Vettel has chance to extend points lead as Ferrari thrive in Hungarian heat

2017 Hungarian Grand Prix pre-race analysis

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Sebastian Vettel’s pole position is only the third Ferrari have had this season. But every time they’ve taken pole they’ve also locked out the front row the grid.

Vettel’s rivals can draw some encouragement from the surprising fact that only two of the last nine Hungarian Grands Prix have been won from pole position. The SF70-H should be at least an equally competitive prospect in the race, however.

As was the case in Monaco Ferrari’s strong chassis is serving them well on a low power-sensitivity circuit with plenty of corners. But this isn’t the only factor driving their performance advantage this weekend.

Searing heat at the Hungaroring has swung the balance of power towards Ferrari – perhaps decisively. Red Bull led the way on Friday as track temperatures headed towards the mid-30s. But by final practice temperatures exceeded 50C and it was clear Ferrari were thriving in the hotter conditions. Their quickest rival was eight-tenths of a second behind them.

Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
Mercedes made some progress with their set-up before qualifying and Lewis Hamilton set the quickest time in Q2. But as the pole position shoot-out began the asphalt was registering 56C.

Hamilton slipped off the track at turn four on his first run, resigning himself to a damage-limiting final lap to salvage fourth. Meanwhile Valtteri Bottas lost his grip on the front row.

The hike in temperatures is expected to last into tomorrow (and throughout next week’s two days of testing). The race stint simulations the drivers did on Friday were conducted on a significantly cooler track.

At present Pirelli believes a one-stop strategy is the best realistic option. Two stops are theoretically fractionally quicker, but the high risk of falling into traffic at a circuit where passing is difficult may put teams off it.

While the teams don’t know exactly what they’ll find in tomorrow’s hotter conditions, but Bottas has some expectations.

“For sure it’s going to be more tricky tomorrow than the long runs we did yesterday,” he said after qualifying. “But that’s going to be the same for everyone.”

“I think us, as a team, we have improved since some of the struggles we’ve had in hotter temperatures, it’s gone in a bit better direction.”

Bottas is the strongest-placed Mercedes on the grid, one place ahead of Hamilton and on the clean side of the track. In Russia he used the exceptionally long run to the first braking zone plus a headwind to get ahead of both Ferraris.

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The Hungaroring also has a long dash to turn one, though at 617 metres it’s significantly shorter than in Sochi. And Ferrari will no doubt be planning how to box him and Hamilton in around the slow corners at the start of the lap.

Red Bull and McLaren continue the neat rows of team mates on rows three and four respectively. The upgraded Red Bulls could give the Mercedes a headache, especially if they’re close enough to use the ‘undercut’ to attack.

Given how quickly the rest of the cars tend to drop back, watch out for Red Bull gambling on an aggressively early first stop to attack the Mercedes, knowing a second pit stop could be viable for them. That may explain why they’ve saved a fresh set of super-soft tyres.

Realistically, McLaren’s best hope is to hold on to those positions and profit from any retirements ahead, while resisting the rapid Renaults behind them: Nico Hulkenberg would have started ahead of the Honda-powered cars had it not been for his gearbox change penalty.

Qualifying times in full


Q2 (vs Q1)

Q3 (vs Q2)
1Sebastian VettelFerrari1’17.2441’16.802 (-0.442)1’16.276 (-0.526)
2Kimi RaikkonenFerrari1’17.3641’17.207 (-0.157)1’16.444 (-0.763)
3Valtteri BottasMercedes1’18.0581’17.362 (-0.696)1’16.530 (-0.832)
4Lewis HamiltonMercedes1’17.4921’16.693 (-0.799)1’16.707 (+0.014)
5Max VerstappenRed Bull1’17.2661’17.028 (-0.238)1’16.797 (-0.231)
6Daniel RicciardoRed Bull1’17.7021’17.698 (-0.004)1’16.818 (-0.880)
7Nico HulkenbergRenault1’18.1371’17.655 (-0.482)1’17.468 (-0.187)
8Fernando AlonsoMcLaren1’18.3951’17.919 (-0.476)1’17.549 (-0.370)
9Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren1’18.4791’18.000 (-0.479)1’17.894 (-0.106)
10Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso1’18.9481’18.311 (-0.637)1’18.912 (+0.601)
11Jolyon PalmerRenault1’18.6991’18.415 (-0.284)
12Esteban OconForce India1’18.8431’18.495 (-0.348)
13Daniil KvyatToro Rosso1’18.7021’18.538 (-0.164)
14Sergio PerezForce India1’19.0951’18.639 (-0.456)
15Romain GrosjeanHaas1’19.0851’18.771 (-0.314)
16Kevin MagnussenHaas1’19.095
17Lance StrollWilliams1’19.102
18Pascal WehrleinSauber1’19.839
19Paul di RestaWilliams1’19.868
20Marcus EricssonSauber1’19.972

