Vettel on pole but Hamilton has tyre advantage

2011 Hungarian GP pre-race analysis

Posted on

| Written by

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2011

Pole position at the Hungaroring has long been regarded as vital on a track where overtaking is difficult.

That’s good news for Sebastian Vettel, who starts from pole position at a track where he’s never won before.

But Lewis Hamilton’s qualifying tactics will aid his pursuit of Vettel on race day.

The start

The clean side of the grid has a strong effect here. Fernando Alonso’s immediate reaction to being bumped from fourth to fifth by his team mate in qualifying was that he might be better off starting fifth anyway.

Starting on the left-hand side of the grid, on the racing line, gives an advantage for the first phase of the start. But they have to make it count at the first corner, a tight right-handed hairpin.

Leave the inside unprotected and they might easily lose a place, as Hamilton did to Vitaly Petrov at the start of last year’s race.

But a savvy driver can exploit the outside line as well, which is something Hamilton also knows from experience – that’s how Felipe Massa took the lead from him at the start of the 2008 race.

The advantage of the clean side has often allowed drivers starting in odd-numbered positions to get past cars one place ahead of them.

Fernando Alonso did it to Mark Webber last year from third on the grid. Webber did likewise to Vettel the year before. Will Jenson Button repeat the move on his team mate this year?

But the McLaren drivers must fancy their chances of beating Vettel to turn one, as they did when they lined up behind him in China.

It’s a long, 440m gallop to the first corner at the Hungaroring, and Vettel may find himself over-stretched in having to fend off two silver cars.


Vettel’s first priority is to keep his lead and use his typically scorching first-lap pace to pull out enough of a gap over the McLarens that they can’t use their DRS from lap three.

But Hamilton has an ace in hand thanks to his sterling efforts in Q2, when he bagged a place in the final ten using only the soft tyres.

Hamilton has a fresh set of super-soft tyres, something none of the other drivers in the top six enjoy. He played down his advantage in the post-qualifying press conference, saying “it’s always a plus but it’s not huge. It might be one or two laps longer.”

The McLarens and Red Bulls looked closely matched on race stint performance on the super-soft tyres on Friday. But Ferrari seemed to lose a lot more time on the red-lettered rubber.

With track conditions changing all the time, we could see a very different pattern in the race. Friday was relatively cool, today has been warmer, but race day is expected to be cloudy and cooler – nothing like as cold as the Nurburgring, but still not what Ferrari would prefer.

Hamilton ran a 13-lap stint on super-softs on Friday with little drop-off. Pirelli expect the tyre will go 15 laps on race day and the softs will do 25. That suggests the front runners will do three stints on super-softs followed by one on softs.

The top nine will all start on super-softs which they qualified on. Nico Rosberg, seventh, is another driver with a spare set of new super-softs.

Sergio Perez is the highest driver on the grid with a free choice of tyre, having not set a time in Q3. Sauber have tried some adventurous strategies in races this year and the C30 is very kind on its tyres, so keep an eye on him a a likely candidate for an alternative approach to the race.


Hungaroring DRS zone, 2011

The Hungaroring has long been regarded as a circuit where overtaking is very difficult. Will that be different with DRS, KERS and more rapidly-wearing tyres?

The single DRS zone for the race is on the start/finish straight. It begins while drivers are still coming out of the final corner, as it did in Melbourne.

With teams running in high downforce trim at the circuit it should have a powerful effect, but the straight itself is not very long.

Even so, with drivers also running the softest tyre compounds available the prospects for on-track passes at the Hungaroring better than they have been for a long time.

Who do you think will win in Hungary? What do you expect from the race? Have your say in the comments.

2011 Hungarian Grand Prix

    Browse all 2011 Hungarian Grand Prix articles

    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

    Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

    107 comments on “Vettel on pole but Hamilton has tyre advantage”

    1. In the GP2 today, the people who started 1st, 3rd and 5th were the top three by turn 1.
      With that knowledge, it seems that the start, yet again, will be crucial. It seems that, although Hamilton has the tyre advantage, Vettel has the advantage at the start.

      ‘But the McLaren drivers must fancy their chances of beating Vettel to turn one, as they did when they lined up behind him in China.

      It’s a long, 440m gallop to the first corner at the Hungaroring, and Vettel may find himself over-stretched in having to fend off two silver cars.’

