Sebastian Vettel showed his commitment and professionalism on Friday when he topped the times to lift the gloom for an improved Ferrari in a rain-swept second practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The four-time world champion, who has been told he is surplus to requirements for next year by Ferrari, produced an encouraging performance for the under-pressure Italian team.
Ferrari have failed to deliver competitive form this year after finding their power and performance reduced by a set of new technical rulings on engines and last weekend their drivers collided with each other on the opening lap of the Styrian Grand Prix.
“There’s still a lot of homework to do, but overall it seemed like a better day,” said Vettel who delivered some encouragement to the team while team-mate Charles Leclerc was 10th but also buoyed by the improved pace in his car as the team tested updates and set-ups.
They finished sixth and seventh in the morning practice in dry conditions.
“I think this morning was okay, I think it should be a bit better for us on this track,” said Vettel. “Let’s hope that it stays like this tomorrow — we don’t know really until we hit qualifying.
“We used a little bit more laps than others in the wet, just to try and see after our weaknesses last week, and understand a little bit further.”
Ferrari failed to qualify in the top six at either of the two season-opening races in Austria, won by the two Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and six-time champion Lewis Hamilton.
“This morning went better than we expected to be honest,” said Leclerc. “We didn’t arrive here with lots of new pieces. Actually, it’s pretty much the same car, but it looks like the car is better on this track, which is a good thing.
“This afternoon, I struggled quite a bit – we were trying different things and I was not very happy with the car and struggling with confidence in the wet, but overall we have seen some positive signs.”