Sector times

DriverSector 1Sector 2Sector 3
Sebastian Vettel27.499 (2)27.126 (1)21.479 (1)
Kimi Raikkonen27.397 (1)27.307 (4)21.638 (3)
Valtteri Bottas27.629 (3)27.230 (3)21.558 (2)
Lewis Hamilton27.630 (4)27.217 (2)21.664 (6)
Max Verstappen27.648 (5)27.366 (5)21.639 (4)
Daniel Ricciardo27.688 (6)27.419 (6)21.658 (5)
Nico Hulkenberg28.111 (11)27.489 (7)21.793 (7)
Fernando Alonso28.031 (8)27.568 (8)21.797 (8)
Stoffel Vandoorne28.113 (12)27.741 (9)21.973 (9)
Carlos Sainz Jnr28.126 (14)28.069 (11)22.116 (11)
Jolyon Palmer28.302 (17)28.028 (10)21.984 (10)
Esteban Ocon27.999 (7)28.182 (12)22.228 (13)
Daniil Kvyat28.068 (9)28.250 (15)22.202 (12)
Sergio Perez28.098 (10)28.312 (16)22.229 (14)
Romain Grosjean28.274 (16)28.208 (13)22.278 (15)
Kevin Magnussen28.224 (15)28.237 (14)22.398 (16)
Lance Stroll28.117 (13)28.472 (17)22.465 (18)
Pascal Wehrlein28.579 (19)28.783 (19)22.448 (17)
Paul di Resta28.521 (18)28.794 (20)22.553 (19)
Marcus Ericsson28.780 (20)28.635 (18)22.557 (20)

Speed trap

PosDriverCarEngineSpeed (kph/mph)Gap
1Sergio PerezForce IndiaMercedes313.0 (194.5)
2Paul di RestaWilliamsMercedes311.7 (193.7)-1.3
3Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFerrari311.6 (193.6)-1.4
4Valtteri BottasMercedesMercedes311.5 (193.6)-1.5
5Lewis HamiltonMercedesMercedes311.0 (193.2)-2.0
6Lance StrollWilliamsMercedes310.5 (192.9)-2.5
7Daniil KvyatToro RossoRenault309.7 (192.4)-3.3
8Max VerstappenRed BullTAG Heuer308.8 (191.9)-4.2
9Sebastian VettelFerrariFerrari308.3 (191.6)-4.7
10Daniel RicciardoRed BullTAG Heuer307.9 (191.3)-5.1
11Esteban OconForce IndiaMercedes307.7 (191.2)-5.3
12Romain GrosjeanHaasFerrari307.2 (190.9)-5.8
13Kevin MagnussenHaasFerrari307.0 (190.8)-6.0
14Carlos Sainz JnrToro RossoRenault306.1 (190.2)-6.9
15Marcus EricssonSauberFerrari303.5 (188.6)-9.5
16Jolyon PalmerRenaultRenault303.2 (188.4)-9.8
17Pascal WehrleinSauberFerrari302.9 (188.2)-10.1
18Stoffel VandoorneMcLarenHonda302.2 (187.8)-10.8
19Fernando AlonsoMcLarenHonda301.8 (187.5)-11.2
20Nico HulkenbergRenaultRenault300.2 (186.5)-12.8

Drivers’ remaining tyres

Lewis HamiltonMercedes011004
Valtteri BottasMercedes011004
Daniel RicciardoRed Bull011013
Max VerstappenRed Bull011013
Sebastian VettelFerrari012003
Kimi RaikkonenFerrari012003
Sergio PerezForce India101014
Esteban OconForce India101014
Felipe MassaWilliams011032
Lance StrollWilliams011032
Fernando AlonsoMcLaren011004
Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren011004
Daniil KvyatToro Rosso011004
Carlos Sainz JnrToro Rosso011014
Romain GrosjeanHaas011014
Kevin MagnussenHaas011032
Nico HulkenbergRenault011013
Jolyon PalmerRenault011014
Marcus EricssonSauber012013
Pascal WehrleinSauber012013

Over to you

Will Vettel extend his points lead ahead of the summer break? Or will this be another Hungarian Grand Prix where the pole sitter loses his advantage?

