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How the F1 teams will approach the Hungarian Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  25 Jul 2012   |  4:17 pm GMT  |  87 comments

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.

Track characteristics

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.

Form Guide

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.

Weather Forecast

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!

Likely tyre performance and other considerations

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.

Number and likely timing of pit stops

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.

Recent start performance

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,
+18 Perez***
+17 Alonso
+15 Kovalainen, Vergne
+14 Senna * *****
+12 Raikkonen, Pic
+11 Kobayashi****
+9 Maldonado****, Karthikeyan
+ 5 Di Resta *****
+5 Schumacher*
+4 Hamilton
+2 De la Rosa ****
+ 1 Vettel, Button, Petrov*****

Held position: None

-1 Hulkenberg
-3 Rosberg, Grosjean** **** *****
-4 Webber
-18 Ricciardo*

* 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

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Teams use many sensors to control (to check) tire temperatures, perhaps in different parts and layers of the tire rubber. As long as it’s occured to have been a key factor in this year’s F1, it’s interesting thing, whether are the teams able to roughly monitor others’ tire temperature? for example by infrared “spy”cameras or some other devices.


I luv this strategy calculator!! I know that so MANY more variables exist prior to and on race day, but this is fun!! based on this simplistic calculator, I am really liking a 3 stop strategy. not because of my roughly 10 sec end of race difference, but because the second and third stints potentially allows SO much time in clear air, and the last stint allows 17 laps to get around the 2-stopper for the win…

of course, a tenth here… a starting position there… a gain or loss of 1 or two positions at the start, track temps, etc., all mean a whole bunch in the end…

thanks, James for the fun!!!


As with Germany James, the calculator shows the soft-soft-medium as the faster strategy by 5 secs. Everything else being the same, mainly the timing of pit stops, the middle stint on used options is 5 secs faster.

But as you have mentioned, passing on track is hard so being faster on a different strategy doesn’t really help. Unless if you have saved enough life in the tyres for a superquick in-lap either to do an undercut or run long and jump someone in the pits. To do that, used options isnt the best tyre. So like last week, the front runners will play it safe with soft-med-med, uless it rains to make it exciting.


Hi James,

Could you tell us whether the engine mapping saga at Red bull will affect other Lotus cars.



Great preview James (as always). Very helpful prep.


Just a question regarding the simulator …

I assume the simulator starts on used options as 90 to 100% of the top 10 cars will?

Then, using the point (lap) where they start to drop in performance, they last until lap 24.

At that stop, new primes last (using the same visual criteria) until lap 47.

The simulator then believes that used options, with a heavier car, will last for 24 laps, while new primes, with a progressively lighter car, will last for 23 laps. This seems incorrect. Am I missing something?


Yes for simplicity’s sake it assumes used options as we are looking at the top ten starters.

It’s not a question of lasting, it’s a question of relative pace. The tyre model here is accurate and based on 2012 tyre data


“We set the default at more or less exactly what the top three runners in Germany did”

I’m still seeing the Germany calculator, not the Hungary one, James.


Try force refresh the page with “Ctrl F5”


Refresh, it’s set to Hungary


It’s fine now (wasn’t this morning).

The options again look significantly quicker than the prime… according to the calculator.

Practice looks as though it might be wet again.

Are you sure you changed it from Germany ?



Lovely preview, as always, I like that format quite a lot.

James, a question, if I may, regarding Mclaren’s record pit stop time – how is this 2.31 measured? Is it based on car’s telemetry, like velocity 0 = start & km/h > 0 = end ; calculation?



I don’t understand how the places gained/lost off the start can be so swayed into only drivers who have gained positions? Sure, it is an aggregate but it does not add up. Shouldn’t it should be the same amount of places gained as places lost in total? Please clarify. Cheers


Don’t bother to try and calculate, just look at it as a performance indicator in terms of gains.


Maybe we should quantify the positions lost from cars pitting at the end of lap 1 due to incidents.

To include big numbers like losing 21 places etc skews the results. This way it gives an indication of form


Yes, you should back out those numbers for 1st lap crashes. Including them makes the std dev so large that the number is completely meaningless.

I’ll bet that more than one back-marker has lost more than an entire GP just in 1st lap crashes alone.

Don’t know what they could do about it, but they spend unGodly amounts of time and money on hi-tech and fast drivers and then throw them all into one of those Lotto ball machines at each start. Its idiotic.


