2016 Hungarian Grand Prix Practice Review

hungaroring-formula-1-race-track-hungary

Lewis Hamilton wins the British Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen in second place and Nico Rosberg in third place. Ferrari, Force India and McLaren brought home some much needed points for their teams.

The Hungaroring circuit is regarded as very challenging and tough for the drivers, but also as one of the safest race tracks in Formula 1. The circuit benefits track position, pit strategy, and high downforce.

Overtaking is difficult unless the driver in front makes a mistake, so qualifying is really important and you need to start from as high up the grid as possible. Cooling is often a problem at Hungary because of the lack of straights and it is usually pretty hot in Hungary at this time of the year. The constant cornering places a demand on the tyres, as this generates high temperatures, and this combined with high track temperature have the potential to lead to issues with blistering.

Some drivers on the grid think that Hungaroring is similar in style to the Circuit de Monaco, due to its tight and twisty corners. Lewis Hamilton once said in an interview that “The Hungaroring is one of the most demanding circuits for drivers because you’re busy throughout the entire lap.”. Engines are only run at full throttle for around 55 percent of the lap, the second lowest percentage of the season after Monaco. The average lap speed is about 200 km/h, with top speed close to 300 km/h. The Hungarian race is one of the highest downforce races on the calendar.

The circuit is located just outside the city of Budapest. Due to its unique position in a small valley; about 80 percent of the 4.38 kilometer long race track can be seen from any part of the grandstands.

As a curiosity can be mentioned that the 1986 Hungarian Grand Prix, won by Nelson Piquet for Williams, was the first Formula One Grand Prix to take place behind the Iron Curtain. The race was attended by 200,000 people from both Eastern and Western Europe. Since 1986, Hungary has been on the Formula 1 calendar every year and the organizers have contract until 2016.

Just before FP1 began, it was announced that Nico Rosberg has resigned for the Mercedes team until the 2018 season. To read more about this, please read my article here:-

Practices 1, 2 and 3

The main headline from the Practice sessions is that Mercedes and Ferrari look to have the driver-car package to beat this weekend as weather conditions and tyre management which will test the drivers, teams and the cars throughout Friday and Saturday practice sessions.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1.

Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheets in FP1.

Practice 1 saw Lewis Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.21.347 followed closely by Nico Rosberg with a gap of 0.237 seconds behind, Sebastian Vettel was in third with a gap of 1.644 seconds behind, Kimi Raikkonen in fourth with a gap of 1.735 seconds behind and Daniel Ricciardo in fifth with a gap of 1.827 seconds behind Hamilton.

Max Verstappen is sixth with a gap of 2.110 seconds behind, Fernando Alonso is seventh with a gap of 2.588 seconds behind, Jenson Button is eighth with a gap of 2.614 seconds behind, Romain Grosjean is ninth with a gap of 2.666 seconds behind and Sergio Perez is tenth with a gap of 2.726 seconds behind Hamilton.

During FP1, McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso was clearly pushing hard at times and spun in the final corner midway through the session as well as running wide twice at Turn 4 as he attempted to lower his lap time. He was not alone in exploring the run offs, with Vettel also spinning and Charles Leclerc, driving for Haas during FP1 in place of Esteban Gutierrez, finding the small gravel trap at the Turns 6 and 7 chicane.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP2 and 3.

Nico Rosberg tops the timesheets in FP2 and 3.

Practice 2 saw Rosberg tops the timesheet with a time of 1.20.435 followed closely by Ricciardo with a gap of 0.595 seconds behind,  Vettel was in third with a gap of 0.913 seconds behind, Verstappen in fourth with a gap of 1.335 seconds behind and Hamilton in fifth with a gap of 1.525 seconds behind Rosberg.

Raikkonen is sixth with a gap of 1.623 seconds behind,  Alonso is seventh with a gap of 1.893 seconds behind,  Button is eighth with a gap of 1.952 seconds behind, Hulkenberg is ninth with a gap of 2.014 seconds behind and Perez is tenth with a gap of 2.218 seconds behind Rosberg.

During FP2, Lewis Hamilton was on his fourth lap of the afternoon when he lost control of his car approaching Turn 11 which sent him into a high-speed slide across the expansive run-off area before slamming into a tyre wall left-side on.

Hamilton eventually managed to extricate himself and slowly trundled back to the garage, with Mercedes confirming his session was over as the car needed to be stripped and checked for internal damage. With the safety data recorder being triggered given the force of the impact, Hamilton was also required to attend the track medical centre for a check up, but was given the all clear.

Although Hamilton was top of the timesheet at that point 20 minutes into the session, which was red-flagged for repairs to the barrier

Also, the McLaren-Honda team changed Alonso’s power unit in between sessions after discovering what Honda claimed was “an anomaly in Fernando’s data during FP1”.

It resulted in the entire system being swapped, but with no new components introduced given the replacement contained the most recent updates on the ERS and internal combustion engine, and was used in four previous races.

Williams driver Valtteri Bottas is also under investigation for failing to keep to the right of the pitlane-entry bollard at one point, with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr also being looked at for crossing the line at the pit entry.

But with many drivers exceeded the track limits at Turn 4 (one of the two corners at this circuit where electronic kerb monitoring systems have been placed ) and will need to be mindful of such an infraction during qualifying and the race.

Practice 3 saw Rosberg tops the timesheet with a time of 1.20.261 followed closely by Verstappen with a gap of 0.002 seconds behind,  Ricciardo was in third with a gap of 0.465 seconds behind, Hamilton in fourth with a gap of 0.508 seconds behind and Raikkonen in fifth with a gap of 0.598 seconds behind Rosberg.

Vettel is sixth with a gap of 0.924 seconds behind,  Alonso is seventh with a gap of 1.323 seconds behind,  Bottas is eighth with a gap of 1.388 seconds behind, Perez is ninth with a gap of 1.411 seconds behind and Palmer is tenth with a gap of 1.674 seconds behind Rosberg.

You would be stupid not to bet against the Mercedes drivers of Hamilton and Rosberg to gain pole position again this weekend. As the Mercedes drivers seem to be performing brilliantly at the moment and the momentum is with them from all the track mileage and their strong form from the last race. Vettel, Raikkonen, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Perez, Hulkenberg or Sainz Jr also cannot be discounted for the pole also as they are consistently within the top ten places at the moment.

However, I think that Toro Rosso, McLaren and Force India have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here to be in the hunt for some decent points this weekend. We all look forward to the qualifying session of the Grand Prix with excitement…

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