Pirelli Report: Hungarian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton has taken his first win for Mercedes in Hungary, using a three-stop strategy in some of the hottest conditions seen all year, with ambient temperatures peaking at 35 degrees centigrade.
Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen was second with a two-stop strategy while Sebastian Vettel finished third for Red Bull to extend his championship lead over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso heading into the Formula One summer break.
All the drivers apart from Sergio Perez and Jenson Button (McLaren), Mark Webber (Red Bull), Adrian Sutil (Force India), Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) and the two Marussias started the grand prix on the P Zero Yellow soft tyre, nominated together with the P Zero White medium this weekend.
The first of the frontrunners to stop for new tyres was polesitter Hamilton on lap nine, switching to the medium compound and promoting Vettel into the lead, who pitted two laps later and re-joined behind Hamilton.
By lap 14, Webber – who had started on the medium tyres – was in the lead, pitting for the first time for more mediums on lap 23. Button, who also started on the medium tyres, went for a different strategy by using the soft tyres for his second stint. Webber was the only driver to use soft tyres for his final stint, exploiting the superior speed of the softer compound to finish fourth from 10th on the grid, while Button finished seventh from 13th on the grid.
Hamilton pitted from the lead once more on lap 31 and lap 50, maintaining his cushion over the following Red Bull drivers on each occasion by taking the initiative when it came to pit stops. His closest challenger at the end of the race was Raikkonen, who finished 10 seconds behind the Mercedes driver despite stopping for tyres only twice. The Finn and the two McLaren drivers were the only top 10 finishers to adopt a two-stop strategy.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “The extremely high temperatures meant that everything on the cars, including the tyres, was put through a tough test but nevertheless both compounds performed extremely well. We saw a wide variety of strategies, which relied on close racing and some brilliant overtaking maneuvers. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes used their tyres perfectly, in some of the hottest conditions of the year so far, to take a deserved win from pole position. A well-thought tyre strategy certainly contributed to his win when he gained track position at the beginning of the race and then pitted before his direct rivals, controlling the pace of the race. Congratulations also to Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus, who showed what is possible with a two-stop strategy and optimal tyre management.”
For a three-stopper we predicted: start on the soft tyre, change to the soft again on lap 13, change to medium on lap 26, and finally medium again on lap 48.
In the end, Lewis Hamilton’s strategy was different: start on the soft, change to the medium on lap nine, then medium again on lap 31 and lap 50.
However, the two-stop strategy we predicted worked perfectly for Raikkonen: we said start on the soft tyre, change to the medium on lap 14, change to the medium again on lap 42. Raikkonen did more or less exactly that, except his first stop was on lap 13 with his final stop on lap 42.