We are now, finally, in the second half of the season with just three races – including this one – to run in Europe. We’ve just had a three week gap since Silverstone in which quite a lot has happened: there has been a Sports Conference week in Mexico City in which the future of Formula One has been discussed – again – and of course, the very sad demise of Jules Bianchi which will no doubt be commemorated here in Hungary.
We go from the wide open spaces of Silverstone to the cramped environs of the Hungaroring which celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend. Hard to believe that we’ve been coming here for thirty years and how much has changed and yet how little has changed over the years. Budapest, for instance, is basically the same – you certainly couldn’t say that about Monaco over thirty years – but aspects of the circuit have undoubtedly changed, of course, for the better.
It has frequently been called a street circuit in the country and it has seven left and seven right hand corners. It is the shortest circuit after Monaco, and a spectator gets to see the cars 70 times around the Hungaroring – only 46 times, I think, around Spa. People say how difficult it is to overtake at the Hungaroring and yet last year there were 27 normal overtaking manoeuvres and 13 DRS passings – there are two DRS zones here.
It also promotes a multiple pit stop race; although the track was damp at the start of last year’s race and cars started on intermediates, the winning driver, Daniel Ricciardo, stopped three times and Fernando Alonso is second place stopped twice. Hamilton in third used medium compound as well as the softs used by most others.
So the strategies could be interesting while there is another little factor that seems to have worked its way into the mix: the heat. When I arrived here yesterday afternoon, the ambient temperature was 38 degrees and that is expected to continue throughout the weekend. The track temperature is already up to 34 degrees at 8.45 in the morning and that track temperature is going to have an interesting effect on the soft and medium Pirellis being used this weekend.
The other pointer is cars that may have performed well at Silverstone may not be as competitive here in Hungary. This is a very different circuit; you look at the final twisty sector of Barcelona for instance, and Monaco. Cars that were competitive there will be the same here in Hungary.
It is going to be a tough weekend, with Jules Bianchi in everyone’s thoughts, but hopefully we can all move on in a positive way. People are already looking forward to next year’s 21-race calendar – that’s another talking point – and even the upcoming break. (I’m amused to read that Max Verstappen is not looking forward to it: too long out of a racing car!)
Hopefully we shall have a good Grand Prix this weekend; I think there could well be a large crowd in the sunshine. It’s usually a good and enjoyable weekend and certainly a warm one; that’s guaranteed. We have the usual mix of GP2, GP3 and Porsche supporting races which will keep everyone entertained so it’s looking good.
By Bob Constanduros