The choice of the soft and medium compounds, rather than soft and supersoft Pirelli used last year, is quite conservative and has surprised some teams which would have benefited from the supersoft tyre.
Pirelli say it’s because the medium operates well at lower temperatures, like we had last year, but it will also suit teams who run well on mediums. Perhaps there has been some lobbying there…It means that the strategy will probably come down to fine margins with two stops being the target. It will be interesting to see whether the medium tyre turns out to be the better race tyre, as many strategists predicted it might be in Germany.
Here’s how we see the way the teams will work out the best way to do the race. When you have read up, see if you can find the best strategy for Sunday’s race using our UBS Race Strategy Calculator tool. We set the default at more or less exactly what the top three runners in Germany did, with a medium/medium/soft strategy. Let’s see if we are right again in Hungary.
Hungaroring – 4.381km kilometres. Race distance – 70 laps = 306.630 kilometres. 14 corners in total. Average speed of 196km/h is the lowest of any permanent track on F1 calendar.
Aerodynamic setup – High downforce. Top speed 301km/h (with Drag Reduction System active on rear wing) – 291km/h without.
Full throttle – 55% of the lap (low). Total fuel needed for race distance – 150 kilos (average/high). Fuel consumption – 2.11kg per lap (average)
Time spent braking: 14% of lap. Number of brake zones – 11. Brake wear- High.
Loss time for a Pit stop = 15 seconds (average/low)
Total time needed for pit stop: 19 seconds
Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.35 seconds (high)
The Hungaroring circuit is rarely used and so the track is usually dirty at the start of the F1 race weekend and the grip improves as the weekend goes on. This means that it’s very easy to be misled by the tyre performance on Friday and the only really meaningful work that can be done on car set up and planning race strategy is in the one hour session on Saturday morning.
The track is tight and twisty with generally a low grip surface and it is also quite bumpy.
The track is all about slow corners and is quite technical. It is also physically challenging for the drivers as they are always turning or braking with very little time for a rest, apart from the short main straight. Although the braking is not particularly hard, the brakes don’t get much chance to cool down so wear is high.
The start is always crucial at Hungaroring, as the slow second and third corners tend to open the field out. The run down to Turn 1 is quite long; from pole position to the braking point before Turn 1 is 400m. KERS will be important at the start, but in the race it will be less effective; there is not a lot of high energy braking time so it’s hard to get the KERS fully charged during a lap of the race.
The Hungarian Grand Prix is the eleventh round of the 2012 FIA F1 World Championship and thus marks the start of the second half the season.
Red Bull has taken a big step forward in the middle part of the season and has had the edge in qualifying and the race recently. They have made significant gains in low speed corner performance and that will pay dividends at the Hungaroring. However they are likely to see their controversial engine maps outlawed this weekend by the FIA, so it will be interesting to see if that slows them down. The circuit should also suit Ferrari, while the McLaren and Lotus cars tend to be strong on circuits with more medium and high speed corners and softer tyres.
As far as drivers’ form is concerned; it has been a happy hunting ground for Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button who have both won the race twice. Fernando Alonso won in 2003, Kimi Raikkonen in 2005, Heikki Kovalainen in 2008 and Mark Webber in 2010. Michael Schumacher has four Hungary wins.
The forecast for the weekend is temperatures around 27-28 degrees, but there are thunderstorms in the air, which could well bring rain, as with last year.
There is a strong chance that it will rain on Friday for the third race in a row!
Pirelli tyre choice for Budapest: Soft (yellow markings) and Medium (white markings). This combination will be making its seventh appearance this year.
The choice of the tried and trusted soft and medium compounds, rather than soft and supersoft used last year, is quite conservative and has surprised some teams which would have benefited from the supersoft tyre. It means that the strategy will probably come down to fine margins with two stops being the target. It will be interesting to see whether the medium tyre turns out to be the better race tyre, as many strategists predict it might and as it was in Germany.
Its expected performance life is 29 laps, compared to 22 for the soft, while the soft should be around 0.3secs to 0.5 secs faster per lap, but reaching a crossover point where the medium becomes better over the long run. The target for the first stop will be around lap 17.
The Hungaroring is notoriously hard on the front tyres, partly due to all the long corners and partly due to the balance of the car being much more forward.
In the past, overtaking was extremely difficult at the Hungaroring, but the DRS adjustable rear wing zone, situated on the pit straight, should help create overtaking opportunities, as it did last year.
The time needed for a stop at Hungaroring is quite short at 15 seconds, but the tyre wear rates should not be too bad, despite the high temperatures so it’s likely that we will see predominantly of two stop strategies this weekend. The smart ticket for the top ten runners could be to run used softs at the start (as the regulations say they must) and then new mediums for the second and third stints of the race.
Chance of a safety car
Safety cars are rare at the Hungaroring.
The chances of a safety car are only 20% and there have been only two in the last seven years.
The start of the Grand Prix is absolutely vital in terms of executing the ideal race strategy. A few places gained means a team has more options, while a few places lost usually means switching to Plan B and being more aggressive to make up ground.
As far as 2012 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season, on aggregate, as follows (taken after the German Grand Prix) –
+27 Massa *****
+ 22 Glock,
+15 Kovalainen, Vergne
+14 Senna * *****
+12 Raikkonen, Pic
+9 Maldonado****, Karthikeyan
+ 5 Di Resta *****
+2 De la Rosa ****
+ 1 Vettel, Button, Petrov*****
Held position: None
-3 Rosberg, Grosjean** **** *****
* Senna, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were all involved in accidents on 1st lap in Australia
** Schumacher and Grosjean collided on Lap 1 in Malaysia, Senna and Perez pitted for wet tyres on opening lap
***Perez punctured on lap 1 in Spain and went to back of field
**** Eliminated by or involved in first lap accident in Monaco
***** Di Resta eliminated lap 1 at Silverstone, Petrov did not start
***** Massa, Senna and Grosjean involved in first lap collisions dropping them to the back
Pit Stop League Table
Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds by F1 teams.
It is clear that the field has significantly closed up in pit stops.
The league table below shows the order of the pit crews based on their fastest time in the German Grand Prix, from the car entering the pit lane to leaving it. The positions from the previous race are in brackets.
Worth noting is that McLaren has been working hard on its pit stops and they now have broken the record with a 2.31s stop in Germany. Also Marussia’s fifth place in the table, ahead of Mercedes is significantly higher than their position in the championship.
1. McLaren 2.31 secs (1)
2. Red Bull 2.76s (3)
3. Ferrari 3.04s (2)
4. Lotus 3.21s (7)
5. Marussia 3.30s (6)
6. Mercedes 3.37s (4)
7. Force India 3.37s (8)
8. Toro Rosso 3.46s (9)
9. Williams 3.55s (10)
10. Sauber 3.62s (5)
11. Caterham 3.80s (11)
12. HRT 4.66s (12)
Now you have read up, see if you can find the best strategy for Sunday’s race using our UBS Race Strategy Calculator tool
The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is written by James Allen with input and data from several F1 team strategists and from Pirelli