Hamilton and Rosberg both struggling in Hungary

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They may have dominated both practice sessions at the Hungaroring, but both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have complained about problems that made them feel uncomfortable with the Mercedes W05 car on Friday.

Hamilton finished as the fastest driver in both FP1 and FP2, enjoying an advantage of roughly two-tenths of a second over Rosberg at the top of the timesheets. The Briton is looking to surpass Michael Schumacher’s tally of four victories in Hungary this weekend to become the most successful driver to have raced at the circuit, but he isn’t feeling 100% ready in his bid for a fifth victory.

“We struggled with poor grip on track today,” Hamilton explained. “I don’t know if that’s down to the tires or the track itself but it was quite bad throughout both sessions. It’s going to be important to get a good grid position tomorrow as it will be difficult to follow cars on this track and it’s always tough to overtake here.

“We have some work to do overnight to ensure we get the best setup for the weekend as we’re not fully comfortable with the car just yet, but our race pace looked okay. We’ll have to look through the data to really know where we stand.”

Rosberg finished second in both sessions to Hamilton, and he too was complaining of problems with the car during the second session. However, the fact that Mercedes remained ahead of the field gives him confidence heading into qualifying tomorrow.

“I was a bit surprised that we had the quickest car here today as I expected the Red Bulls to have gotten a bit closer again, so that’s a really encouraging start to the weekend,” Rosberg explained. “The car feels great and is super quick in the corners, so overall I’m quite happy.

“I definitely still need to find some time and there is some setup work for me and my engineers to do tonight if we want to achieve that. But I’m confident that we can make it happen. Qualifying will be crucial here, as overtaking is not easy at this great track. We’ll work hard as always during the evening and see what happens tomorrow.”

Red Bull and Ferrari do appear to be in better shape at the Hungaroring compared to other circuits, but they still lack the pace to mount a serious challenge at the front. They may not be where they want to be just yet, but Rosberg and Hamilton will be fighting it out at the front of the field once again on Sunday.

Mercedes: F1 teams need to work together to avoid split

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MELBOURNE, Australia — Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Friday that Formula One teams have a responsibility to try to overcome their differences over the future of the sport in the face of a threat by Ferrari to quit because of a number of proposed changes.

Bernie Ecclestone, who ran F1 for 40 years before being replaced by new owners Liberty Media last year, has raised the possibility that Ferrari chairman Sergio Marchionne could walk away from F1 and form a breakaway series over Liberty’s future vision for the sport.

Ferrari is unhappy with Liberty’s proposal to simplify engines and redistribute prize money among F1 teams after the current contract with teams expires at the end of 2020.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene would not comment on the specifics of Marchionne’s previous comments at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Friday, but said: “My only suggestion, please take him seriously.”

Wolff is also taking the possibility of Ferrari walking away seriously. He told Britain’s Press Association before the Australian GP that he agreed with Marchionne’s concerns and that Formula One can’t afford to alienate Ferrari or lose the team.

“Don’t mess with Sergio Marchionne,” he said. “Formula One needs Ferrari much more than Ferrari needs Formula One.”

Wolff was more diplomatic on Friday, saying he hopes all sides could come together for the good of the sport.

“I think this as much a battle on track as much as it is a fight off track for an advantage,” he said. “It is clear the current governance and how the rules are being made is not very functional. There’s too much different opinions and agendas on the table and we need to sort it for 2021 for the best interest of the sport.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner agreed there are too many competing agendas, suggesting that the FIA-Formula One’s governing body-and Liberty Media come together to decide on a set of regulations and financial framework for the next contract and the teams can then decide if they want to accept it or not.

“Trying to get a consensus between teams that have varying objectives, different set-ups, is going to be impossible,” he said. “It’s history repeating itself. It happens every five or six years, every time the Concorde Agreement comes up for renewal.”

Tempers also flared during Friday’s media conference over another issue of contention between the teams – Ferrari’s recent hiring of FIA’s ex-safety director, Laurent Mekies.

Horner believes Ferrari broke an agreement among teams at a recent meeting to institute a 12-month waiting period for any former employee of FIA or FOM (Formula One Management) to be able to start working for one of F1’s teams. The concern is that former FIA staff who go to work for a specific team could share secrets from other teams.

“Certain teams were pushing for that period to be three years, but in the end it was agreed upon being 12 months,” he said. “It almost makes those meetings pointless if we can’t agree on something and action it.”

Arrivabene defended Ferrari’s move, saying Mekies would not join its team until after a six-month “gardening leave” period.

“There is nothing wrong with that because we were absolutely respecting the local law, the Swiss local law where Laurent was hired,” he said.