Race starts at 3 pm in Hungary/9 pm in Malaysia
Round 11 of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship at Hungaroring in Budapest, Hungary, will be the last round in the first half of the championship. It is a familiar circuit to the teams as it has been part of the calendar since 1986, so there’s a lot of data to refer to from 35 races with different weather conditions.
After the high speeds and flat expanses of Silverstone, the twists and turns of Hungaroring present the drivers with a different challenge. Featuring flowing sections of closely linked corners, the tight 4.4-km layout provides a good test of car balance. With aerodynamic stability accented, the engineers will set downforce levels similar to those applied at Monaco.
In contrast to the sweeping and fast corners of Silverstone, Hungaroring feels almost like a kart circuit: the track is narrow, old-school, and has a non-stop series of corners. Overtaking is tricky, and this is an important factor when planning the race strategy, as track position is key.
Past races here have seen a number of different strategies. Last year, the wet and intermediate tyres were run at the start of the race because of rain but before then, in 2019, both one-stop and two-stop strategies were used, with a two-stopper from Lewis Hamilton winning the race in a thrilling finale.
There are tight corners in quick succession, with no long straights to cool down the tyres, and hot weather. This makes the Hungaroring actually more demanding on tyres than it initially seems, so some degree of management is likely to be needed on the soft compound in particular.
“As a result, the best strategy is not always obvious – with different approaches often yielding a similar overall race time, depending on the individual circumstances. That’s why we’ve often seen some tactically intriguing races at the Hungaroring, keeping the final result in doubt right up to the end and providing an interesting challenge for the engineers,” said Mario Isola, Pirelli’s Head of F1 and Car Racing.
The summer temperatures are also high, plus the fact that the circuit is situated within a natural amphitheatre, so there’s very little airflow. This makes the Hungarian Grand Prix hard work for both the cars and the drivers.
Pirelli’s Isola said that this week some of the hottest track temperatures ever, causing thermal degradation. “However, it’s far from certain that the weather will remain the same, with a forecast of rain at some point adding yet another unpredictable element to what is always a strategically complex race,” he said.
The controversial clash on the opening lap at Silverstone between championship leader Max Verstappen and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton saw the latter’s eventual victory. This closed the gap that had been widening between the two drivers and as they start this round, 8 points separate them. Lando Norris, also from Britain, lies in third but 64 points behind.
Besides damage to the racing car that was said to cost 1.5 million euros (about RM7.512 million) to repair, Red Bull Racing took home just 3 points after the last round, while Mercedes-AMG collected 43 points. This means that the defending champions cut the difference from 44 points before Round 10. to just 4 points before the start of this Sunday’s race.