Share your views on the race in the comments.

2017 Hungarian Grand Prix

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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...

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9 comments on “Vettel has chance to extend points lead as Ferrari thrive in Hungarian heat”

  1. What are mercedes thinking? They only have 1 new set of soft tyres for the race and no more Ss. This completely reduces their flexibility even though it is likely to be another 1 stop race.

    1. I think it might be a 2 stop race, and that’s why no top team split their drivers on q2. Considering a 2 stop is likely, you ought to start on the SS to help you on the start also to reduce undercutting, also to cover any race eventuality, then go for yellows, hope to last till the end, if not that’s not possible try to undercut with the SS if the tyres are not lasting put another set of yellows. RB has managed their allocation perfectly, though the SS doesn’t look like a great race tyre you never know.

  2. Q2 laptime for Vettel is wrong, that’s pole time. 1’16.278 was his second best effort in Q3.

  3. The last driver to win the WDC after winning Hungary was Schumacher in 2004.

  4. Pin me on this, if I’m right would I get COTD…? Wondering here…

    If my theory continues to be right;
    Kimi will win.

    Ferrari got this in the pocket. If the Pirelli ghosts don’t come back.
    Everything suits the Ferrari this weekend. The long wear, the track temps, the track characteristics, is it the best track for Ferrari probably this whole season. So they will make sure they won’t screw this up.

    Mercedes won’t get near. Their rear – as expected is way too responsive.
    Red Bull lacks so much in the kinetic units, such a shame. They will get problems during the GP with the engine.

    The fun fact here is, the only thing that could create pandemonium will be Alonso and Vandoorne fighting with the leading 6 after their stops. It will even be difficult here to pass the Honda’s. So maybe with a early safety car, Honda could play a decisive role in the championship, otherwise it will be RB holding the early stops up.

    But this will probably end up in a poor procession with Vettel overcooking his tyres, Ferrari leaving Kimi out to hold up and counter the possible soft tyre gamble and it turns out that the SS actually hold on fine so Kimi extends his stint, Bottas keeps trying to pass him but fails, Lewis asks to use Bottas as a prop again, Kimi stops way later and gets out in front of Vettel (who will get stuck behind either a RB or a McLaren depending on the time) and everybody here will be happy because he’ll get his revenge for Monaco.

    Now the lotto numbers for next week are being revealed next monday.

    1. @xiasitlo love it. it’s bonkers but still

  5. sunny stivala
    30th July 2017, 6:16

    Mercedes didn’t dominate.
    red bull didn’t beat FERRARI.
    FERRARI weren’t out-developed.
    it wasn’t number 44’s track.
    somebody said that FERRARI aren’t using spark-plugs, that they are using a flexi floor, that they are using steel printed pistons, that they are using anchor injectors, that they are using either or both HCCI and JET combustion system, that they are burning oil as fuel.
    torpedo’s away! clear the bridge, dive, dive, dive.

  6. Vettel and Raikkonen need to better their starts. Seb’s been saying the starts weren’t so bad – but they were below average. The start is Lewis’ and Valterri’s chance to turn this into a very difficult race for Ferrari.

  7. Red Bull and McLaren continue the neat rows of team mates on rows three and four respectively. The upgraded Red Bulls could give the Mercedes a headache, especially if they’re close enough to use the ‘undercut’ to attack.

    Given how quickly the rest of the cars tend to drop back, watch out for Red Bull gambling on an aggressively early first stop to attack the Mercedes, knowing a second pit stop could be viable for them. That may explain why they’ve saved a fresh set of super-soft tyres.

    Good analysis. I think, however, that at least Hamilton will preserve his tires in the first laps to stretch his first stint and to reduce the danger of the undercut as much as possible. The big question mark is Bottas’ race pace. In Russia and Austria he was pretty fast (at least in the early stages of the race), but in Monaco, for example, he was nowhere.

Comments are closed.