Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Nurburgring, 2013

Softer tyres and hot weather should help Lotus

2013 Hungarian Grand Prix previewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, Nurburgring, 2013This weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix could prove highly significant in deciding the destiny of this year’s world championship.

It will be the first race on revised Pirelli tyres which are similar in construction to those used last year. The new tyres, introduced in the wake of the punctures seen at Silverstone, will be used for the rest of the season and could have a profound effect on the competitive order.

While the softer 2013 compounds remain, the alterations to the construction have produced a more conservative tyre. As a result Pirelli have changed their tyre allocation for Hungary from the original choice of medium and hard to medium and soft.

The change is good news for Lotus who criticised the original allocation as “very conservative”. The E21 has been one of the best cars at preserving its tyres – several times this year the team has made one stop fewer than its competitors.

Lotus have another reason to be optimistic heading into this weekend’s race. Early forecasts suggest race day temperatures of more than 35C, and Lotus have thrived in hot conditions this year.

Hungaroring circuit information

Lap length 4.381km (2.722 miles)
Distance 70 laps (306.6km/190.5 miles)
Lap record* 1’19.071 (Michael Schumacher, 2004)
Fastest lap 1’18.436 (Rubens Barrichello, 2004)
Tyres Medium and Soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Hungaroring track data in full

One team that has struggled in the heat this year has been Mercedes. While the change in tyre construction may ease that problem, track temperatures in the fifties will not. Nor will missing last week’s Young Drivers Test, which they were banned from.

A small but significant change which could have an effect on the race is the FIA’s lowering of the pit lane speed limit following the injury suffered by a cameraman in Germany. This will increase the length of time it takes to make a pit stop, handing an advantage to those who make fewer of them, which is potentially more good news for Lotus.

Hungary marks the halfway point in the season, after which the teams will observe a mandatory two-week factory shutdown. Some of them will face tough questions about whether to press on with their 2013 campaigns or divert all their energies to preparing for next year’s overhaul of the technical regulations.

How they fare on the new tyres this weekend will be a significant factor in those decisions.

Hungary Grand Prix team-by-team preview

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2013The momentum is with Vettel in the championship at the moment: his latest win gave him a 34-point lead. Red Bull lobbied for more conservative tyres earlier in the year so it would be a surprise if they lost out from the alterations.

The Hungarian Grand Prix is one of two races on the calendar Vettel is yet to win. He was leading comfortably in 2010 until a mistake behind the Safety Car saw him receive a penalty.


Felipe Massa believes the switch to medium and soft tyres is good news for Ferrari: “I expect the tyres will be critical again, especially in relation to temperature. They will perform very differently in qualifying and the race and I hope we can make the most of the high temperatures.”


McLaren have already said they will make 2014 their top priority after this race. They’ve won six of the last eight Hungarian Grands Prix but it’s extremely unlikely they will add to that tally this weekend.

Despite the problems with their car, Jenson Button believes the German Grand Prix shows the team are working well at the moment: “Our tyre-usage, strategy and management of the race was as good as it?s ever been.”

“It would be good to have a car with a little more pace to enable those calls to have a bit more impact at the front of the pack, but, for the moment, we can be satisfied by doing the best possible job in qualifying and on Sunday afternoon.”


Lotus’s two-three finish in Germany matches their result in this race last year. They were one of few teams not to use their races drivers during the Silverstone test, but team principal Eric Boullier says “we’re confident we have enough data to say that there shouldn?t be any nasty surprise”.


Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Nurburgring, 2013Although Mercedes were not present at the Silverstone test they still had access to the data Pirelli accrued on their new tyres. Nonetheless Toto Wolff expects them to be at a disadvantage: “We will need to do extra homework on Friday to understand how the new tyres work with our car.”

“During the race at the N???rburgring, we were overheating the tyres and we want to minimise the chance of suffering a repeat problem in Hungary, where the track temperatures will also be high,” he added.


Nico Hulkenberg put Sauber back in the top ten in qualifying at the Nurburgring for the first time in six races. How much of that was down to the changes made to the tyres last time out, and how much of it was thanks to a new set-up developed in part by his team mate, remains to be seen.

Despite their recent financial problems the team have an update package planned for this weekend’s race.

Force India

Force India could be the biggest losers from the change in tyre specification. Having looked strong in the opening eight races they had an anonymous weekend in Germany. They ran both their race drivers at the Silverstone test in a bid to better understand the latest tyres.


After nine races with no points Williams have announced major changes to their technical department. Mike Coughlan has gone and will be replaced by Pat Symonds next month, leaving the team somewhat in limbo in the meantime.

Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, Nurburgring, 2013Daniel Ricciardo’s test for Red Bull at Silverstone shows he is leading the race to be Mark Webber’s successor.

Jean-Eric Vergne has had some good results this year but desperately needs to get on terms with his team mate in qualifying – Ricciardo started the last two races from the third row.


Further upgrades are planned for the CT03 this weekend as Caterham increasingly have the measure of Marussia in the races but still trail them in the championship, needing a 13th-place finish or higher to move ahead.


The contest between Marussia and Caterham – particularly between their quickest drivers Jules Bianchi and Charles Pic respectively – is close. Caterham have the edge at the moment, but Bianchi’s run at the Nurburgirng was spoiled by engine failure.

2013 driver form

Driver G avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 2.78 2.13 1 4 8/9 Form guide
Mark Webber 6.56 4.5 2 7 8/9 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 5.33 3.5 1 8 8/9 Form guide
Felipe Massa 8.78 6.71 3 15 7/9 Form guide
Jenson Button 10.11 9.56 5 17 9/9 Form guide
Sergio Perez 11.22 11.22 6 20 9/9 Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen 6.44 4.44 1 10 9/9 Form guide
Romain Grosjean 9.89 9 3 19 7/9 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 4 5 1 9 7/9 Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 2.78 4.89 3 12 9/9 Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg 11.78 10.86 8 15 7/8 Form guide
Esteban Gutierrez 17.22 14.38 11 20 8/9 Form guide
Paul di Resta 13.11 7.88 4 11 8/9 Form guide
Adrian Sutil 9.89 9.71 5 13 7/9 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 15.89 13.5 11 16 6/9 Form guide
Valtteri Bottas 14.56 13.56 11 16 9/9 Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne 13.11 9.6 6 12 5/9 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 10.22 12.29 7 18 7/9 Form guide
Charles Pic 19.78 16.25 14 18 8/9 Form guide
Giedo van der Garde 19.89 17.57 15 21 7/9 Form guide
Jules Bianchi 19.11 16.14 13 19 7/9 Form guide
Max Chilton 20.56 17.56 14 20 9/9 Form guide

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Images ?? Lotus/LAT, Red Bull/Getty, Daimler/Hoch Zwei