2023 Hungarian Grand Prix: Qualifying Tyre Analysis – Lewis Hamilton took his ninth Hungarian Grand Prix pole position, the most poles of any driver at any one circuit. The last time he had been fastest in Q3 dates back to the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and today’s result brings his total number of pole positions to 104.
Saturday’s weather at the Hungaroring was very different to that experienced yesterday, with sunshine and typical summer temperatures- the air above 29° C, the track at 50 °C – with quite strong winds. In the third free practice session, the teams put in a lot of work, once again, with quite different programmes from each other. Some did very long stints on the Medium: Sainz and Leclerc doing 17 laps each on the same set in their Ferraris, others made little use of the Softs, with Hamilton running them for just three laps, while for Alfa Romeo, Zhou and Bottas ran all three compounds.
Qualifying saw the debut of the new format which required drivers to use only Hard tyres in Q1, Medium in Q2 and Soft in Q3. Of the ten drivers who made it to Q3, only Norris managed to save a set of new Mediums, more than likely the preferred choice for the start of tomorrow’s race. The others used all six available sets of new tyres. Ocon, Gasly, Ricciardo and Tsunoda managed to do three runs on the Hard in Q1, the AlphaTauri duo running used tyres for their first run.
This qualifying format meant that the performance gap between the three compounds was easier to identify precisely: seven tenths from C3 to C4 and half a second from C4 to C5.
Lewis Hamilton was presented with the Pirelli Pole Position Award by Zac, a kart racer and one of the youngsters who are reporting on the weekend for Sky Sports as part of its first ever F1 broadcast aimed at children. They will actually commentate on the race for Sky Sports UK and Sky Deutschland with the help of graphics, animation and straightforward technical information.
Mario Isola – Pirelli Motorsport Director
“I think this was a very interesting qualifying, with the new format posing various challenges for the drivers. It made for even closer times and more unpredictability than at previous events. That can be seen from the fact that seven teams are represented in the top ten and the fastest ten qualifiers are all within six tenths of each other. For example, the drivers had to adapt to the switch from one compound to another in the three phases of qualifying, something they are no longer used to, ever since the rule stating they had to start the race on the same set of tyres with which they made the cut out of Q2 was abolished. At the same time, considering that the Hard seems like the best choice of race tyre, many drivers opted not to use these sets in free practice and therefore found themselves somewhat in the dark in Q1, so that even the top teams had to do two runs.
“In FP3, the long runs showed that, with a track temperature of around 50 °C, which is what we can also expect for the race, the C5 does not seem to be the ideal choice for the race. At the same time, the higher temperatures compared to yesterday and the normal track evolution, always very significant at the Hungaroring, sees the balance swinging more in favour of the two harder compounds, the C3 and C4. Therefore, the most likely strategy is for two stops, starting on the C4 and running two further stints on the C3. A single stop (Hard-Medium) is possible but it’s very much on the limit, both in terms of performance drop-off and tread life. Add these factors to the way the grid order looks and it should be a spectacular race.”