      Yes, but at China, the ‘dirty side’ wasn’t as dirty as Hungary.

      1. Remember in 2008 Massa took the lead from the dirty side. There are more chances Button will pass Hamilton than Hamilton will pass Vettel, but if one has a great start the side of the grid doesn’t matter, he will jump ahead anyway.

        1. Massa was 3rd on the grid in 2008, not 2nd.

          I still think his starts are potentially good enough to hold 4th though.

      2. Good information. Now dirty side drivers need their best start of the season…

        1. ed24f1, true and sad.

          Probably what will happen…

          Vettel off Button 2nd Hamilton 3rd then Alonso/Webber/Massa 4/5/6 between them.

          Vettel will wizz off into the distance, Button will not have the pace and will hold everyone up almost guaranteeing Vettel an easy pole -> flag victory. Hamilton will later get past during pit stops and take 2nd. Button will finsih 3rd and say a Podium was good enough for his 200th since he couldn’t get the top spot.

          Unfortunately I’m thinking htat is the case.

          I’d prefer.

          ANYONE ahead of Vettel. Or if Vettel gets ahead, atleast have Hamilton or Alonso on his back chasing him down. Hamilton has the pace and Alonso is soft on the tires and has pace. If Buttong ets between Vettel and everyone else then McLaren need to tell him to shove and let Hamilton go through before the gap is built out to 5+ seconds.

          1. except its damp conditions, so Button may have a shot

            1. That and Button sucks off the line, so I’m doubting he’ll get ahead of Hamilton anyway!

          2. Ha, I bet you feel stupid after seeing the actual results.

            I don’t recall seeing JB holding people up and making for a Vettel dominant win…

    2. The start will be key. Can’t see Vettel winning if he gets bogged down behind Hamilton or Button, but it won’t be over for either if he gets away, they might claw back the time and get through via the undercut. If Hamilton gets stuck behind Button but not Vettel, surely McLaren will have to ask Jenson to let his team-mate through to attack?

      1. Exactly what I am thinking…If Lewis is second in the first corner, he should be able to catch up no problem….But F1 is about many IF’S :)

        1. Hey, what country are you from, …Suka?
          I’m Polish and I’m appalled by your nickname! :)

          1. I am Bosnian-Canadian. Suka is my childood nickname :)

            1. Oh my, oh my…
              [Please do not check what it means in Polish.]

            2. i think it means the same in bosnian as polish? ive heard croatians use it

            3. Haha, brilliant!

            4. Now am curious. Someone please tell me.

            5. if its the same as in russian, then its an unfortunate coincidence that its ur nickname lol

            6. Suka in my language means like :)

              Guess where I’m from :D

            7. Indonesia or Malaysia….maybe even Brunei, SIngapore or Thailand…

            8. Suka in my native language have 2 meanings defend on pronunciation. the 1st one means vinegar the other one is vomit.

            9. i know russian very well and i know wat suka means in russian and polish

            10. HS, yeap I’m Malaysian :)

          2. Hey Damon, I’m guessing you won’t be eating here: Suka in London

            But that’s languages for ya. As an Englishman if you go to Germany you can’t help but be impressed by the amount of flatulence needed to get from A to B.

    3. i think Massa will win this race aided with some luck.

      1. Can’t say I do, but I’d love it to be the case!

    4. Perhaps Mclaren should get someone go over the dirty side with a mob and bucket and clean place…

      1. They sometimes broom it.
        But what they can’t change is that lack of rubber on that side of the track, and that’s what makes the difference.

        1. The could clean the other side too. Lol! Secret mission in the middle of the night to clean all the rubber from Vettel’s side.

      2. Lol Nik

      3. Perhaps Mclaren should get someone go over the dirty side with a mob and bucket and clean place…

        Good thinking, but the rules don’t allow it!

        1. Does the grid get swept by track officials before the race?

        2. But it looks like the rain this morning might have done that for them instead now :-D

          Might be a killer race then, with a green or even dampt track, I hope no rain. Or have it coming down in buckets and see a 2006 like drama!

      4. If someone accidentally knocks over a can of Coca-Cola as they wait for the car to arrive, who’s to know ;) NASCAR pitbox style.

        It is a bit much that with all the data available, F1 still insists on systematically penalising half the drivers off the start. Punishing someone for driving faster and qualifying ahead of a rival.

