TWO INNOVATIONS FOR A SUMMER ‘CLASSIC’
MARIO ISOLA - MOTORSPORT DIRECTOR
"The Hungarian Grand Prix has become a classic event of the Formula 1 summer season, and as such the air and asphalt temperatures, which are usually very high, are the main features. This puts the drivers, cars and tyres to the test, not least because the twisting nature of the track does not allow anyone or anything to catch their breath. There’s a fairly long pit straight, which provides the only real overtaking opportunity under braking into the first right-hand corner. Then there are 13 more corners – seven right-handers and six left-handers – on a circuit that is second only to Monte Carlo in terms of slowest average speed; to the extent that the cars use similar downforce settings to Monaco. With so many slow corners, traction is one of the key factors for good performance and the biggest risk is tyre overheating. Despite being a permanent track, the Hungaroring is not used very often and the asphalt conditions improve considerably during the weekend as the ideal racing line rubbers in.
Usually, this race is all about strategy and tyre degradation. This year we have opted for a trio of softer compounds (C3, C4 and C5) compared to 2022, while a new tyre allocation for qualifying (known as ATA, or ‘Alternative Tyre Allocation’) will be tried out for the first time, with the obligation to use just the hard in Q1, medium in Q2 and soft in Q3 if conditions stay dry. Both these changes, at least on paper, should lead to a wider range of options, particularly in terms of strategy. The ATA also saves two sets of dry tyres compared to the traditional format (using 11 sets instead of 13) and it will be run again at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza. After that, the FIA, F1 and the teams will decide whether or not to adopt it for next season.”
THE TYRES ON TRACK
- For the Hungarian Grand Prix the teams will use softer compounds than last year. The C3 will be used as P Zero White hard, C4 as P Zero Yellow medium and C5 as P Zero Red soft.
- Budapest will host the debut of the Alternative Tyre Allocation (ATA), with just one mandatory slick compound for each qualifying session. Teams must use the hard compound in Q1, medium in Q2 and soft in Q3. If qualifying is wet, teams have a free choice of compounds as usual.
- Under the ATA rules, the number of tyre sets available for each car is reduced to 11, instead of the 13 available for a normal race weekend. Each driver will have three sets of hard tyres, four sets of medium tyres and four sets of soft tyres. The number of wet tyres remains the same: three sets of full wets and four sets of intermediates, with an extra set of intermediates authorised if it rains on Friday or adverse weather is predicted for Saturday.
- On Friday, one set of tyres must be returned at the end of each free practice session. A further two sets must be returned on Saturday after FP3. This leaves seven sets of tyres for qualifying and the race, of which at least one set of hard tyres and one set of medium tyres must be kept for the race.
- After the Hungaroring, the ATA rules will be trialled again at the Italian Grand Prix during the first weekend in September.
- Hungary often features high ambient and track temperatures. With the race taking place at the end of July, and the circuit located in a natural bowl with little airflow, Budapest will be a challenge for thermal management of the tyres as well as driver fatigue.
- The most common strategy at the Hungaroring is a two-stopper, with a one-stopper occasionally preferred. The choices made in 2022 were heavily influenced by a Virtual Safety Car and a Safety Car. Almost all the drivers made three stops, using all the available compounds. At the start, half the grid started on the softs and the other half on mediums, with the hards being used for the second or third stint.
For this round, Pirelli will provide the teams with the P Zero Yellow medium and P Zero Red soft compounds. The Hungaroring track is particularly twisty with only one long straight at the start-finish line, which makes it difficult to cool the tyres, also due to the usual high ambient and track temperatures. The 14 corners – eight right-handers and six left-handers – are mostly run at medium to low speeds, with the rear axle being particularly stressed. At 4.381 kilometres, the circuit is the second shortest of the season after Monaco, and traffic is often an important factor, both in terms of the competition and the effect it can have on tyre degradation. In terms of Feature Race strategy, the fastest tyre over the length of a stint on paper is the medium, but as it’s not easy to overtake at the Hungaroring, it can often be useful to start on the softs in order to take advantage of the extra grip and make up a few positions at the start.”
The Hungaroring will host the debut of the new P Zero Yellow medium compound, originally planned for Imola. This tyre – with an emphasis on oversteer – makes the car more challenging to drive during the stint, forcing the driver to manage rear degradation in particular. This weekend will be a particularly testing debut on a twisty and usually very warm track, which puts a strain on the tyres in terms of traction. It’s also a very short lap – only Monaco is shorter – so traffic management, especially in qualifying, will be crucial.
GT World Challenge Europe
Valentino Rossi took his first win in the GT World Challenge Europe, a championship supplied exclusively by Pirelli. The nine-time World Champion and team-mate Maxime Martin took first place in Race 2 at Misano at the wheel of a WRT BMW M4 GT3 fitted with Pirelli P Zero DHF tyres. Race 1 was won by Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy in an Akkodis ASP Mercedes AMG GT3.
Founded in 1872, Pirelli is a company with deep Italian roots now recognised all over the world for its cutting-edge technology, capacity for innovation, and the quality of its products. Motorsport has always played an important part in Pirelli’s strategy, following the ‘race to road’ philosophy. The company has been engaged in motorsport for 116 years and today supplies tyres to more than 350 championships on both two and four wheels. Pirelli pays constant attention to the most efficient use of natural resources and energy, aiming to reach carbon neutrality by 2030.
Pirelli has been Global Tyre Partner of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship since 2011. The company also supplies championships including FIA Formula 2, FIA Formula 3, Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine, FIA World Rally Championship and GT World Challenge, alongside numerous national series.