GP3 ON SOFTS
The Pirelli-supplied FIA Formula 2 Championship and GP3 Series return to action at the legendary Hungaroring for rounds eight and five respectively, as the season approaches its traditional summer break.
• The Hungaroring is tight and twisting in nature with a low average speed. However, the many corners and lack of long straights mean that the tyres are being constantly worked during a lap with traction, braking and lateral forces.
• Teams run the cars with high downforce levels, but the relatively low cornering speeds mean there is more reliance on the mechanical grip from the tyres.
• Overtaking can be difficult, so getting the most out of the tyres in qualifying is important, while good strategy calls can be crucial in the races.
• Physically it’s a tough race: temperatures are often very high and there’s little airflow around the car, with the drivers working hard.
The tyres and strategy
• The P Zero White medium and P Zero Red supersoft tyres have been nominated for F2: a change from last year when the medium and soft tyres were used. This combination was used earlier this season in both Baku and Le Castellet.
• In F2, each driver has five sets of slick tyres to use over the weekend: three medium and two supersoft. They also have three sets of wet-weather tyres. During race one, where there is a mandatory pit stop, both compounds have to be used unless it is declared a wet race. Pit stops are optional in race two.
• Just one tyre is nominated for each GP3 round: at the Hungaroring it’s the soft. This is one step softer than in 2017, when the medium was used. Drivers get three new sets of dry tyres plus one carry-over set of hard tyres from the Silverstone round, which must be returned in free practice. There are two sets of wet-weather tyres as well (although it rarely rains at this time of year near Budapest).
What happened last year?
Oliver Rowland won the F2 feature race, fending off Artem Markelov after both started on the soft tyre and switched to the medium. After a technical infringement deprived him of pole position, Charles Leclerc (now racing for Sauber in F1) used the alternative strategy to race from the back of the grid to fourth. Nobuharu Matsushita won the sprint race on the medium tyre. Jack Aitken and Giuliano Alesi were the winners in GP3.
Mario Isola, Pirelli head of car racing: “The tyre nomination in F2 this weekend is a step softer than last year for the softest compound, whereas we maintain the same nomination for the harder compound. In GP3, the single-compound is softer. This should add to the challenge of tyre management at a circuit whose layout is always quite demanding for tyres, as the lack of a long straight means that they don’t really get a chance to cool down. In Formula 2, we have a ‘gap’ in the nominations – going straight from medium to supersoft – as we’ve seen a couple of times already this year: a choice that we have also made on occasions in Formula 1. This should hopefully lead to an interesting range of strategic choices: an important element at the Hungaroring, as it’s a circuit that is often quite hard to overtake on.”