Grand Prix 2011 Hungarian Grand Prix Practice, Qualifying & Race Discussion

Who was saying 2011 was boring?

It's amazing how a few non Red Bull dominated races can change the complexion of F1 and suddenly it's exciting again. However before we get too carried away, Vettel still holds a massive points lead and despite a poor (by his standards) race in Germany, he is still hot favourite as the F1 circus rolls into Hungary.

Hungary isn't known for it's exciting races (apart from 2006 possibly thanks to the weather) due to the dust bowl and lack of overtaking oppurtunities, but if 2011 is anything to go by, the phrase 'no overtaking' has been thrown out of the dictionary.

Despite recent set backs Red Bull will be favourites to bounce back at a circuit which suits them to a tee with weather conditions that will be beneficial to Vettel who struggled with grip at the chilly Nurburgring. However Ferrari and Mclaren have shown that they won't just stand still and let Red Bull walk to the championship with Hamilton and Alonso winning in the last 2 grand prix.

Indeed Mclaren seemed to be in trouble going into the German GP as they were off the pace of the Red Bulls and Ferraris, but in Hamiltons hands the car made a miracle recovery to not only take a front row position ahead of Vettel, but take the teams third win of the season after very stiff competition from Alonso and Webber. Is this the start of the established teams fightback?

Even beleagured Ferrari driver Massa has showed improved form recently with two 5th placed positions in the last 2 races but they could have easily been 2 fourth places had it not been for a strong defensive rearguard from Hamilton in Silverstone and a pit stop mess up in Germany which enabled Vettel to get past on the last lap. As Ferrari plan to take the fight to Red Bull, they will need Massa to take points off Vettel and Webber if Alonso is to have any chance of a miracle fightback.

Mercedes are in a league of their own at the moment, but not in a good way. They are faster than the likes of Renault and Force India, but slower than Ferrari, Red Bull and Mclaren and the 7th/8th place almost has a Mercedes name penned in if there aren't any incidents, (which knowing Schumacher is rare)

Renault have dropped off badly after a strong start to the season and after a crash from Heidfeld and a poor race from Petrov, they now find themselves picking up the scraps in the midfield for 5th place in the championship as Mercedes start to pull away from the black and gold outfit, maybe a tweak of the exhaust might bring them better fortunes in Hungary.

One person who drove a great race in Germany but hardly got any recognition was Adrian Sutil who drove probably the best race of the German drivers. 6th place after a strong qualifying will no doubt relieve the pressure that had been building on him and will show to Di Resta that he won't have things his own way at Force India and that Hulkenberg might have to wait a while for a race seat.

No doubt that there won't be any uncertainties about the weather this weekend as more often than not Hungary provides a race weekend with 30 degree sunshine with not a cloud to be seen, apart from the 2006 race which was notable for Jenson Buttons first win in the Honda.

For Galahads superb circuit write up see here
I love these back to back races as it barely gives you time to think or even reflect on the previous race.

The downside is of course it's 4 weeks after this race to the Belgian GP :o

Should be interesting to see how the top 3 teams are relative to each other once we get back to a warmer race.
I'm afraid Red Bull will demolish the field at Hungary. They seem to excel in medium speed corners, even more than they do in high speed corners. If you look at their performance in sector 2 in the German GP, which is full of medium stuff, they were far superior, especially in qualifying.

Hamilton was 4 tenths off Webber in sector 2 in qualifying and so you feel over a full lap at Hungary, which is made up of three sectors just like that, the McLaren should effectively be about a second away from pole. It might sound crazy but just look at what happened last year with Alonso matching Vettel in Hockenheim and then being over a second behind in qualifying at Hungary.

McLaren could be closer in the race, but I think Red Bull's main challengers will be Ferrari. Hungary will be warmer and have the super-soft tyre, both of which will suit them. Also Ferrari seem to not be too far behind Red Bull in medium and high speed corners now. Looking at current forecasts, I dont think temperatures will be high enough to cause any of the teams (e.g. McLaren) issues.

The one telling thing will be whether cars can overtake. Last year Alonso kept Vettel behind him for a significant number of laps, even though Vettel was significantly quicker. With the Pirelli tyres, DRS and KERS, it might be possible to overtake, but we could still see Vettel being held up for a whole race yet again, the others have less to lose than him.
Flashing back to 2010 was the scene of a massive body blow dealt by RB to the contenders to be, Webber driving off on said faded/worn tyres and Seb having to deal with a drive through and still easily finishing second. Will it be normal service resumed?

While it is easy to tend to move towards McLaren or Ferrari this coming weekend, the smart money is still on RBR to have a strong performance on a brake and tyre hard race track. I do enjoy the downhill/uphill of Hungary which is a very catchy race track.

1] Vettel
2] Alonso
3] Hamilton
4] Webber
Historically Williams do well in Hungary. What chance a few points for the boys from Didcot?
Wow - just got my head around Lewis Hamilton winning the German GP and this one come's so quickly.

Agree with Brogan - only downside is we have to wait 4 weeks til SPA for the next race after this one. But surely the drivers need to put their feet up and take it easy after a hard fought first half of the season.

Gotta bad feeling that we'll see Red Bull back on song in this GP, reckon the temperatures and the way the track is set out will suit the Red Bull car alot more than the Mclaren and Ferrari. Fingers-crossed it doesn't though!

Reckon we'll see our first big corner 1 pile-up of the year so far! As it's a very short run down to turn one and it's a tight corner that one.
Well the talk in the Ferrari camp is they are feeling bullish about this weekends chances, it remains to be seen whether it is puffing or genuine. The car looks better so I hope for another Ferrari revival, interesting that Alonso has; 2nd, DNF, 2nd, 1st and 2nd in the last 5 Races, which is where all the talk is coming from, he really feels the car is much better to drive now.
One thing you have to remember is at Hungary last year Red Bull were the only team to be using off-throttle engine mapping and McLaren hadn't even got to grips with their blown diffuser. This would have been largely what generated Red Bull's huge advantage in qualifying and also in the race. This year, McLaren and Ferrari should be closer because they are also using blown diffusers and off-throttle engine maps, however, I feel Red Bull will get an advantage in qualifying through the DRS that they will be able to deploy in corners where others cannot.
Well Spain was supposed to be a Red Bull banker but Hamilton was more than a match for Vettel in that race.
Saw this on the BBC F1 site from Martin Brundle's twitter account:

Arrived Budapest, pouring with rain. Looks set to stay that way until mid week. GP forecast not as warm as normal.

So even if it's not raining maybe it might be cool, which should suit McLaren if Germany is anything to go by.

I hope Ferrari and McLaren can continue to be competitive with Red Bull, but I'm slightly concerned that the last two races may not be representative because of the Off-throttle farce at Silverstone and the McLaren yo-yo effect.
No doubt that there won't be any uncertainties about the weather this weekend as more often than not Hungary provides a race weekend with 30 degree sunshine with not a cloud to be seen

Fantastic prediction there...........
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