If Fernando Alonso can’t limit his losses this weekend and at least finish near Sebastian Vettel, I am going to write off another season to Red Bull Racing and their German star.
I think it will take something drastic to either change or develop for Vettel to come back after the summer break and climb into an uncompetitive car.
The young world champion looks set to leave his competitors scratching their heads going into the final race before the summer break – the German’s incredible pace in both practice sessions for the Hungarian Grand Prix with Pirelli’s new tires just shows Red Bull Racing’s ability to adapt and set their car up accordingly.
Vettel was quickest in both sessions ahead of his Australian teammate Mark Webber with a best lap in the afternoon of 1:21.264 seconds. A year ago, this time would have seen him on pole.
Potential teammate Lotus‘s Kimi Raikkonen followed Vettel and Webber in third. Showing a little improvement to recent efforts, Ferrari‘s Alonso took fourth.
Amazingly, the top five drivers were separated by less than three-tenths of a second in the afternoon when Raikkonen’s teammate Romain Grosjean was third quickest to underscore Lotus’s potential.
Mercedes, who have been the team to beat in qualifying with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, had to focus on getting on terms with the new type of tire after being forced to miss a test at Silverstone last week due to the Pirelli scandal.
Rosberg ended up seventh while Hamilton was sixth.
McLaren looked in better form at a circuit that has brought them six wins in the last eight seasons. Jenson Button, twice a winner in Hungary, was sixth fastest in the morning while Mexican teammate Sergio Perez managed ninth.
Germany’s Adrian Sutil, preparing for his 100th race for Force India was 10th.
Struggling at the back of the grid came Venezuelan reserve-driver Rodolfo Gonzalez, who replaced Britain’s Max Chilton for Marussia and was comfortably slowest.
Combined practice times:
1. Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull-Renault 1m 21.264s
2. Mark Webber – Red Bull-Renault 1m 21.308s
3. Romain Grosjean – Lotus-Renault 1m 21.417s
4. Fernando Alonso – Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 21.426s
5. Felipe Massa – Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 21.544s
6. Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 21.802s
7. Nico Rosberg – Mercedes-Mercedes 1m 21.991s
8. Kimi Räikkönen – Lotus-Renault 1m 22.011s
9. Jenson Button – McLaren-Mercedes 1m 22.18s
10. Adrian Sutil – Force India-Mercedes 1m 22.304s
11. Paul di Resta – Force India-Mercedes 1m 22.526s
12. Sergio Perez – McLaren-Mercedes 1m 22.529s
13. Pastor Maldonado – Williams-Renault 1m 22.781s
14. Esteban Gutiérrez – Sauber-Ferrari 1m 22.837s
15. Nico Hülkenberg – Sauber-Ferrari 1m 22.841s
16. Jean-Eric Vergne – STR-Ferrari 1m 23.369s
17. Daniel Ricciardo – STR-Ferrari 1m 23.411s
18. Valtteri Bottas – Williams-Renault 1m 23.646s
19. Charles Pic – Caterham-Renault 1m 24.325s
20. Giedo van der Garde – Caterham-Renault 1m 25.065s
21. Jules Bianchi – Marussia-Cosworth 1m 25.143s
22. Max Chilton – Marussia-Cosworth 1m 26.647s
23. Rodolfo Gonzalez – Marussia-Cosworth 1m 28.927s
James Harris is a NASCAR writer for RantSports.com