Valtteri Bottas ended up being the fastest man on Friday in Hungary. The Finn set the fastest time in FP2, just 0.027s ahead of teammate Lewis Hamilton. Both Mercedes were stuck behind Max Verstappen in FP1, who then struggled in the afternoon.
The Hungaroring set up for one of the hottest venues of the calendar, as the tarmac reached 63°C during free practice two.
"It was roasting today, I probably lost 3 kilos" said seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton at the end of the day.
Hamilton was under the spotlight in the last two weeks after Silverstone's contact with Max Verstappen which led the Dutchman into the barriers, with the Red Bull driver forced to retire.
The Hungarian Grand Prix will be the last race of the season before the summer break, and Verstappen currently leads Hamilton by just eight points. Red Bull seemed to struggle during free practices, while Hamilton is confident Mercedes will fight for pole and victory on Sunday.
“To see Valtteri and I just on the front row pace-wise, I think that’s great for the team, and we’ll only improve on that,” he said.
“So we’ve got some work to do tonight to try and see how we can finesse the car a little bit more, but it’s a good start.
“[I’m] quite optimistic with the extreme temperatures right now. I’m optimistic because I think we can definitely improve the car balance-wise. And if we can do that, it puts us in a better position for the race as well.
“But of course, it’s much nicer to drive when it’s cooler. These tyres are not happy, most of the time anyways, so they definitely don’t like this temperature,” he finally said.
Valtteri Bottas also complained about temperatures as well, declaring the car felt like a "Finnish sauna".
“I think lately we’ve been making improvements when it’s hot,” he then said speaking about performances.
“It’s not so bad. Today is proof. I don’t think we’re in a bad place. But you never see all the cards from other teams on Friday.
“I have to say in practice one, with the balance, we had quite a lot of work to do, but we quickly reacted, and it starts to improve quite a bit," said the Finn that, as teammate Hamilton, is sure Mercedes can still improve, but the weather can also play a role.
“But I’m sure there’s still more to come tomorrow, no doubt. It’s good to see that most likely we’re going to be in the fight for pole tomorrow, so that’s really motivating.”