And, without letting us more than four days to savor the spectacular German GP, F1 returns this Friday. This time we go to Hungary, to the Hungaroring, near Budapest. It will be the last stop before the summer holidays - more than deserved this year after the great work being done by the teams and drivers to adjust to the changes of this season.
Although the first edition of the the race was held in 1936, for political reasons there was no race there until 50 years later. So, the first official GP at the Hungaroring was in 1986. It's one of the few circuits that have not been modified in a big scale over time, so it still retains the magic of the old circuits. This circumstance makes the circuit being narrow, winding and hard to let us see action on the track and, therefore, is the GP where the stops strategy is pit stops more crucial.
To mitigate the lack of overtaking in 2003, minor modifications were made. Also, since the track isn't used much throughout the year, the asphalt is dusty, compromising the grip of the cars. We must also take into account the high temperatures recorded year after year which make the Hungarian GP endless for pilots, being a very tough race physically as it is usually almost at the limit of two hours.
The Hungaroring layout has 4'38km length and 14 curves. Drivers will race a total of 70 laps, which will make them go 306'6km. After the first straight, which is 700m long, we reach the first of the 8 right-handers , very tight in the beginning and to be open to another small straight that binds us to the No. 2 corner, to the left. This corner takes us to sectors 2 and 3, with linked curves and barely no straights. The lack of these straights also leaves a lack of heavy braking that could be used by the drivers to overtake. The two straights in the beginning of the circuit are also as the two DRS activation points. Thus, we have the sector 1 as the fastest one, and sectors 2 and 3 very twisty. The race is the second slowest GP of the season, just behind Monaco. Then, the demand of downforce is high. The suspensions of the cars are smoothed for greater traction out of corners. Since it’s a track that offers very low grip, the teams have to work on the set up of the car, emphasizing mechanical grip. The brake wear is also high.
Pirelli is bringing softs and medium compounds to this GP because, since it is a circuit with many curves, although the tire wear is medium, tires hardly have time to cool from one lap to another. Paul Hembery, director of Pirelli, made the following statements: "Hungary is known for its complicated design where it is difficult to overtake and find a perfect set-up for all the lap. This implies that the strategy is particularly important since it provides the rare opportunity to gain track position. Climate is generally an important issue in Hungary, but after checking the performance of our tires in Hockenheim, with temperatures at track being very high, we are confident that the weather should not be a problem. Tires we bring to Hungary are a little harder, in order to cope with increased demands, so we expect strategies of two stops - even we will only have a clearer idea about this when we get to the free practice on Friday. "
Hungaroring brings back good memories for many drivers. It was the GP where many have earned their first victories, such as Damon Hill, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Heikki Kovalainen. The two drivers with most wins in Hungary are Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton, with 4 each. The two most successful teams in Hungarian soil are McLaren with 9 golds and Williams with 7. The lap record is held by the Kaiser since 2004.
Will Lewis beat Michael this weekend? Will Mercedes continue with its unstoppable domain even if it is a circuit that does not have to favor them so much? The answers, at the usual time.
Free 1: Friday 25th 10:00 a.m.
Free 2: Friday 25th 2:00 p.m.
Free 3: Saturday 26th 11:00 a.m.
Classification: Saturday 26 2:00 p.m.
Race: Sunday 27 2:00 p.m.