The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber blew away the field in first practice ahead of Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Even accounting for different fuel strategies that can result in a high variance in times, the duo were highly impressive as they seek their 11th pole from 12 races and sixth race victory.
Come the end of the 90 minutes around the Hungaroring, that often carries the description of being tight, twisty, as well as dusty due its lack of use over the year, Vettel finished 0.130 secs ahead of Webber with a lap time of minute 20.976secs.
Their nearest challenger was Renault’s Robert Kubica who was just over a second adrift of Vettel, a phenomenal gap, with reigning world champion Jenson Button fourth in his McLaren, almost another four tenths of a second back.
The remainder of the top 10 contained a veritable mix of drivers as Button was followed by Williams’ Rubens Barrichello and the Sauber of Pedro de la Rosa, as high as the Spaniard has figured all year.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, in the spotlight this week in relation to the team orders controversy that helped him win the German Grand Prix on Sunday, was seventh, 1.796secs down.
The Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher followed closely behind, separated by just 0.115secs, with Nico Hulkenberg rounding out the top 10 in his Williams, the only other driver to finish within two seconds of Vettel.
Adrian Sutil, in a Force India sporting the team’s own version of the performance-enhancing exhaust blown diffuser, was 11th.
The German was half a second up on team-mate and reserve Paul di Resta, driving a car in normal trim as the engineers looked at the comparison data.
In 12th, and somewhat poignantly, was Felipe Massa, on his first day back at the track where just over a year ago he was involved in a near-fatal accident.
As if Massa did not have enough to contend with following the fall-out from Hockenheim, the Brazilian has also had to cope with the emotion of heading into this weekend.
Yesterday Massa spoke with a number of the personnel at the medical centre at the circuit who helped save his life following his smash in qualifying for last season’s race.
The 29-year-old was struck over his left eye by a spring that broke off a Brawn GP car then driven by friend and compatriot Rubens Barrichello.
Massa sustained a fractured skull and spent three days at the local AEK hospital in an induced coma as the medical team fought to save him.
Massa made a remarkable recovery, leaving the hospital after nine days, although he later required further surgery to have a metal plate inserted to protect his skull.
Massa took to the track today admitting to having no memory of the accident, other than images he had seen on television, and confident the incident would play no part in his thinking.
Unusually, albeit clearly on heavy fuel, Lewis Hamilton found himself down amongst the smaller teams in 18th place in his McLaren, three seconds behind Vettel.