The first of two Free Practice sessions at the Hungaroring was extremely eventful, with last minute changes, substitutions and a dramatic crash.
In a horrific moment, Sergio Perez of Force India-Mercedes was riding on the track when his rear suspension failed as he mounted the kerb. Perez spun out of control, his front left tyre flat, and hit the opposite wall as his car overturned. Tense moments ensued as crew scrambled to extricate Perez. He was, thankfully, unharmed and sent immediately to the medical center to ensure there had been no other trauma. Officials pronounced him to be in absolutely no danger. More details and video footage of that crash here.
The practice session saw its first red flag following the crash, as marshals and cleanup crew removed debris from the track and a crane lifted what was left of Perez’ car. This would not be the only stoppage to the race.
As the session went on, several teams had issues – most significantly among them Ferrari, with both drivers facing problems of different kinds. Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel was heard over team radio complaining to the crew that he had suffered a 'sudden loss of power', which started what will definitely be a worrisome weekend for crew and drivers at the Prancing Horse.
While no further details are available at this time on what may have caused Vettel’s car to lose power, it is suggested that he had connector issues that led to the loss in power. Teammate Kimi Raikkonen had more worrying trouble. Appearing to mount a kerb as Perez had done, Raikkonen complained of a flat front left tyre as his car careened down the track as his front wing shattered into pieces with pieces strewn across the asphalt. This would be the second red flag of the practice session, which would ultimately leave under half a minute for drivers to continue racing until the end of the session.
Lotus Racing also had significant issues. Facing serious cash flow issues, the team only received their tyres 50 minutes prior to the start of practice. Romain Grosjean sat out the session and was substituted by British driver Jolyon Palmer, who drove alongside Grosjean’s teammate Pastor Maldonado. Palmer was unable to set a time.
Nico Rosberg of Mercedes, who had been having brake issues earlier in testing said on team radio today “all is good with the settings”, indicating the team are in the clear.
Provisional standings at the end of first practice are as follows: