Lewis Hamilton completed a practice double for the Hungarian Grand Prix to lay down the title gauntlet to Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton’s quickest lap of one minute 23.949 seconds was more than half a second clear of Rosberg who finished the session only fourth fastest.
The team continues to investigate a suspension problem which caused Sergio Perez to crashSahara Force India statement
On an encouraging day for the Red Bull team, who are in the midst of a lacklustre campaign, Daniil Kvyat was second fastest, 0.351secs slower than Hamilton with Daniel Ricciardo a further tenth back.
Their strong display was dampened, however, when Ricciardo suffered a Renault engine failure. With plumes of smoke billowing from the back of his Red Bull, the Australian was forced to pull off the track at turn 11 which brought the third red flag of an incident-packed day.
It began with an enormous shunt for Sergio Perez which led to Force India withdrawing both of their cars for the second session amid safety concerns.
The Mexican driver lost control of his Force India on the exit of turn 11 after he suffered a rear suspension failure. He slid across the track and collided with the barriers at high speed before being launched into the air. Perez’s car landed upside down, but the former McLaren driver reported he was “okay” before clambering out of his cockpit.
The harrowing shunt came only days after Jules Bianchi’s funeral, the Frenchman succumbing to the devastating brain injuries he suffered in a crash at the Japanese Grand Prix on 5 October.
A team statement read: “Sahara Force India will not take part in this afternoon’s second practice session at the Hungaroring as the team continues to investigate a suspension problem, which caused Sergio Perez to crash this morning. Sergio’s car suffered significant damage to the bodywork, wings and floor, and repairs are ongoing.
“As a precaution, the team has chosen not to run Nico Hulkenberg this afternoon. The team will work hard to fully understand the cause of the failure and find a resolution in order to be ready for Saturday’s free practice session.”
With an air temperature of 34C d and a track temperature in excess of 50C, it was Hamilton who maintained his red-hot form.
The world champion, who won last time out at the British Grand Prix, is bidding for a record fifth victory at the Hungaroring and he got his weekend off to the best possible start.
Quickest in the opening session, Hamilton then ended the afternoon on top of the timesheets. The margin to Rosberg will be of great concern to the German, who is 17 points behind Hamilton in the championship.
With Red Bull showing signs of a resurgence, there was encouragement for McLaren, too, as Fernando Alonso followed up a reasonable showing in the opening session to end the afternoon in eighth, 1.8secs down on Hamilton’s fastest lap. Jenson Button was 12th, two tenths adrift of his Spanish team-mate.
Sebastian Vettel, who has never won in Hungary, suffered two spins before ending the session in seventh, half a second down on Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, who is battling to save his Formula One career. The Finn was fifth.
Yesterday’s action was the first since Bianchi’s tragic passing, and all of the drivers, most of whom attended his funeral on Tuesday, sported stickers reading ‘’Ciao Jules” or “JB17” on their crash helmets. Mercedes, Williams and Bianchi’s former team, Manor, also ran #JB17 on their cars in honour of the Frenchman.
It was announced earlier this week that his race number 17 would be permanently retired from Formula One, while a one-minute silence will be held ahead of tomorrow’s race.