Strategy guide for the Hungarian Grand Prix

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Formula One’s tyre supplier Pirelli expects drivers to pursue a one-stop strategy in today’s Hungarian Grand Prix given the Hungaroring’s tight and twisty nature which puts overtaking at a premium. F1Techncical's Balázs Szabó analyses the strategy options for the Budapest race.

Following last weekend’s French Grand Prix, the Milan-based tyre company has brought the C2, C3 and C4 tyres for the second race weekend in a row.

The 4.3km Hungaroring is weird track as it is reminiscent of a street course despite being a purpose-built race circuit. Due to this nature, good mechanical grip and aerodynamic balance are accented around the twisty layout of the track. There is hardly any long straights on the Hungaroring, the flowing sequences of slow and medium-speed corners provide a real test of car balance and driver’s mental strength. Due to the high-number of corners, teams use the highest levels of downforce seen all year.

The track isn’t a particularly high-energy circuit, with smooth asphalt that’s sometimes bumpy in places, and the demands on tyres being more about traction than braking.

After a baking hot practice day on Friday, conditions were cool throughout Saturday, but warmed up slightly during the qualifying hour, with the session ending in 24 degrees ambient and 33 degrees of track temperature. For tomorrow’s race, similar conditions are expected, meaning that teams need to analyse the limited date they could gain throughout the qualifying session.

Based of Friday’s long run simulations, Pirelli estimates that the one- and two-stop strategy are almost identically fast – on paper. However, teams are expected to strive for a single stop given the difficulties of overtaking at the Hungaroring.

A one-stopper could be soft to hard, or medium to hard with the second option requiring a bit less management over the opening stint. Pirelli thinks that most drivers will probably stop only once, in order to safeguard track position.

However, a two-stopper is also a good option, very close to a one-stopper in terms of overall time. The obvious two-stopper would be soft-medium-medium, but soft-medium-soft is another interesting option – with the cars much lighter towards the end of the race. With Lewis Hamilton winning the 2019 race with an aggressive two-stop strategy, it could present a real opportunity for the seven-time champion or reigning champion Max Verstappen given their starting positions.

Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Mario Isola commented: “Congratulations to George for his first pole: he put together an ideal lap at exactly the right moment to secure a P1 start tomorrow.

„Today hasn't been easy with the changing conditions: although it was dry for qualifying, tomorrow’s weather is still uncertain, with cool conditions expected again. With the track ‘reset’ as a result of the earlier rain, we saw a lot of track evolution during qualifying, which meant that setting a fast lap at the last possible moment was key to getting a good time,” the Italian said.