Hamilton quickest in first practice for Hungarian GP

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Lewis Hamilton has made a good start in his bid for an unprecedented fifth victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix by finishing fastest in first practice on Friday morning at the Hungaroring.

The Briton recorded a fastest lap time of 1:25.814 to finish just under two-tenths of a second clear of Mercedes teammate and championship leader Nico Rosberg at the top of the timesheets.

Mercedes once again dominated proceedings during practice, suggesting that the loss of the FRIC suspension device at the German Grand Prix has not done as much harm to the Silver Arrows as many expected.

Both Hamilton and Rosberg completed runs on the option and prime tires, as well as some development work to ensure that all systems are working properly following a troublesome weekend in Germany that saw the Briton suffer a brake failure during qualifying.

Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso put in a good first display for Ferrari at the Hungaroring to finish third and fourth respectively. Many questions have been asked about Raikkonen’s motivation of late, but if practice is anything to go by, he could be back in business in Hungary after a difficult start to the season.

To make matters even better for Ferrari, nearest rivals Williams finished well down the order. Felipe Massa came home in tenth, with Valtteri Bottas down in 15th. The Finn’s pursuit of a fourth straight podium finish may be more of a challenge this weekend than it was in Germany.

Red Bull enjoyed a solid first practice session, with Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo finishing fifth and eighth respectively. Kevin Magnussen and Jean-Eric Vergne put in some good lap times to finish between the Red Bull cars, and Jenson Button, donned in his pink liveried helmet to commemorate his father’s birthday this weekend, was classified ninth.

Once again in Hungary, it appears that the advantage lies with Mercedes. Can the Silver Arrows continue to dominate during FP2? Join us at 8am ET live on Live Extra and online, or watch the encore on NBCSN at 12pm ET.

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.