Maybe you should just put a little note under the stats explaining the situation? As this question seems to come up pretty much every race.


Hi James, just a question. Do you think Alonso is poised to run away with the title now? I know time will tell, but what does your experience and intuition say?

Looks ominous to me, ominous for the other drivers… And will be good. Good to see a driver coming on top of things while the car isnt the best. Last time it happened was probably with Hamilton in 2008 or maybe Kimi 2007.


I disagree.

Both the Ferrari and Mclaren teams had the best cars of those respective seasons.

In fact, in 2007, Ferrari won 9 races, Mclaren 8

In 2008, Ferrari won 8 races, Mclaren won 6 races, Renault 2 races and BMW and Toro Rosso 1 each.

Personally, I think the last time a car that shouldn’t have won the WDC but did, would have to be Prost in 1986, when Piquet and Mansell managed between them to take points off of each other.


Not having the Soft/Supersoft tyres available has robbed Sauber and Lotus of a possible win here I think.

I was looking forward to seeing the Lotus and Sauber do a repeat of Canada and maybe a bit more. 🙁



May I ask where your weather forecast of 27º-28ºC comes from?

I ask simply because seeking weather forecasts is now become my number one priority when completing my tipping for upcoming races.

Every site I have visited, none have given a forecast below 30ºC for any of the 3 days of the race weekend. Most have indicated the potential for rain – but temps are all above 28ºC and as high as 34ºC for Sunday. Even f1.com has temps of 30-31ºC predicted.



James or anyone: Since some people are posting here about the Red Bull engine maps, hope it’s OK I do too –

Just out of interest, does anyone know how Jo Bauer originally came across the anomaly? (I’m glad he did, it’s good to see FIA getting on top of things!).

Have they been listening to the engine revs, as many teams listen to their competitors engines? Did they get a tip-off from somewhere? (Makes you wonder what other grey-area tweaks get by undetected……….)


I heard that Mclaren was the one “throwing the stone and hidding the hand”…but that are only rumours. In my opinion the pace in Valencia raised some eyebrows and associated with rumours they decided to investigate.


Hi James,

Thanks for the great insight as usual.

Can you please also include a recap of last years race? So we can understand some of how the teams performed last year.

Looking forward to the race but not the mid-season break.


You can dig it up from his site… it’s all there. o_O


HI James,

Many notable commentators say Kimi has’nt lost his speed. Do you think he has taking into account his performance?

Do you think the Lotus wing stalling device worked in practice?


I think Monza will be a good test to see which Super DRS works the best Mercedes or Lotus.


I must be stupid, because I don’t understand the ‘places gained/lost off the start’ table. There are far more drivers who are shown as having gained places, than having lost them.

But surely when one driver gains a place, another driver must lose one? So the average gain/loss should be zero, right? I count an average GAIN of 9.5 places, or about one per race so far. They can’t all gain a place, on average, can they?


This has been brought up again and again…

If you look at the lost table, only those involving incidents were accounted for. Losses due to others gaining were not counted. This focus more on gains than losses.


Those which have crashes or retirments are lost listed as losing places. That’s why there are more gained places than lost.


I believe that’s because places lost by drivers due to first lap incidents are not accounted for in their tally, but other drivers who do gain places due to such incidents have such overtakes added to their tally.


Do we know since when Red Bull was using the forbidden now engine maps? Was it only in Germany or in other races as well?

tom in adelaide

The engine sounded suspect at Silverstone according to a few reports…. (I wasn’t there).


Some friends and I spoke to a very, VERY senior person in F1, (who doesnt work for a particular team, but you’ll know of him) in Heidelberg on sunday night.

We asked him about this and he said teams have known about it all year.


I guess the really big question now is how will Red Bull do after the clarification on engine torque maps (and how will this be applied for the weekend as the new rule talks about the maps used over the first 4 races of the year).

I can see it costing them performance in the wet but the dry is a different matter.


I reckon RBR will always have something up their sleeve that’ll get them back up. Whether they are legal or not that’s another matter.


Hi James,

This season has been fantastic…the tires, DRS, close racing, never-know-what-you’re-going-to-get, near wins for the underdogs and so much more.

Caterham has been threatening to break into a points scoring position for a while however it seems as though their season is really winding down with so much competition and impressive reliability.

Do you suppose we may see Caterham score at least a point?

Also, will we see Sauber win one? Or is their qualifying pace (like Lotus-Renault) simply not good enough to capitalize on their pace?

