Softer tyres and hot weather should help Lotus

2013 Hungarian Grand Prix preview

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.

Ferrari

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

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

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”.

Mercedes

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.

Sauber

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.

Williams

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.

Caterham

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.

Marussia

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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2013 Hungarian Grand Prix

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

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38 comments on Softer tyres and hot weather should help Lotus

  1. Rigi (@rigi) said on 24th July 2013, 13:52

    my money’s on lotus. as long as they qualify well, i’m sure we’ll se at least one of them on the podium.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 24th July 2013, 16:18

      They will beat Seb if they get their strategy right. I think Red Bull will qualify better and Lotus will probably start behind Mercedes, if they get rid of tyre-hungry W0-4 and keep the bulls at sight, they will be leading after first pit stops.

      I’m curious to see what will Ferrari do and maybe Mercedes problems are minimized by new tyres.

    • Really? The new fronts should survive much better meaning that the advantage Lotus has on Red Bull will dissipate with the new tyre that should allow Red Bull to unleash all of their potential. I’m predicting a very dominant rest of championship for Red Bull. Only question mark is Mercedes, how will they fare with the new fronts, they certainly suffered the most with the no swapping metal old fronts in germany.

  2. jimscreechy (@) said on 24th July 2013, 13:53

    Thank God! A race after 3 weeks!

  3. photozen (@photozen) said on 24th July 2013, 14:01

    I agree, I think Lotus has a good chance this weekend, with Red Bull and Serb 2nd, and then hopefully Alonso 3rd. Merc will probably still suffer from rear tyre problems, but Hamilton could be good for pole and could finish in the top 5, along with Webber. Grosjean could be in there as well after his performance the past race or so.

  4. WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 24th July 2013, 14:05

    My sneaky tenner has been booked firmly in Raikkonen’s favour…

  5. J. Withman (@polestar31) said on 24th July 2013, 14:34

    Qualifying is key, in my opinion. If Mercedes suffered from not being able to participate in the Young Drivers Test, Vettel may well be on pole. This could make it difficult for Lotus. If Mercedes can take the front row, and keep Vettel at bay in the opening stint, Raikkonen or Grosjean may have a chance of winning the GP.

    On a sidenote: I somehow expect Alonso to be charging through the field…

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 24th July 2013, 16:22

      Yes. Despite missing YDT I expect Merc to be strong on quali and Lotus will probably start behind Mercedes and Red Bull, they should try to get past Merc early on the race and keep Red Bull (Seb) within range. Ferrari should be strong on those tyres on a hot Sunday, so it has the potential for a three-way battle.

  6. Wallbreaker (@wallbreaker) said on 24th July 2013, 15:39

    Little mistake there @keithcollantine, Vettel has an advantage of 34 points over Alonso, not 37.

  7. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 24th July 2013, 15:48

    Ironically, I think the tyre debacle actually will help Lotus immensely even though they put up stern resistance to any changes. Considering the race pace they had in Germany, Lotus have got to be number one for the win if the temperatures stay high.

    However, if Vettel manages a front row as he has done with the Mercedes and Webber heading the Lotuses as well they may have a struggle to get past the Red Bull unless they can pull off a good strategy as they did last year to jump cars in the pits. So again it looks like another race of “tyres tyres tyres”.

  8. Shreyas Mohanty (@) said on 24th July 2013, 16:15

    Shouldn’t this benefit Ferrari too? Or am I missing something?

    • Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 24th July 2013, 17:13

      Well maybe, maybe not. This is what Massa said about this race in Keith’s roundup

      “People say the characteristics of our car are not best suited to this circuit and that it will be tough for us to fight for the win here, but I am not sure this is an accurate assessment, because there have been other circuits where we expected our car to be very strong and it was not and vice versa.”

      • Shreyas Mohanty (@) said on 24th July 2013, 17:40

        @timothykatz What drivers usually say is public speech – we’ll try our best next weekend ; we can still win the championship from 100 behind! ( :p ) Well, we’ll get a hint in practice.

        • Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 24th July 2013, 21:33

          @shreyasf1fan Well yes, absolutely. Everyone (not just drivers) talks down expectations so they don’t look so stupid when it all comes crashing down around their ears. Much better to do that and then be able to cough politely from the centre seat at the post-race press confidence and say that you had complete confidence in the team/strategist/designer/tea boy all along.
          But I was a little disappointed with Massa’s almost fatalistic approach “If it is written in the stars . . .”

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 24th July 2013, 17:19

      I think it should, but another poor qualifying could hinder them around here.

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 24th July 2013, 17:23

      @shreyasf1fan it’s far too early to judge (especially because the tyres are changing again) but Ferrari didn’t look quite as competitive in Germany as they had done in the preceding races. Nonetheless, they shouldn’t be handicapped by the temperatures in theory as it hurts Mercedes and to a lesser extent Red Bull, who may otherwise beat them.

      As said above though, it may help them and may not!

  9. Umar Majid (@um1234) said on 24th July 2013, 17:19

    Cannot wait for the race, could be the best race this season
    Don’t think Lotus will dominate but if they cant win on sunday then they are no longer championship contenders. you cant have this many advantages on your side and not win. Lotus need both cars in the top 5

  10. Shreyas Mohanty (@) said on 24th July 2013, 17:38

    @timothykatz What drivers usually say is public speech – we’ll try our best next weekend ; we can still win the championship from 100 behind! ( :p ) Well, we’ll get a hint in practice.

  11. Libellula (@ladyf1fanatic) said on 24th July 2013, 17:40

    Erm God please I know you are busy but whatever you’re doing now, wherever you are… i can’t buy you a Mercedes (*) but could afford to share a Red Bull snack (**) with you ! Try to listen to this fan’s wishes for once, if there still some wings outta here, an equal distribution among the F1 circus would be appreciated ;-)
    (*) I don’t think you really need it anyway
    (**) yuck

  12. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 24th July 2013, 18:05

    I checked the form guides, and there are just a few teams where one driver dominates the other based on statistics:

    Vettel, Hulkenberg, Bianchi

    Alonso and Raikkonen also doing much better than their team mates.

    Otherwise, it is a bit of a mixed bag.

  13. Merv (@) said on 24th July 2013, 18:05

    It’s quite funny how we always hear that practice times are meaningless, along with test times. Yet here we are, before even a wheel has turned in Hungary, predicting the result ;)

  14. George (@george) said on 24th July 2013, 18:28

    The weather might help Lotus this week, but Red Bull still seem to have the all-round package.

  15. Todfod (@todfod) said on 24th July 2013, 18:49

    If I had to guess – Red Bull should be clear favourites yet again. I would be shocked if Lotus was quicker that Red Bill in quali or the race. Ferrari will be fighting for 3rd fastest with Mercedes.

    This is turning out to be another strong season for team Newey.

    • Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 24th July 2013, 18:56

      Mark isn’t listing to his fans telling him to take Vettel out lol

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 24th July 2013, 21:16

      @todfod I agree I would be shocked if Lotus had the better of Red Bull in qualifying, the race however is a different kettle of fish. Lotus were arguably superior on race pace to Red Bull in Germany and we don’t really know what will happen with the new tyre constructions – in theory it should help Red Bull as I do believe the stiffer constructions will mean that they suffer less from graining but anything could happen!

      • Todfod (@todfod) said on 25th July 2013, 8:08

        Dont know about the race pace difference between Lotus and Red Bull. At the start of the race, the pace of the Red Bull was supreme. If it wasn’t for safety car periods, the Rd Bull would have finished far ahead of the Lotus cars. I think Lotus showed strong race pace towards the end of the race due to slightly better tyre management and track temps being slightly higher.

        We could go as far as saying that Lotus can match Red bull on race pace, but its hard to say that they are actually quicker

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