricciardo had topped a free practice session.

Valtteri Bottas was third for Mercedes ahead of Finnish compatriot Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes. Max Verstappen was sixth in the second Red Bull, slightly less than half a second adrift of the pace, ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in a Renault, who was 1.2 seconds down in seventh. Fernando Alonso was eighth for McLaren ahead of fellow-Spaniard Carlos Sainz of Toro Rosso and his McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne.

The opening session in the morning featured one red flagged stoppage and the second session had two with both Pascal Wehrlein of Sauber and luckless Jolyon Palmer of Renault smacking into the barriers. Wehrlein was unhurt, but required a visit to the circuit medical centre while Palmer, who had damaged his car at the end of the morning session in another accident, was able to walk back to the pits, grim-faced, but unhurt.

Several other drivers including Vettel and Hamilton had spins or 'wobbles' during the course of the day as the drivers became accustomed to the demanding, dry and dusty low-grip circuit.

"It's been a tricky day with the red flags, but I think we can improve," said Vettel. "We need to move up, but I think we are definitely in it for qualifying. There are three teams in it."

After looking quick in the early stages of both sessions, Hamilton, who is seeking to secure a record-enlarging sixth win in Hungary, struggled to shine on the super-soft tyres and appeared to face a need for some overnight improvement to become competitive for a record-equalling 68th pole position.

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