Hungarian GP Preview: Aston and Ferrari aim to bounce back, McLaren hope to consolidate

19 Jul, 2023

The twelfth round of the season is the Hungarian GP, ​​where Max Verstappen will aim for his seventh consecutive race win of the season. Red Bull will have important updates, the team’s second significant package since Baku.

Further back, second and third place in the pecking order won’t be so obvious. Perez is struggling to adapt to the Milton Keynes car, Mercedes lacked pace in Silverstone – defined as their best chance to beat Verstappen.

Meanwhile, Ferrari and McLaren arrive in Budapest with good premises given the characteristics of the cars. 

On the other hand, it will be an important testing ground for Aston Martin – because the AMR23 should excel on a track like the Hungaroring. 

Hungary GP: Budapest requires maximum load – will feature a new Qualifying format

Historically, the Hungaroring has always been compared to Monaco, although since 2017, the Hungarian track is becoming more of a medium-speed circuit , especially in the middle sector.

The slowest corners on the track are turn 1, the chicane (turns 6 and 7), turn 12 and turn 13. The aerodynamic configurations will be similar, if not identical, to those already seen in Monaco.

In the two longer straights, it is possible to activate the DRS to compensate. On the other hand, horsepower will be crucial in the uphill section of the track at the end of the first sector. 

Many of the corners present have a very large radius, something that could put Ferrari, among all, in difficulty, but also Aston Martin, which was good in these types of corners before the package was introduced in Canada

With the latest updates, Mercedes has made progress in the type of corners they will face this weekend, but it will be difficult for Hamilton and Russell to compete for positions immediately behind Verstappen. 

McLaren seeks definitive confirmation of some recent steps forward seen after the updates in Austria and Silverstone.

The MCL60 was third fastest in Spielberg and second best in Britain. Being competitive on a different track like the Hungaroring will be important for the historic Woking team. 

Pirelli selected the softest compounds available: in 2022, it was Verstappen who won – thanks in part to Ferrari’s strategic mistake of fitting hard tyres.

The Dutchman won by starting on the C4 (soft), switching to the soft tyres for two stints. The evolution of the cars has led to better tire management in 2023, and therefore we could see a one-stop Grand Prix.

Also, on Saturday, we will see a new format that was supposed to make its debut at Imola:

Qualifying will follow the format according to which each driver can only use hard tires in Q1, medium ones in Q2 and soft ones in Q3

None of this would apply if the track were to be declared wet by the FIA, a scenario that is not impossible if you look at Saturday’s forecasts. 

Hungary GP updates: Red Bull with significant news, small news for the others

After the series of updates from its pursuers, it’s up to Red Bull to respond with a substantial package of new features in Hungary.

So far, on the RB19, we have focused on the evolution of the front wing and micro aerodynamic interventions, as well as other new features such as diffusers.

Therefore, this will be the second package of important and visible changes on the RB19. Red Bull was the fastest car in all competitive sessions in 2023, with the exception of the two Baku qualifying sessions, but the Milton Keynes engineers continue to make progress and improve what nonetheless looks like a perfect car.

At Ferrari, some small innovations will make their debut in the front area of ​​the SF-23: in Monaco, it was very difficult to find the correct balance of the car with the highly loaded rear wing, which exposed all the limits of the single-seater from Maranello. 

In Hungary, it will be important to find a better balance between the two axes, considering that this appointment could be a positive stage for Ferrari, as already anticipated by Vasseur

For the type of corners present (a few medium and high-speed corners), but also for the importance of qualifying in view of Sunday’s race.

Like Ferrari, other teams will have small developments, but no other significant package is expected in Budapest.

The budget cap severely limits the possibility of development, and engineers are starting to pay more attention to 2024 projects.

For the rest of the season, it will be rare to see big updates, aside from some exceptions, such as the anticipated new floor for Alpine at Spa.

Author: Andrea Vergani

Translation: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang

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