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Hungarian Grand Prix Preview: Hungaroring, July 23-26, 2015




The P Zero White medium tyres and P Zero Yellow soft tyres will be in action for the Hungarian Grand Prix: an event steeped in history as it was the first race ever to be held behind the former Iron Curtain, on a distinctive circuit just outside Budapest that was described by one former world champion as like “a supersized go-kart track.” This gives a clear impression of the track characteristics: it is tight and twisty with one corner leading straight into the next one – and its compact nature makes it very popular with spectators, who are able to see most of the circuit from any one vantage point.

Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “We go from Silverstone – one of the fastest and most flowing circuits on the F1 calendar – to the Hungaroring, which is among the slower circuits with a seemingly non-stop series of technical corners. It’s a real challenge for the driver, car, and tyres as they are always working hard: apart from the pit straight, there is no real point on the circuit where there is any respite. One of the biggest challenges is the weather: it can be extremely hot in Budapest in July, and obviously this has a significant effect on thermal degradation. In order to find the right balance between performance and durability, we’ve selected the medium and soft tyres, which is the same nomination as last year. This selection is soft enough to provide the mechanical grip needed to negotiate all the corners, yet hard enough to withstand the punishing weather conditions and track layout of the Hungaroring. This is not always the easiest circuit to overtake on, so tyre strategy can make a real difference.”

The biggest challenges for the tyres:

There is only one significant straight on the Hungaroring, which means that the tyres do not get much opportunity to cool down. As a result, the medium tyre in particular (a low working range compound) will be constantly working at the upper end of its working range if it is hot. However, rain has been seen at the Hungaroring in the past too: notably last year.

As well as being tough on tyres, the Hungaroring is very physically demanding on the drivers. They have often compared it to Singapore (renowned as the most physically demanding track of the year) due to the high number of corners, significant ambient temperatures, and comparatively little airflow though the car.

The Hungaroring is a circuit that is quite well balanced in terms of traction, braking and lateral energy demands. All the forces acting on the car are roughly equal in their extent, meaning that a neutral set-up is needed. The teams tend to run maximum downforce to generate the most aerodynamic grip.

Last year’s strategy and how the race was won: Daniel Ricciardo won the 70-lap race for Red Bull, using three pit stops and a combative strategy to gain an advantage. Wet conditions meant that the drivers started on the intermediate tyre, which in turn signified that they were under no obligation to run both compounds. After completing his opening stint on the intermediate, Ricciardo ran the rest of the race on the soft tyre, with strategies also affected by two safety car periods. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton used tyre strategy to help him finish a remarkable third after starting from the pitlane.

Expected performance gap between the two compounds: 1.2 – 1.5 seconds per lap.

The Pirelli team choose their race numbers: #9, Matteo Albucci, Travel Co-ordinator

“For me it’s number 9: this is the number of the month I was born in – September – and it has always seemed to follow me around, appearing by chance on the number plates of the cars I have had, for example, as well as a few other coincidences. I did a bit of research and read a description of the number, which says it’s ‘an active and dynamic number in its nature and effects’. I always liked that!”

Who we’re following on Twitter this week: Fake Charlie Whiting, @charlie_whiting. With around 45,000 followers, the fake Charlie probably has an even higher profile than the real one – but the genuine Charlie is very amused by his alter ego, having even invited Mark McArdle (the blogger behind the account) up to race control to look around. Fake Charlie has a host of opinions about more or less everything in Formula One – and they are all rather funny.

The tyre choices so far this year:

P Zero Red P Zero Yellow P Zero White P Zero Orange
Australia Soft Medium
Malaysia Medium Hard
China Soft Medium
Bahrain Soft Medium
Spain Medium Hard
Monaco Supersoft Soft
Canada Supersoft Soft
Austria Supersoft Soft
Great Britain Medium Hard
Hungary Soft Medium