Keep up the good work!


Replace Kovy even Massa can win a point in that car.


Come on Mercedes! I have to put my money on one of the Mclarens winning and definitely want to see Schumacher up there in the race and not just qualifying. If it rains then Alonso and Schumacher will definitely be up there in the top 2.

I think Red Bull is going to slower this weekend. A lot of the advantage they had I think was in their engine mapping settings and now that they have to change it, it will be interesting to see if they will battle for pace. Probably highly unlikely. Hope fully Vettel will be more mature this time and realize that if shuts his mouth and race and stop calling people cucumbers and stupid maybe he will actually see the benefit of learning from your mistakes when you are not on the top step of the podium

It is going to be interesting.

James what was the strategy last year? 3 stop? I know it did rain last year at the start.


+1 on Vettel cucumber stupid etc.

I’d certainly be more incline to learn to like him more if he matures rather than throw his toys about when it ain’t his day.


Yes rain affected it


Great details as usual.

Thanks James.

On a side note, it would be good to have a track design(pic) in these posts.


See how the teams approched the Hungarian Grand Prix 26 years ago.



Excellent! Thanks


1) is it just me, or are there no other options for the strategy calculator than Germany?

2) It would be really interesting to see if there are certain circuits that share similar set-ups. I would imagine that Hungary might require similar springs and dampers to Monaco.

3) It would also be interesting to see how many dampers they bring to a track (from what I gather they don’t even run adjustable dampers, due to weight concerns!), or if their 7-post rig (or simulator) is accurate enough to predict the optimum set-up.

4) Might be different from team to team, but I wonder how much they play with tire pressure versus dampers versus springs versus alignment (camber, toe, etc), when setting up the car during practice, or if that is all left untouched after leaving the factory. It would be cool to see in what order they adjust things on the car, or if they mostly just work on comparing updates versus existing parts.


Strategy looks very similar to Germany

Robert Gunning

Just checked the weather forecast, which shows a possibility of rain on Sunday. On intermediate/wet tyres what is the degradation rate of these (would it be similar to the soft and medium tyres), and would a 2 stop still be possible. Also, would the strategy be dictated purely by wear, or would thermal degradation play a role, as temperatures are expected to be high.


Dear James,

I have a hard time reading the start performance data :

is it places gained at the first corner or at the end of the first lap ?

also, it lacks to take into account the quality of your quali session.

Massa does seem good at the start, gaining grounds on slower cars mostly because he has not done a great qualifying job.

glock stats seem much better as he is often where his car should be and thus must have overtaken “better cars”

Also, HAM and VET seem “not so good” but they often started at the front.

here’s an idea, how about dividing the number of places gained by the average starting spot of your team(averaging the car’s worth) ?


I’ve asked the same question previously and yes, it’s calculated at the end of first lap.


The Ferrari’s have been lightening off the line all year, I think this is a highly significant (and often overlooked) factor in Alonso’s success.

The Ferrari’s were pretty poor in qualifying earler in the year, but because their race pace was good and their traction off the line was so incredible, the qualifying pace really wasn’t hugely significant (despite many commentators clinging to the notion that the Ferrari was massively inferior to it’s rivals).


“The Ferrari’s have been lightening off the line all year, I think this is a highly significant (and often overlooked) factor in Alonso’s success.”

Surely, if you have a too slow package to qualify at the first 2 rows, it is helpful having a good start. But, even so you have to manage the big risks involved in passing a large number of cars at the start. A broken frontwing/puncture is not so difficult to get and would distroy the race for you. The good starts is an enabler, one that Ferrari (Alonso) have used together with skill (risk management and courage) and some luck, in the best way possible, giving themselfs a shot at racing with the fastest cars. The regular customers at the front rows, also have good starts (and faster packages), so the Ferrari start system will not give a big advantage to out-score those – other means needed. Other drivers having a good “start system” Hamilton/Vettel have not managed as well either…


‘Lightening off the line’?

Isn’t there a minimum weight limit?…….& parc

ferme rules after Q3?


That’ll teach me to try to be funny – you get taken seriously!

Was thinking of the above mis-spelling.

“Lightening” = “Lightning”



Being lightning off the line don’t necessarily mean it’s violated the weight limit rules. The car’s good, the drivers are good off the line, great work from engineers and designers, and the team gets the job done. Simple without any conspiracy theories really.

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