Pirelli, along with the rest of the teams, makes the 800-kilometer journey from Hockenheim to Budapest for the only back-to-back European grand prix weekend of the season.
The Hungaroring, the first Formula One venue ever to be built behind the former Iron Curtain back in 1986, is a permanent facility but has many of the characteristics of a street circuit, with tight and twisty corners and a low grip surface that puts the emphasis on mechanical grip. In the past, the race has often been very hot, but rain is not unknown either. Pirelli is bringing the P Zero White medium along with the P Zero yellow soft tires, which should provide the right compromise between performance and resistance to the high ambient temperatures. Although the Hungaroring is not particularly demanding on tires, the non-stop series of corners mean that the compounds do not get much of an opportunity to cool down over the course of a lap.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “Hungary is well-known for being a tricky layout, where it’s difficult to overtake and to find a perfect set-up for the whole lap. This means that strategy is especially important, as it offers a rare opportunity to gain track position. The weather is normally a talking point in Hungary, but having seen how our tires performed in the very hot track temperatures of Hockenheim, we’re confident that this shouldn’t be a problem. The tires we are bringing to Hungary are a step harder, to deal with the increased demands, so we would expect the usual two pit stops – although we will only have a better idea of this once we get to free practice on Friday.”
The Hungaroring is a circuit that is quite well balanced between traction and braking, and lateral energy. The cars run maximum downforce in order to make the most of the mechanical grip through the slow corners.
The medium tire is a low working range compound, capable of achieving optimal performance even at a wide range of low temperatures. The soft tire by contrast is a high working range compound, suitable for higher temperatures. Track temperatures at the Hungaroring are often among the hottest of the year.
The tires are often subjected to a combination of forces at the Hungaroring. The aerodynamic downforce means that there is a vertical force pushing down onto the tires, while at the same time there is a lateral force going through the tires as they negotiate the corners, as well as longitudinal forces from acceleration and braking. All this increases the stress on the structure.
The winning strategy in 2013 was three stops, as Lewis Hamilton took his first win for Mercedes using the medium and the soft tires. Kimi Raikkonen finished second for Lotus after stopping only twice.