Esteban Ocon was one of the stars of a very hot Free Practice 2 for the Hungarian Grand Prix, winding up fourth, behind only the Mercedes pairing of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton, and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen – with Ocon hoping he could carry that form through to qualifying.
Following a chassis change at the last round at Silverstone, Ocon took his first points since Monaco after finishing ninth in the British Grand Prix.
Two weeks later, and despite taking only 11th in FP1 at the Hungaroring, he was right on it in FP2, finishing fourth, 0.747s adrift of Bottas’ leading time – with the Frenchman even ahead of the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
“I’m pretty happy – it’s been a good day,” he said. “It’s pretty tricky with the conditions, very, very hot. I can’t remember a moment where the track was above 60 degrees, so it is extreme. But we’ve been doing good learnings from the long run, from the short run.
Esteban Ocon: Track temperatures at Hungaroring practice were ‘extreme’
“From FP1 when we put the car down, the car felt pretty strong on the hard tyre. We had a little bit of traffic in P1, but it was a free lap in P2 and putting it together felt quite nice, so pretty pleased,” he added.
“It’s super close. We are well in the top 10 now, so we’ll need to see what happens tomorrow in quali when everyone pushes flat out. It’s a small circuit. I think to have a traffic-free lap, some good tyre management and some good communication with the team is going to be key so hopefully we’re going to be able to do that.
“But a productive Friday. Tomorrow might be cooler, so we’ll reset a bit but we had a good Friday and the car seems to be in good shape.”
Ocon’s team mate Fernando Alonso was less happy with his day, with the Spaniard having spun wildly in FP1 en route to P6, before claiming seventh in FP2, over four-tenths off his team mate.
2021 Hungarian GP FP1: Alonso damages front wing in big slide
“It was okay,” said Alonso. “It was very hot and humid, so it was a very demanding day physically, for the mechanics as well, for everyone in the team. But we did manage to complete the whole programme, no issues there, testing the three compounds of tyres, a lot of information.
“I think we’re not totally happy with the balance yet, so still more to come, and hopefully tomorrow we can see more performance.
“I don’t think that Fridays are really important,” added Alonso. “We saw a few weekends where our Fridays seemed a little bit more competitive than Saturday and Sunday. So we’re still with our feet on the ground, knowing that Q3 is still a big target for us, so let’s see what we can do.”