Traditionally one of the hottest races of the season, the biggest challenges of the Hungarian Grand Prix are controlling the tyre degradation during the race and cooling the car. The two long 180-degree corners at the start and end of the main ...
Traditionally one of the hottest races of the season, the biggest challenges of the Hungarian Grand Prix are controlling the tyre degradation during the race and cooling the car. The two long 180-degree corners at the start and end of the main straight put a lot of stress on the front left tyre and it is vital to find a chassis set-up for the race that will avoid adding to that stress.
The aerodynamic set-up is not a problem. "It's a maximum downforce circuit and there is no point investigating any lower downforce set-up," points out Ross Brawn. However, the set-up difficulty comes in finding a good balance for the car on a track that traditionally changes performance dramatically throughout the weekend as more rubber goes down. It is also important to run two very different configurations between qualifying and the race. Looking after the tyres is not a consideration for qualifying, thus the car can be set-up for the optimum one-lap performance, rather than something that will see the tyres last for 20-odd laps with a heavy fuel load.
Monaco apart, Hungary is the second most vital circuit of the season upon which to ensure a good grid position, for overtaking around the Hungaroring track is all but impossible unless the driver in front makes a mistake. The only real opportunity is into the first corner, but an adverse downhill camber and a lot of dust and rubber build up off the racing line makes overtaking a very risky business unless it can be achieved at the start of the braking area.
Simply getting off the racing line during the race can cause big problems with rubber pick-up on the tyres, a danger which has caused several drivers to go off the road in the past as they get to the next corner and find their car's tyres have lost most of their grip. It can take several corners for them to scrub clean again.
As in Monaco, most of the place changes end up taking place at the pit stops, but in Hungary there is a lot more scope for some adventurous pit stop strategies as it is one of the few races that a three stop race strategy can be an advantage.
The tyre degradation factor, the advantages of a light fuel load, difficulties with the traffic and taking advantage of the performance profile of the oppositions tyres can leave a lot of scope for different pit stop strategies. These can often change during the race itself as the circumstances change. "It is definitely a circuit that can repay you with the right moves at the right time and, with no championship to worry about now, we can perhaps afford to be a bit more adventurous," explains Brawn.
Although there will be no testing between the German Grand Prix and Hungary, the team might well have a new Bridgestone tyre for Hungary following the results of "bench testing" in Japan. If not, they will be using the same tyres as in Germany. The cars will be unchanged since the last race and the hot weather should not be a problem. The team has still not used the full cooling potential of the current bodywork, which has been designed to cope with ambient temperatures as high as 35 degrees centigrade. Brakes are not worked very hard in Hungary and, so the team will be able to run the lightweight brakes for the race as well as qualifying.