Hamilton set the pace on the opening day at Hungaroring
The Englishman went fastest during both free practice sessions, using the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire in the morning and the P Zero Red supersoft tire in the afternoon. His fastest time of the day was set on the P Zero Red tire: 1m21.018s, two-tenths of a second quicker than the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and a similar cushion over his own fastest time in the morning.
The 4.381-kilometer circuit became steadily quicker over the course of the day as the track rubbered in, while temperatures also climbed to 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit ambient after a cloudy start to the day.
The teams used the two sessions to assess the main differences between the soft and the supersoft tire with different fuel loads. The supersoft turned out to be just under a second quicker than the soft tire under equal circumstances, underlining the fact that the two compounds are quite evenly matched on this tight and twisty circuit. In order to have a valid comparison in similar conditions, some of the frontrunners swapped between the soft and supersoft tires towards the end of the second session. They were particularly looking at the degradation of the rear tires, which are put under heavy load due to the traction needed out of the numerous slow corners that characterise the Hungaroring.
The information that the teams gained will help them to formulate their qualifying strategies tomorrow, with drivers considering whether or not it will be best to start the race on the softer or the harder tire, depending on when they plan to make their pit stops and how hot the weather will be. The forecast tomorrow is for dry weather, with temperatures becoming hotter over the weekend.
Pirelli’s Motorsport Director Paul Hembery commented: “It’s been an interesting day of free practice, where as we expected, we’ve seen that there is about eight-tenths of a second of difference between the soft and the supersoft tire: a combination that we also used in Monaco and Canada. Nonetheless, the supersoft clearly does have a small advantage, which will mean that those aiming for pole position are going to use it. Depending on the track and weather conditions, I think we’ll see about 15 laps out of the supersoft tires during the race and around 25 laps from the soft tires: we saw them being used for 24 laps today. There are a wide variety of cars looking very competitive, which is going to make the order in qualifying hard to predict. But after analyzing our tire data tonight, we should have a better idea of where everybody is at.”