Hamilton sets the pace in opening practice for the Hungarian GP

Lewis Hamilton picked up where he left off last weekend in Germany as he set the fastest time in the first practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest

Hamilton sets the pace in opening practice for the Hungarian GP

The McLaren driver outpaced world championship leader Sebastian Vettel by 0.214 seconds with a lap of 1m23.350s, while Fernando Alonso was third fastest for Ferrari.

Mark Webber was fourth, despite a shunt late in the session, ahead of Jenson Button and Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari..

The circuit was dry when the session started but overnight rain had dampened it at the edges, and as ever the Hungaroring was devoid of purchase in these early stages of the grand prix weekend.

Nico Hulkenberg was the first man to gun it, setting a lap of 1m29.671s 20 minutes into the session. That time would be lowered by more than six seconds through the 90 minutes of running. The German, who was standing in for compatriot Adrian Sutil at Force India for the first session, indeed improved on that time on the very next lap to a 1m28.286s.

Just before the half hour mark Sebastien Buemi lowered it again by more than a second (1m27.058s) in the Toro Rosso as he begun the team's 100th grand prix weekend - not counting all those it completed as Minardi.

Button was the first heavy-hitter to file a time, that of 1m25.697s. Not long after that McLaren team-mate and German Grand Prix winner Hamilton joined him on track and immediately went faster with a 1m24.284s. Button then improved to 0.699s behind his team-mate before heading back to the pits as the team evaluated new aero parts and a diffuser.

Ferrari's Massa then went second quickest to split the McLarens, before his team-mate Alonso lapped fastest of all (1m24.179s) having recovered from a small fire early on due to overheating when he returned from the pits after his constant speed run.

It was just about half distance when finally the Red Bulls came out, but Alonso was still working it and lowered his own best time even further to a 1m23.642s

Webber's best at this point was only good enough for second behind the Ferrari.

Vettel meanwhile made steady progress with a fairly long run, which included a lap to back off and a run through the pitlane, which eventually saw him move to the top with a 1m23.564s. The stint also included a locked up moment when he ran across the Turn Five chicane.

With 20 minutes to go the McLarens returned to the action and Hamilton lowered the target time to 1m23.350s, some 0.214s quicker than Vettel had managed.

It was about this time that Webber had a rare shunt, but not before he'd improved to fourth in the times. The Australian went off at Turn Nine, taking off his front wing in the process, having run wide over the kerbs that then pinged him across the track and into the barrier. The car was sufficiently unbroken for him to drive back to the pits however.

After that, most drivers were satisfied to complete their long-run information gathering which ensured that Hamilton ended up fastest from Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Button and Massa. Hamilton himself though was set to improve his own time in the dying minutes, having set purple sectors in the first two, only to be blocked by Jaime Alguersuari. The McLaren man returned the compliment on the next tour.

The Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher were split by 0.119s in seventh and eight positions, while Sergio Perez (Sauber) and Vitaly Petrov (Renault) completed the top ten.

Bruno Senna ended the session 15th on his first free practice run for Renault - the Brazilian some 0.7s off the pace of Petrov.

Further down the field, Jarno Trulli, who was projected to use a new power-steering system for this race in a bid to help him get to grips with the Lotus - ended the session 20th, 0.5s off Heikki Kovalainen's time.

 Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.350s 19 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m23.564s + 0.214 24 3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m23.642s + 0.292 29 4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m23.666s + 0.316 12 5. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m23.772s + 0.422 20 6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m24.115s + 0.765 25 7. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.250s + 0.900 22 8. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m24.369s + 1.019 20 9. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m24.620s + 1.270 24 10. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m25.093s + 1.743 22 11. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m25.113s + 1.763 21 12. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m25.336s + 1.986 22 13. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m25.357s + 2.007 17 14. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m25.836s + 2.486 24 15. Bruno Senna Renault 1m25.855s + 2.505 25 16. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m25.890s + 2.540 28 17. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m26.099s + 2.749 36 18. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1m26.124s + 2.774 25 19. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1m26.878s + 3.528 26 20. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1m27.352s + 4.002 21 21. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m28.533s + 5.183 30 22. Jerome D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1m28.903s + 5.553 22 23. Tonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1m29.059s + 5.709 24 24. Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth 1m29.904s + 6.554 26 All Timing Unofficial 
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