        On tracks with notoriously dirty off-line starting spots, the grid spacing could readily be adjusted, moving even numbered spots slightly forward to mitigate any measurable loss of traction.

        Drag a friction measuring device down both sides of the grid, not much more than a heavy lump of Pirelli rubber and a spring scale, and move the dirty spots forward a metre or two in relation to the clean side that they are racing against.

        In very extreme cases you might even see the dirty side cars line up right beside the clean side, bit that’s OK, the point is to equalise and make fair, not see half the grid regularly and unfairly mugged off the line, helpless and through no fault of their own.

        1. And then it rains and those that are on the “dirty” side are all relatively advantaged. I can see it have some use in places like Abu Dhabi and Bahrain where it really doesn’t rain in the race weekend (but sand storm …), but not so much in the European races.

          1. You don’t make good law by basing on the exception.

            Really? You’d rather continue to see dozens of demonstrably and measurably unfair starts every fortnight, as opposed to an alternate scheme with only a chance of very occasional unfair starts. (If it rains hard enough that morning, Charlie’ll probably be starting behind the SC anyway).

            But if it is a deal breaker, it’s not even that complicated a problem to solve: you paint the white grid lines further forward for dry starts, and have thinner yellow lines painted further back for rain-washed, no dirty-side starts.
            Depending on how large the track-dependent calculated offset, someone might need to buy a dozen extra false-start sensors, and of course, the extra pot of paint … FOM can use some of the extra Sky money to cover it.

            1. I agree that it might be an option, but I also think that it isn’t a big enough issue at all tracks to make a complicated set of rules about it.

              So if it starts raining minutes before the start, half the grip pushes their cars back by a few meters? It will be fun to watch, but I doubt we’ll want to see it. The changes of rain aren’t so slim at all tracks (Malaysia, for example).

            2. Technically speaking, if it starts raining a few minutes before the start, it probably won’t be enough to remove the rubber from the racing line side of the track, and the cars will be on their formation lap at the time.

              If Race Control determines that this last minute downpour is significant, they use the existing communication protocols to inform all the teams, drivers and TV viewers of a “change in start line conditions”, and teams instructed to use the rain lines.

          2. How about removing the painted slots entirely, and using chalk to add them in an hour before the start based on the friction at the time. Hardly advanced enough for f1 but it might do the trick ;)

    5. but race day is expected to be cloudy and cooler – nothing like as cold as the Nurburgring, but still not what Ferrari would prefer.

      Alonso came second in Nurburg, so it can’t be bad for them in Hungary.

      With so many pitstops as we are having this season, I think the ability to overtake (after you had been in the pits and come back onto the track behind slower cars) may turn out to be crucial.
      In this respect Hamilton has the edge on everybody else, most importantly on Vettel, who better pull off by a huge margin in his first stint.

      1. because hamilton has a car that is better suited to overtaking then any other car on the grid – mercedes power, mclaren aerodynamics, best kers on grid, and drs – which has the best effect on cars with strong engines – unlike redbulls cars.

        1. the strength of DRS is not dependant on engine power, but on the design of the DRS, redbull have one of the best DRS designs, and mclaren have one of the least efficient.

          1. that and you can only use drs at one point on your out lap

          2. They,RB seem to have more problems with KERS than Macca or Ferrari…. how is that efficient?

            1. Apoligies… I misread your post.

        2. lol so Lewis overtaking is all because of his car huh? Button must be driving a Virgin disguised as a McLaren then..

      2. I agree, and it is where Alonso and Hamilton, and Webber and Button if they have a good weekend, really show Vettel off.

        Despite Horners defence yesterday on BBC, Vettel does seem to need fresher tyres and himself to be in the lead or fighting to keep that lead to effectively overtake.

    6. Late night work is error prone…maybe RBR mechanics forgot to tighten some loose bolts…Now that is a nice scenario :) hopefully nothing hazard, though.

      1. Ah ah ah I hope you are right Suka

        1. I would love to know what exactly they did to vettel’s car. smells fishy to me

          1. They put on 2012 specs parts I suspect…something major just to keep cool Vettel’s shaky psyche. Maybe, they took the whole KERS system out since it does not help too much around Hungaroring and it takes about 2 laps to fully recharge.

          2. i think they would have just dismantled everything and tested individual parts to make sure everything is 100%, that couple with a totally thorough review of the setup of the car helped him improve.

