2016 Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying
DAY OF CONTRASTS, WITH TRACK TEMPERATURES IN EXCESS OF 50
DEGREES IN FP3 TO TORRENTIAL RAIN IN QUALIFYING
DELAYED START TO QUALIFYING AND MULTIPLE RED FLAGS:
WET, INTERMEDIATE AND SLICK TYRES USED
IF CONDITIONS ARE DRY FOR THE RACE,
TWO PIT STOPS IS THE MOST LIKELY STRATEGY
Hungaroring, July 23, 2016 – A day of extreme contrasts in Hungary meant that conditions ranged from track temperatures of 51 degrees in FP3 – just one degree less than the hottest session recorded so far this year (52 degrees in Baku) – to torrential rain just before the start of qualifying.
As a result, qualifying was delayed for 20 minutes, and then a number of red flags delayed the session further, which began on Cinturato Blue full wet tyres. By the time Q1 resumed for the final time, more than an hour after it had been scheduled to start, nearly all the drivers went out on Cinturato intermediate tyres, with track temperatures climbing again.
From Q2 onwards, all the drivers used the intermediate tyre, but with the track drying so rapidly they all moved to the supersoft by the end of the session, which ran without interruptions. All the drivers used just one set of supersoft in Q2, with the exception of Williams driver Valtteri Bottas, who used two. According to the rules, this is the compound that the top 10 will start with tomorrow (assuming it’s a dry race).
Q3 was the only session to be run entirely on slick tyres, despite some patches of water remaining and very slippery kerbs, with Nico Rosberg’s pole time of 1m19.965s solidly beating the pole time from last year for Mercedes.
If conditions do indeed remain dry tomorrow, as is expected, two stops is likely to form the optimal race strategy, irrespective of whether or not drivers start on the soft or the supersoft tyre.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: “In a sport that’s thrown up some crazy situations in the past, this was one of the most mixed-up days that we’ve witnessed – but the end result was still a Mercedes one-two. The teams certainly got to try a wide range of our tyres today, and the mixed conditions means that they have a good allocation of unused slicks to choose from tomorrow, which will probably be a two-stop race.”
How the tyres behaved today:
Medium: Used minimally in practice but not in qualifying, unlikely to be seen in the race.
Soft: Not seen at all in qualifying but will figure prominently in the race strategy.
Supersoft: The teams switched straight to this tyre once the track dried up.
Intermediate: Used from Q2 onwards, despite the standing water.
Full wet: With the circuit waterlogged during Q1, the automatic choice for this session.
Possible race strategies and maximum laps*:
Pirelli recommends that the following numbers of laps are not exceeded on each compound:
Soft = 29 laps
Supersoft = 14 laps
On this basis, the optimal pit-stop strategies predicted by Pirelli are as follows:
Two-stopper: two stints on soft of 29 laps each + one 12-lap stint on supersoft
Three-stopper: three stints on supersoft of 14 laps each + one 28-lap stint on soft
Three-stopper: two stints on soft of 24 laps each + two 11-lap stints on supersoft
Different permutations of compound usage within each strategy are possible.
*This information is provided just as an indication for media, based on Pirelli data. It doesn’t form any type of guarantee for the teams, as each team is obviously responsible for choosing its own race strategy based on its own wear data.
Free practice 3 – top three times
Qualifying top 10
Most laps by compound so far
Best time by compound so far