Analysis: Hungaroring track changes put lap records in sight
July 18, 2016, 3:00 pm    

Formula 1 teams could be set for another record-breaking weekend at the Hungaroring, thanks to a resurfaced track and kerb changes.

An early examination by F1 tyre supplier Pirelli has confirmed that the new Hungaroring asphalt laid for this year is `aggressive`, which should help produce greater grip and lower lap times.

As well as the surface changes, some of the kerbs have been reprofiled too – which helped contribute to record-breaking laps when the World Touring Car Championship visited the venue earlier this year.

On that occasion, Jose Maria Lopez`s pole time of 1m46.109s was more than two seconds faster than Yvan Muller`s best effort of 1m48.848s from last season.

Lap record leap

In F1, Lewis Hamilton`s 2015 pole position time of 1m22.020 is well adrift of Rubens Barrichello`s all-time fastest lap of 1m18.436s that he set in Q1 in 2004 (Michael Schumacher`s pole time that year was 1m19.146s).

However, progress that has been made with cars and engines this year, allied to softer tyres and the track changes could lead to a dramatic step forward in times.

Pirelli`s F1 racing manager Mario Isola said about the prospect of new lap records. "My opinion is yes, it is possible.

"If you consider the effect of the extra grip because of the tarmac, and the cars are quicker, it is possible that we have new track records."

Surface analysis

Isola said that Pirelli has already sent engineers to analyse the new Hungaroring track surface, which helped gather some data on the changes.

"We went to Budapest, the Red Bull Ring and Sepang – the three circuits that are completely new in terms of asphalt," he said.

"The roughness is not very different from the old one, but of course it is a new surface so we need to check the level of grip because the way in which they prepare the tarmac could be quite different.

"In Austria they made a special treatment on the surface with high-pressure water [jets] to remove the bitumen, and to make an accelerated ageing of the tarmac to avoid that there is an evolution that is too big during the race weekend. I don`t know what is the situation in Budapest.

"We also have some information from other categories that it seems to be a bit more aggressive. We will measure it again on the Wednesday before the race and give that information to the teams."

High track temperature

One of the consequences of the new tarmac – which is very dark – is that track temperatures could get exceptionally high if the weather is good over the Hungaroring weekend.

That could have a big impact in terms of tyre wear and thermal degradation.

"The point is, when you have sun, the radiation is heating the tarmac much more than an older tarmac," added Isola. "And this is something that they have to consider.

"In Baku for example, we had 52-degrees at the beginning of the race and with a shadow the temperature dropped down a lot to 40-degrees.

"So with tyre wear and degradation, if you compare the first half of the race with the second half of the race, it was completely different."


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