BUDAPEST: German Sebastian Vettel set the pace for Red Bull in Friday’s opening free practice session for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, the 23-year-old tyro leading his team-mate Australian Mark Webber, 33, by just one-tenth of a second.
The Red Bull pair, who have dominated most of the year’s practice and qualifying sessions, were in charge throughout the morning and their times lifted them a second clear of the rest of the field.
Vettel’s best lap was 1min 20.976sec on a day when much of the early focus was on the Ferrari team’s reaction to the ‘team orders’ controversy that exploded at last Sunday’s German Grand Prix.
Pole Robert Kubica, boosted by support from his compatriots in the crowd at the Hungaroring circuit 20 kms north of Budapeast, was third-fastest for Renault ahead of defending world champion Jenson Button of McLaren.
Button’s McLaren team-mate and current championship leader fellow-Briton Lewis Hamilton was down in 18th place after a difficult morning.
Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello was fifth for Williams and Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa sixth for Sauber ahead of two-times champion and compatriot Fernando Alonso in the leading Ferrari.
Alonso, who dismissed talk of any extra pressure on him as a result of his tainted victory at Hockenheim last weekend, was narrowly ahead of Germans Nico Rosberg and seven-times champion Michael Schumacher, both of Mercedes, and rising star Nico Hulkenberg in the second Williams.
Brazilian Felipe Massa, in the second Ferrari, who was left frustrated after leading but finishing second, following team directions, last weekend, was 12th.