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Hamilton fastest, Red Bull struggle

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the first practice of the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton. Picture: AFP

BUDAPEST - McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was fastest in the first practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Friday while Red Bull, hit by a new rule banning a controversial engine setting this week, endured a slow session.

Driving in warm, sunny conditions at the Hungaroring, Hamilton clocked a best time of one minute 22.821 seconds, followed by his McLaren team mate Jenson Button and world championship leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.

Red Bull's drivers failed to make the top 10. Australian Mark Webber, second behind Alonso in the Formula One championship, was 13th while Germany's Sebastian Vettel came in 15th.

Red Bull were forced to change their engine torque mapping after the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) closed down a loophole in the regulations this week.

The new ruling, addressing a hugely complex issue, limits how much teams can change specific settings that control the amount of torque delivered by the engine in various conditions.

Red Bull were referred to the stewards over the engine torque mapping before last week's German Grand Prix.

They were cleared of a breaching the regulations but the FIA made it clear in its wording of the decision that it was not happy with the situation.

Vettel said on Thursday: "It's not as if the car doesn't work anymore. I'm quite confident nothing will change. There is probably more fuss outside the car than the difference is inside."

Red Bull have a reputation for keeping a low profile in qualifying.

Friday's conditions were a contrast to the wet build-ups to the previous two races at Silverstone and Hockenheim.

Hamilton and Button have both praised the performance upgrades which McLaren introduced following a disappointing race at Silverstone.

The Hungarian Grand Prix is the 11th of the 20 races in the season and is followed by a one-month break. Alonso is 34 points clear of Webber at the top and will lead into the break regardless of the outcome of Sunday's race.

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