BUDAPEST, July 24- Three days after the funeral of Jules Bianchi, Formula One experienced another “heart in mouth” moment on Friday morning when Sergio Perez survived a spectacular accident in 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,” said Perez. “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 ran wide on the exit of Turn 11 at the Hungaroring with 32 minutes remaining in the interrupted session when the right rear corner of his car – adorned like all of the cars with a tribute to Frenchman Bianchi who died last Friday — appeared to suffer a technical failure, possibly with its suspension.
Perez’s car spun across the track and, after swiping the barriers on the right, then turned upside down as it landed back on the track. The driver was able to climb from the 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,” said Raikkonen. “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 in one minute and 25.141 seconds ahead of his Mercedes team-mate German Nico Rosberg by 0.109 seconds.
Hamilton leads Rosberg by 17 points in this year’s title race after nine of this year’s 19 races and he is seeking a record fifth win in Hungary.
Raikkonen is third, six-tenths adrift, ahead of Australian Daniel Ricciardo and his Red Bull team-mate Russian Daniil Kvyat with four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel sixth in the second Ferrari.
The struggling McLaren Honda team had an encouraging session with two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso taking 11th spot ahead of his team-mate Briton Jenson Button.
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.