Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton opted for the most conservative tyre choice for this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix by taking the fewest soft tyres for the Hungaroring.
Pirelli has revealed the teams’ tyres choices for the Hungarian round of the Championship, the last race before the four-week August summer break. The Milan-based company provides the teams with the C2, C3 and C4 compounds for this weekend’s race, the same choice as it was the case in Germany a week ago.
The Mercedes duo went for the lowest amount of soft tyres, both Hamilton and Bottas will have eight sets of C4 soft compounds. Interestingly, no other team selected fewer than nine sets of soft for either of their drivers. On top of that, Bottas will have the most medium tyres with four sets.
Toro Rosso, Alfa Romeo and Renault drivers will have the highest number of softs with ten sets. Most of the teams elected for different tyre allocation regarding the hard and medium compounds for their drivers, indicating that they intend to carry out extensive long-run simulation on Friday to give the engineers plenty of data to study the behaviour of the compounds and work out the best tyre strategy for the 70-lap race.
High tyre loading through the corners
According to the sport’s solo tyre supplier, the Hungaroring has provided good grip over recent years. Lateral loads and tyre stress are medium around the twisty layout of the track, leading to moderate degradation. However, thermal degradation can be quite high if weather is scorching hot. Warm weather is not an uncommon things in Hungary at this time of the year as average temperatures tend to be among the highest of the season.
Teams use high downforce settings to help negotiate the succession of corners, but mechanical grip from the tyres is equally important at the twisty circuit. The Hungaroring is all about corners, most of them slow, which all arrive in quick succession. This means that the tyres are constantly working, with no chance to cool down.
Last year's winning strategy was a one-stopper, with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton going from ultrasoft to soft on lap 25 (of 70) and not using the hardest compound at all. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel was second with an alternative one-stopper, from soft to ultrasoft, while his team mate Kimi Raikkonen was third with a two-stopper: three different strategies in the top three.
The lap record still belongs to Michael Schumacher. The German clocked in a lap time of 1m19.071 in the 2004 Hungarian Grand Prix with his Ferrari F2004. It will be interesting to see whether anyone can break the fastest race lap with the 2019-specification tyres.