Hungary has become a standout race each season for many years now. The circuit is the complete antithesis of any track, new or old - it's more akin to Monaco than anything else. Thus, the tight confines of the Hungaroring force teams to run their Monaco high-downforce packages, and the heat forces the largest sidepod openings since the season-opening flyaway races.
Although the straight has been lengthened, the Hungaroring remains the tightest track on the calendar, overtaking is extremely difficult and its surface starts off dusty and unrubbered. Such is the progression of the track surface that the teams are having to pre-guess its state throughout the weekend. Friday practice sessions are largely spent cleaning off the sand and rubbering in the track.
Even through Saturday's free-practice session and qualifying, the track remains an enigma. This year the super-soft tyre option was not lasting a full lap, so many drivers opted for the durability and balance they found in the prime tyres, themselves the soft option from Bridgestone's four-tyre selection. Through the race the track continues to mature, and is at its grippiest late in the race, when most teams decided to run their super softs.
In a straightline the shark fin both directs flow to the rear wing © Scarborough (Click to enlarge)
It's not that the track has any superfast turns to load the tyres, but merely the relentless sequence of medium and slow corners never lets the tyres rest and the lack of a long straight never allows the tyres to cool. The combination of layout and heat also test the engines and brakes - neither gets to cool adequately - and this forces drivers to duck out of the slipstream to allow more air to enter the sidepods. The brakes need nursing to prevent overheating, leading to oxidisation of the disc, which in turn leads to rapid wear of the disc.