Budapest, Friday 30 July 2021. It was the scene of an incandescent start to the weekend, from all points of view. Very high temperatures at the Hungaroring, a tortuous and high downforce circuit that puts a lot of strain on the tires.
Mario Isola has focused on the cooling of the tires, not at all simple here, with the teams looking for the right set up to complete the entire lap without stressing the compound too much, with accentuated problems when it comes to the race.
Format? Normal! After the Silverstone Sprint Race with a lively and non-stop weekend, here we return to the most appropriate of the programs: 3 free practices of 1 hour, Qualifying and Race, with canonical times.
Weekend which, however, is also hot from the point of view of the moral environment, with Red Bull’s appeal rejected across the board, with also a position taken by the FIA (which expresses concern about certain phrases by Red Bull in the letter presented together to the review question) and also condemned in some way by Mercedes (which refers to the attempt by the Red Bull high management to damage Lewis Hamilton’s image as a sportsman).
A story that at time has gone far beyond what is allowed, but which does not seem to subside given what Verstappen said on Thursday (who still points the finger at the Mercedes celebrations, speaking of the true nature of the Anglo-German team and of Hamilton himself), while on the other hand it continues to invite a lowering of tones. Now the fight will also return to the track and it is hoped that from now on they will limit themselves only to that.
However, we can also talk about the battle on the track, the healthy one, the beautiful one that those who watch Formula 1 like, the one between McLaren and Ferrari for third constructors place.
Respect – for now – between the two teams, between the drivers, a challenging but not hostile atmosphere and a lot of talent at stake. A track that on paper should favor the SF21, but McLaren reacts by bringing a package of updates to the central part of the MCL35M that should bring an addition of downforce to their car.
Behind Alpine has completed a series of updates and now, like Aston Martin, again have announced that they have ‘switched’ to the 2022 project completely, as McLaren should do and as Ferrari has announced that it has done for some time, perhaps before everyone. Alpha Tauri hopes to redeem a not-so-brilliant Silverstone and in general a period where he has collected less than expected.
This fight will join the top fight between Red Bull and Mercedes, with the unknown of how close the midfield, in particular Ferrari, might or might not get close to them. Behind, however, Williams’ progress must be monitored on a completely different track from the previous ones, but also Alfa Romeo which here hopes to have some more chances.
The heat will be a factor, since Friday, to see how it will affect the forces on the field. These forecasts, however, also give some probability of precipitation to arrive at the race. We will see, what is certain is that a Grand Prix awaits us with many interesting aspects and that, we reiterate, can only make the track speak as much as possible, because after all – on these tones and these ways – we frankly do not feel the need.
The Midfield fight, on the other hand, sees possible uncomfortable ‘third parties’ in addition to McLaren and Ferrari. The SF21 did not shine particularly, more was expected on this circuit and for now there are no positive signs. On the race pace we saw a good management of the Soft tire, since unlike other teams Charles Leclerc’s times have not worsened a lot but remained constant, albeit at a not very fast pace. Only one lap on a Medium tire for Charles, very fast. Good pace for Carlos Sainz instead on Hard, only 3 laps, which however did not show a clear superiority over Norris with the same compound.
Medium compound that allows the drivers and teams to push with very close rhythms between the various cars, where we saw a good Sebastian Vettel and also some laps of Ricciardo and Alonso to record.
Values that can still change on track because some cars still need to be set to their best, but it is above all the track conditions that can change. It seems less hot for today, a few degrees less, and this could slightly change the behavior of the cars. A Friday of hard work and great heat that will have made the drivers suffer in the car, with physical effort, but also the engineers.