            1. Whatever they did to Vettel’s car, why didn’t they do it to Webber’s?

            2. Marko instructed the mechanics to ehance Vettel’s car only. Haven’t you seen the facial reaction of Helmut when the finger boy took the pole? :) But sad when Mark was in pole position last race.

          3. You guys are too damn paranoid.

      2. I was regrettably thinking the same thing Soka (whatever that means) a flex wing maybe or something border line legal. But only on SV car not MW.

      3. Not with these guys…

      4. Indeed…hold that thought every time you get on an airplane :P

    7. I really hope Vettel keeps both Mclarens behind.

      I don’t want him to win at all but if Lewis gets past Vettel at the start, it’s game over.

      If Vettel keeps Lewis behind, we could see a great race tomorrow!

      1. Id rather everyone and the kitchen sink passes Vettel, for the sake of making the WDC tighter and more exciting. Races have been plenty exciting when everyones followed Vettel around, its no different is someone else is leading (like last week for example)

        1. What do you think about the fight in the first corner? Will come up Jenson on Lewis, Lewis will keep second, or Lewis will beat Vettel? You said that even if he is on the dirty side, Lewis has the inside of the corner.

          1. I think it’l be tight, Vettel is human and can make mistakes as everyone can and make a bad start. Lewis is braver then Vettel when it comes to gaps and i wonder if both got to the corner together, which of the will backdown.

            Ofcourse, theres Alonso, Massa, Button and Webber all wanting a slice of the pie and it could end in tears for any of them.

            1. hamilton has not been very good at the first turn in hungary previously – in 2008, massa went around the outside of him from 3rd spot to first, and last year petrov went up the inside of him when hamilton left a big gap.

              Hamilton wont outbreak vettel in turn 1 on lap 1, he will get past vettel like he did webber last race, halfway down the straight because of mclarens engine, kers and drs. probably after a few laps when drs is enabled, as he has the faster car, and will be within the 1 second drs zone easy. hard to see him doing it on lap 1 unless vettel fluffs the start. there could be a crash at turn 1 tomorrow between some of the big name drivers.

            2. I haven’t counted HAM in the top 5 in my predictions. I think he’ll be the one who go out tomorrow at turn 1. Vettel will somehow manage to continue and BUT will inherit 1st place for a while… that is until Kobayashi overtakes him and the rest of the field to end turn 1 on P1 ! Haha

        2. As much as I’d like to believe the WDC is still alive, I still think it would have to take Vettel driving the wrong way round the track for several races to stand a chance of someone else stealing it. Red Bull dont have to win every race from here to grab it.

      2. If both Hamilton and Button get past Vettel, it is far from over for the win – and I’m sure Alonso will find a way to join that battle, likely together with Vettel.

    8. Alonso leading into turn 1… I hate Alonso, but his starts have been mega this year!

      1. More likely to see him battling with Lewis into the corner, behind Button and Vettels scrap.

      2. I would have agreed if he’s third on the grid. but 5th is just too far…

        1. That might depend on Massa…

          1. Well, if he wipe out all of front runner? :P

    9. I gotta ask, does anyone know if RedBull has stopped development of ther 2011 car? and shifted focus to 2012? I can’t seem to find any news about heavy updates to the red bulls, but I find a lot about Ferrari and McLaren, which would indeed make sense since they are catching up quite fast.

      1. Id say that all the work in the garage last night from Vettels crew would suggest they are developing bits, but maybe they didnt work.

    10. does anyone think that vettel could race conservative into turn 1 if button and hamilton are pressuring? he doesnt need to defend too hard – as a crash would lose him 25 points in the championship. just throwing up another posibility.

      1. I think Vettel will be fine. He usually doesnt run into problems when he is in 1st place, I am more worried about the high level of talent, Button, Hamilton, and Alonso all of whom dont have much to lose at the first corner.

      2. They bring updates as much as any other. They just talk less about it.

    11. i think the role of Button tomorrow, will be defend lewis from massa, and the two mclaren have a better chance passing vetell.

      1. it could be interesting to see if the 2 mclarens deliberately run side by side all the way down to turn 1. This could keep the fast starting ferraris behind and then they can focus on chasing down Vettel. I think we could see a Mclaren 1-2 tomorrow

        1. I would absolutely love to see this level of team work

          1. Only if the Grip Goblins don’t sneak into Buttons garage and steal all the grip from his car like they do most times between sessions…

      2. Did you watch Canada? The role of Button is to beat Lewis.

    12. Ironic, but Vettel should be praying to see Lewis losing position to Button at the start.

      Jenson will be his best team mate. He cant keep with Vettel´s pace.

