Friday, July 19, 2024

Pirelli’s Mario Isola: “Traction is one of the key factors for good performance” in Hungary

Mario Isola says the high temperatures expected during the Hungarian Grand Prix, both in the air and on the track, will put the drivers, cars and Pirelli’s tyres to the test.

The Hungaroring has a lot of slow corners – the circuit has the second slowest average lap time on the FIA Formula 1 World Championship calendar – and only one straight and one real overtaking spot, and as such puts a lot of pressure on the tyres.

Isola, the Motorsport Director at Pirelli Motorsport, expects the track conditions to improve as the weekend goes on in Hungary, but the track will provide a challenge to everyone as they seek to maximise their traction, which will be key to having a good weekend.

“The Hungarian Grand Prix has become a classic event of the Formula 1 summer season, and as such the air and asphalt temperatures, which are usually very high, are the main features,” said Isola.  “This puts the drivers, cars and tyres to the test, not least because the twisting nature of the track does not allow anyone or anything to catch their breath.

“There’s a fairly long pit straight, which provides the only real overtaking opportunity under braking into the first right-hand corner. Then there are 13 more corners – seven right-handers and six left-handers – on a circuit that is second only to Monte Carlo in terms of slowest average speed; to the extent that the cars use similar downforce settings to Monaco.

“With so many slow corners, traction is one of the key factors for good performance and the biggest risk is tyre overheating. Despite being a permanent track, the Hungaroring is not used very often and the asphalt conditions improve considerably during the weekend as the ideal racing line rubbers in.”

After the cancellation of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix earlier in the season, this weekend will see the first test of a new Qualifying format, with the hard compound being used in Q1, the medium compound in Q2 and the soft compound in Q3. There is also a reduction in the tyre allocation, with only eleven sets available to each driver instead of the usual thirteen.

Isola says this new format should open up strategy options for race day, and after its second run in the Italian Grand Prix after the summer break, a decision will be made to whether to adopt this full-time from next season.

“Usually, this race is all about strategy and tyre degradation,” he added.  “This year we have opted for a trio of softer compounds (C3, C4 and C5) compared to 2022, while a new tyre allocation for qualifying (known as ATA, or ‘Alternative Tyre Allocation’) will be tried out for the first time, with the obligation to use just the hard in Q1, medium in Q2 and soft in Q3 if conditions stay dry.

“Both these changes, at least on paper, should lead to a wider range of options, particularly in terms of strategy. The ATA also saves two sets of dry tyres compared to the traditional format (using 11 sets instead of 13) and it will be run again at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza.

“After that, the FIA, F1 and the teams will decide whether or not to adopt it for next season.”