Sebastian Vettel is expecting a three-way battle for pole position between Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull at the Hungarian Grand Prix, following a competitive pair of practice sessions on Friday.
The Hungaroring is expected to play to the strengths of both Ferrari and Red Bull, and Friday's pace appears to suggest that to be the case as Daniel Ricciardo topped both practice sessions, with the top six -- made up of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes drivers -- separated by less than 0.5s in the afternoon. Vettel, who ended up just 0.183s shy of Ricciardo's fastest time in FP2, believes his team needs to make a step forward in time for qualifying.
"It looks very close between Red Bull, Mercedes and ourselves," he said. "It's always difficult what to expect here. Fridays are always a different story but overall I think it should be quite close, it should be good fun and important to get everything straight and right tomorrow.
"Looking at ourselves which is key -- we need to make sure we get the car in the right window, find a better setup for tomorrow and working on the tyres, working a bit on the driving. We tried some things which gave us mostly direction and we should know what to do tomorrow, but we need to make a step forward tomorrow."
Long run comparisons were hard to gauge with running affected by a spate of red flags across both 90-minute sessions. This was particularly the case in the afternoon, when most teams opted to focus on race pace, as Sauber's Pascal Wehrlein and Renault's Jolyon Palmer halted proceedings in separate incidents. Vettel says the stop-start nature of the day made it difficult to put together a representative run.
"Tricky because of the red flags," the German explained. "This morning I did not get into the rhythm, this afternoon was better with more laps in the car. I think it's been quite slippery, everyone has been struggling to find the optimum grip, find the ideal lap. As I said this afternoon was a bit better for us. We tried to play around a little bit with the car, with the setup. I think it was mostly driving to be honest."