      1. He did in Monaco.

    13. Adrian Morse
      30th July 2011, 21:28

      I hope Hamilton’s extra set of super softs will be an advantage, but that does assume that the super softs will be the tyre of choice tomorrow. If the optimum strategy turns out to be, for instance, SS – S – S (- S), then he may have been better off saving a set of softs, like his competitors.

      1. Thats what I was thinking. I dont think those SS are fast enough, or last long enough to make up the time for extra needed pitstops.

      2. Yeah i don’t see how that set will be useful since i assume the most common tactic will be to use the super-soft they have from qualifying for a few laps at the start and then do the whole race on soft.

        Maybe if Lewis decides to attempt an aggressive strategy of going full speed all the time and make one more pit stop than others using super-soft at the end. But to go for such strategy he must not be trapped behind another car because then the extra pace will be meaningless. I guess if his second behind Vettel after the start a fast first pit stop might give him that free air to go for such a strategy.
        Is not a bad idea since his Mclaren seeem to be less kind to it’s tyres than Red Bull and Ferrari and such a strategy will help him get rid of that worry since the extra pit-stop will guarantee fewer laps on each tyre without the risk of having to play tyre maintenance games with the other competitors.

    14. Has any driver gone through a whole season with no DNFs? Surely the law of averages state that an RB7 is due one? This would add buckets of spice to the half way point of the season.

      Not trying to sound horrible, just saying

      1. I’m with you there, except i wouldnt say ‘an RB7’ is due one, but ‘Vettel’s RB7 is due one :P’. It wont add any excitement to the championship if Webber retires, its Vettel who needs to be stopped.

      2. You need to hope for more than just one DNF by Vettel to spice up the championship race. He will still lead the championship even if he fails to finish in Hungary, Spa, and Monza.

        More importantly, he is less than two race victories away from exceeding his 2010 points total.

    15. I just hope a McLaren gets ahead, like at the Nurburgring. If Vettel leads from the start, he’s mighty in the first few laps, and he’s gone. That’s what he’s talking about.

      Just checked out last year’s start again – the only other recent race here on slicks – and clean didn’t beat dirty as much as I was expecting – in fact 5th-placed Hamilton dropped a place. But I’m sure Alonso’s reminded Massa who’s on the clean side at least 10 times since qualifying!

      1. Haha, Concur to your last remarks…

    16. The last time that the driver who started 2nd on the grid in Hungary stayed ahead of the driver who started 3rd was 2005….

    17. rain please

    18. Hamilton is giving up 2.5 kph in the speed trap to Vettel.

      1. Really? That’s weird…given the McLaren’s strength.

    19. I would love some rain as well

    20. Nobody talks about Force India…! Clearly stands a nice chance to repeat the Nurburgring performance.

    21. Turn one action will be great,won’t be surprise if we see some front wing on the track.I guess many if not all in the top 10 will go for 3 stops,will Button try something different? Hamilton to me will win the race followed by Vettel & Alonso.

    22. Well done Force India boys, god to see the team finding some form, only wish I could say the same for Renault. As for my mate Webber starting from 6th (dirty side) can I predict he’ ll be 10th by the 1st corner?

      1. With his KERS issues? Yeah, why not.

    23. Sunday morning’s GP3 race took place on a wet but dying track. It’ll likely dry out before the F1 race (unless it rains again), especially with GP2 and Porsche Supercup yet to run, but the rain will be another factor in the track’s ever-changing grip levels.

      1. That means the side the drivers start on will be irrelevant wont it? Since the rubber etc will be already washed from the track.

    24. Excellent news for lewis and massa!

    25. hamilton will win regardless insyallah

    26. finally massa has done it, he out qualified nando but for sure he is going to lift a bit in favor for the el matador…go ferra-lonso….

    27. I don’t care who wins, if the race is as good as the last one!

    28. Vettel’s to lose. I’m not just saying that ‘cos he’s on pole either.

    29. poor vettel he just only know how to drive from pole but doesnt have the character to maintain a good driver behind him hahahhaa where are vettels lovers.

    Comments are closed.