The exhaust fumes have barely cleared in Germany and already the F1 circus has rocked up at it’s next venue – the Hungaroring. Badger breaks down the information you need to know about this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hungary is a tight and twisty venue, with 5 corners that send drivers 180 degrees back on themselves. It’s also well known for being situated in a bit of a dust bowl, so the track starts dirty and slippy and gets more grip as the weekend rolls along.
The problem with the dust clearing as the weekend unfolds is one teams are used to. Every time a driver makes an adjustment and heads out on track, the grip levels have changed immensely. In essence, it’s an evolving surface the moment the first pit-lane light goes out.
The extra grippy, but not so durable, Super Soft tyre makes it’s third appearence this weekend. It’s first showing, at Monte Carlo, was exciting as it gave us an exciting qualifying with most drivers going for one run. Some had success, others – like Lewis Hamilton – didn’t, and spent the afternoon battling through the field then sharing another cup of tea and a biscuit with the stewards. It’s crucial that the one run the drivers get is mistake free and has no traffic – no pressure then!
As for the Soft compound, Pirelli have been spending the last few races having a fiddle with it’s durability and shape, which has played into the hands of Mark Webber more than anyone else. Don’t discount his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel though – the champ made a set of the yellows last 62 laps at the Principality!
As usual, expect the top ten in Q1 to use the option tyre to set their best times, and switch to the prime later in the race. The key for a good performance though will be tyre management, as the Hungaroring is a track notoriously easy on tyres, so drivers will have more say in how much grip they have throughout the race. With the warm temperature, you just never know – it’s possible that a midfielder may bolt the prime on and take the qualifying hit for a better strategic option in the race. Keep an eye out for Sergio Perez in the Sauber. The Mexican can look after the tyres well while still keeping a respectable race pace – he may just be the star of Sunday.
Expect the Red Bulls to be back on the boil this weekend. 12 months ago they dominated with Mark Webber taking the victory, but only after pole man Sebastian Vettel took a drive through penalty for backing the field up too much under the safety car. The RB7 is mighty in slower corners and the Hungaroring has them in spades, so expect the gap back to Ferrari and McLaren to widen up once more.
Not that the two bitter rivals can’t gang up on the reigning champions. Ferrari, and more specifically Fernando Alonso, are enjoying a purple patch at the moment and the Spaniard has scored the most points of any driver over the last five races. The Prancing Horse may suffer thanks to the fact it prefers sweeping fast corners, but ‘Nando split the Bulls last year in a slower car, so why not again? Felipe Massa hasn’t had the best of luck in Budapest. The Brazilian lost a certain win in 2008 with an engine failure, and escaped with his life a year later after his well documented accident. Hopefully lady luck will smile on him this time around.
The main challenger may just be McLaren. German race winner Lewis Hamilton enjoys this track and has two wins under his belt in recent seasons, while the demand for drivers to watch their tyres more may play into the hands of the silky smooth style of Jenson Button. You have to keep an eye on Lewis though – the Brit has the bit between his teeth and carries a lot of momentum out of the Nurburgring. If McLaren pile on the pressure, Red Bull may have a much longer afternoon than they may have planned for.
If it’s a wet race in Hungary this weekend, this writer will eat his hat. In it’s modern history, the only race to not be bone dry was the changing conditions in 2006, which brought Jenson Button his first career win.
Saying that, it was raining yesterday morning in Budapest, and it looked quite heavy. Virgin Racing took this picture of their transport truck, and it didn’t look nice at all…
Temperatures are due to be around the 26 degree mark for qualifying on Saturday and race time on Sunday. That’s around 40 degree track temperature, so there should be no worries for teams and drivers struggling to get heat into their tyres in colder conditions. Also means t-shirts and shorts for the fans, bonus!
Our Favourite Moment
There have been a few to choose from, but we have to go with the rally-style overtake from Nelson Piquet to get past Brazilian compatriot Ayrton Senna in 1986. Enjoy!
First Practice 8.55 – 10.35. BBC Red Button
Second Practice 12.55 – 14.35. BBC Red Button
Third Practice 09.55 – 11.05. BBC Red Button
Qualifying 12.10 – 14.20. BBC One
Race 12.05-15.15. BBC One