The Hungarian Grand Prix represents the penultimate stage before the break to introduce updates before the traditional summer stop. Scuderia Ferrari aims to confirm the success of its developments, which showed promising results in Austria. The Austria-United Kingdom-Hungary trio is critical to verify whether the chosen path is the right direction. Technically, the dominant team of the weekend is Red Bull, which introduced the most significant package among the top teams on the RB19. Ferrari, on the other hand, focuses on optimizing its package, which couldn’t showcase its potential at Silverstone due to incorrect strategies and setups.
Ferrari in Hungary Aiming for Second Place
As already analyzed, what happened at Silverstone couldn’t prove the strides made by Ferrari in pure performance. Nevertheless, the SF-23 displayed better performance than Aston Martin and was not too far from Mercedes at Silverstone, a track suited to the W14’s layout and temperatures. In Hungary, the red team aims to replicate the performances seen in Austria, with the goal of being the second force, especially in the race. They aim to confirm the improvements in race pace and tire management, particularly in higher temperatures than those seen in Zeltweg.
The Budapest circuit presents almost opposite characteristics to Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring, which should favor the SF-23 in most aspects. Aerodynamically, the red car has reverted to the maximum load configuration, with the rear wing and beam wing used in Spain and Monaco.
The only novelty, confirming previous observations, is a minor change in the layout of the last profile of the front wing, featuring an increased chord. There are no major changes after the front wing had already undergone substantial revisions in Austria, both in the endplate area and profile design. The additional gurney flap, not present in the Thursday version, is a further small step to generate more front-end load and reduce understeer, especially in long-radius slow corners like Turn 1 and Turns 13 and 14.
The program on Friday was clearly influenced by the wet first session in Budapest and the change in tire numbers (from 13 to 11) for the qualifying format test. Sainz didn’t complete a good lap, and the feeling is that, with Verstappen expected to dominate at the front, the others will battle over the details. Ferrari can rely on its strength, qualifying, in a track where overtaking is not guaranteed if you have a similar race pace.
Pirelli Tires Favor McLaren MCL60? According to Ferrari, Heat is the Fundamental Factor
The direct competitor for the role of the second force appears to be McLaren, which showed excellent times in FP2 long runs with Lando Norris. The attitude of the Woking team, however, assumes a “presumption of disadvantage,” suggesting that what was seen at Silverstone was actually influenced by favorable factors. Andrea Stella confirmed in a press conference this afternoon that they expect to perform more similarly to Austria. “What we saw in Austria and Silverstone was not just about performance but also about the layout of the track and cooler temperatures,” said the Team Principal of the English team.
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The McLaren uncertainty seems to have confirmed significant progress, at least for this single FP. The MCL60 can instantly heat the tires and make the compound work immediately. The key focus of the Hungarian weekend to determine if what was seen at Silverstone was not an isolated case will undoubtedly be dictated by the heat. They aim to understand if this McLaren, in addition to heating the tires instantly, can manage them effectively, as explained by F1 expert Rosario Giuliana for formu1a.uno.
According to McLaren boss Andrea Stella, it was not a mistake to race with medium to hard tires at Silverstone, and it would have been challenging to do what Mercedes did with soft tires. The 20-degree cooler asphalt between Friday and Sunday won’t be repeated in Hungary, quite the opposite.
The trend of the forecast is moving in the opposite direction, with Sunday being the hottest day (around 30 degrees air temperature and approximately 35 degrees asphalt). Ferrari looks closely at this aspect to understand how this change in tire structure might have influenced the car’s development, in addition to the updates, for the papaya-colored single-seater.