Hungaroring, July 26, 2014 – For the third time in a row and the sixth time this year, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has claimed pole position – which should help his prospects in the Hungarian Grand Prix, as 13 wins have been taken from pole at the Hungaroring from 28 races to date. Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel lines up alongside him in second.
Conditions were similar to how they were for free practice yesterday, with qualifying and therefore race strategy centring mainly around the performance gap between the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft compounds, which was around 1.6 seconds. Around half the drivers used the soft tyres to be sure of getting through to Q2 – and sticking to the medium tyres for Q1 carried a risk of early elimination.
The drivers all used the soft tyre in Q2, while Q3 was interrupted during a short rain shower. The red flag came out a couple of minutes into the session following an accident, which meant that none of the drivers were able to set a time before the stoppage. When the action resumed, the top 10 came back out on the soft tyres once more, as with 39 degrees of track temperature the circuit was drying quite quickly.
Many drivers completed three timed laps in Q3, benefitting from this year’s new rule that allows the drivers in Q3 an extra set of the softer compound for qualifying. The drivers outside of the top 10 correspondingly receive an extra set of the compound to be used in the race.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was fastest in FP3 this morning on the soft tyre, completing his clean sweep of the free practice sessions in Hungary. A fire in qualifying means that he is expected to start from the back, giving him the opportunity to use tyre strategy to try and make progress on a track where overtaking is notoriously difficult.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said: “The rain shower in Q3 showed how just a small burst of rain can really alter the situation, and with some doubt about the weather tomorrow, this is something that could affect the race as well. With the track progressively drying and become faster, the timing of the qualifying laps was crucial: especially as the clouds started to gather at the end of the session once more. We think most drivers will go for a two-stop strategy, although a three-stop could theoretically be quicker, depending on traffic.
The performance gap between the two compounds means that the soft is going to be the main race tyre, with low degradation, so the strategy is going to centre around making the most of this compound’s performance.”
The Pirelli strategy predictor:
For the 70-lap Hungarian Grand Prix, a three-stop strategy is theoretically fastest (maximising the time on the faster soft compound), although a two-stop strategy is more likely as overtaking at the Hungaroring is so tricky.
The fastest three-stop strategy is: start on the soft, change to the soft on lap 22, soft again on lap 44 and a final five-lap stint on the medium from lap 65.
The best two-stop strategy is: start on soft, change to soft again on lap 29, then medium from lap 54.
Fastest compounds in FP3:
Hamilton 1m24.048s Soft New
Rosberg 1m24.095s Soft New
Vettel 1m24.455s Soft New
Top 10 tyre use:
Rosberg 1m22.715s Soft New
Vettel 1m23.201s Soft New
Bottas 1m23.354s Soft New
Ricciardo 1m23.391s Soft Used
Alonso 1m23.909s Soft New
Massa 1m24.223s Soft New
Button 1m24.294s Soft Used
Vergne 1m24.720s Soft New
Hulkenberg 1m24.775s Soft Used
Magnussen No time set