Three days after the funeral of Jules Bianchi, Formula One experienced another “heart in mouth” moment on Friday morning (evening AEST) when Sergio Perez survived a spectacular accident in the opening free practice for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Mexican driver lost control of his Force India car, hit the barriers and flipped upside down, but was able to walk away unhurt.
The session was red-flagged and delayed by 17 minutes before it re-started only to be halted again due to debris on the circuit with four minutes remaining.
“It was a really bad accident, pretty unlucky,” Perez said.
“The track was dirty and I went on the AstroTurf and I hit the barrier on the other side of the track at a very bad angle, so it made the car roll over.
“But everything’s alright. It was a strange accident. I thought it was under control, but the AstroTurf was very dirty which is why I went into the wall. We’ll have to check everything in detail.”
Perez was able to climb from his upturned car with help from track assistants and appeared unhurt as he walked away.
After removing the car and clearing the circuit, the session re-started, only to be stopped again when Finn Kimi Raikkonen ran wide across the kerbs at Turn 12 and the front wing fell off his Ferrari. He ran over it and suffered a puncture.
“I don’t know what happened,” Raikkonen said. “I lost a piece of front wing.”
The session was halted, the track cleared again and then re-started for just a final minute that had no impact on the order at the time of the timing monitors.
Series leader and defending two-time world champion Briton Lewis Hamilton was fastest with a best lap of one minute and 25.141 seconds ahead of his Mercedes teammate German Nico Rosberg by 0.109 seconds.
Hamilton leads Rosberg by 17 points in this year’s title race after nine of the 19 races and he is seeking a record fifth win in Hungary.
Raikkonen was third on Friday ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo and his Red Bull teammate Russian Daniil Kvyat with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel sixth in the second Ferrari.
The session was the first live Formula One action since Bianchi’s death nine months after he crashed into a recovery vehicle in torrential rain during the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka last October.