Hamilton shades Rosberg in Hungary practice

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Budapest—Lewis Hamilton continued his midseason surge of form on Friday when he topped the times ahead of his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in opening free practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The 31-year-old Briton carried on at the twisty Hungaroring where he had left off on the sweeping curves of Silverstone where he won the British Grand Prix, outpacing the German by more than two-tenths of a second.
Hamilton clocked a best lap in one minute and 21.347 seconds as he revelled in his speed on one of his favourite tracks, where he is seeking a record fifth win and a current hat-trick of straight wins.
Rosberg, who had signed a new two-year contract with the team earlier on Friday, swapped fastest laps with him through the session.
Rosberg leads Hamilton by one point in the championship ahead of the 11th race of the 21-race season.
The two Mercedes men were a full 1.6 seconds clear of third-placed Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari, the four-time champion winding up ahead of his teammate Kimi Raikkonen.
The Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were fifth and sixth, but both men chose not to use any of their supply of the super-soft tyres.
After a damp and humid start, the circuit dried out and the sun rose to produce much of the expected heat at the tight and dusty track 20km north-east of Budapest.
The McLaren team enjoyed the conditions that reduce the advantage of the Mercedes-powered teams and, despite spins, two-time champion Fernando Alonso and 2009 champion Jenson Button were seventh and eighth.
Frenchman Romain Grosjean was ninth Haas and Mexican Sergio Perez 10th for Force India.
Before the action, the Formula One world champions posted a video of Rosberg and Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff signing the new contract with the caption “It is done …” on their official Twitter page. In it, Rosberg clenched his fist and gave a thumbs-up sign.
Another post, a photograph of the contract, was accompanied by the message: “signed, sealed, delivered”.
Rosberg and Mercedes had been in discussions about a new contract for several months and the driver had recruited former Formula One driver Austrian Gerhard Berger to represent him, allowing him to concentrate on his own racing.
“Nico has been a core member of the Silver Arrows since the team returned to the sport in 2010 and has played a crucial role in the team’s success in that time,” said a team statement.
Rosberg has won 19 races with the team since he joined in 2010.
Mercedes’ confirmation of Rosberg signals that all three leading teams, including Ferrari and Red Bull, have retained their drivers for next year.—AFP

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