The hellish heat takes the lion’s share in the first day of free practice on the Hungaroring track in Budapest. The afternoon session, held with recorded asphalt temperatures up to 64 degrees centigrade, made life difficult for the drivers both because of the heat they had to endure in the passenger compartment of the car, and because being able to get the tires to work properly in these conditions was certainly not an easy task. The compounds soft brought by Pirelli have anyway reacted well, but finding the right balance in the cars for the teams was not easy. The most ready like car trim was the Mercedes team, with Bottas And Hamilton who found speed in the qualification simulation and repetitiveness on the pace of the race without suffering too much.
Mercedes work on reliability – One thing that we cannot fail to notice (and which we will corroborate with the data below) is that even on this Friday and despite the high temperatures, the Brackley team did not show an attitude particularly conservative on the front power unit e power delivered. Unlike for example of Honda, which, with all its cars on the track, held several horses at rest in both sessions today. If the Mercedes power unit for 2021 no longer has that significant advantage of horses compared to everyone as in the last season, the impression is that the engineers of the star’s house have worked enormously on the reliability front. Historically, one of the characteristics of Mercedes’ approaches to race weekends, in fact, was to remain extremely conservative on the power front in free practice sessions, and then unload all the cavalry on the ground. qualification and race. This season, on the other hand, is not the first weekend in which Mercedes runs with an already fairly high power regime (or at least higher than the direct rivals). since Friday. A hypothesis that comes to mind is that the pushed mapping, in “Strat 2”, which the silver arrows were equipped with (the famous “party mode“) Imposed one stress so significant for the power unit, that not being able to use it anymore allows today to face all the sessions in a manner much less conservative than in the past.
Honda still conservative, while Max argues with the set-up – Unlike Mercedes, the power unit Honda appeared still spinning at reduced speed, evidently fearing the great heat. Along with that, rising temperatures brought some decompensation waiting in Verstappen’s car, who spent the afternoon session looking for a square for the aerodynamic trim of his car, without being able, for now, to find the optimal balance. The perception is that the potential there is in the car but the set-up problems of the afternoon have largely hidden it. To get a clearer idea we have compared the data of the best lap of Vertappen with those of Valtteri Bottas, first in the afternoon session, in order to compare the performances of the two contending teams for the world title.
It is quite evident like Valtteri Bottas’ W12 emerges powerfully in every extension of the runway. The first sector of the track is absolutely the faster, and here Verstappen even remedies 3 tenths and a half from Finnish. Going into detail, almost all the lost time comes from main straight (the longest on the track) and from first detached. Bottas gets to touch i 314 km / h before the braking, against the 305 of Verstappen. The Finn obviously has to brake a few moments before his Dutch rival, but also the modulation of the braking Bottas allows him to still earn something (evidently excellent Mercedes stability when braking). In the rest of the lap the two drivers alternate their performances, with Bottas better at turns 4 and 5, in the quick changes of direction of turns 7-8-9 and markedly faster in the extension between turns 11 and turn 12. This brings him about 121 thousandths in the central sector, but the Mercedes power and all these stages of “violent” traction they seem to put in crisis the rear tires, and in the third sector, characterized by 2 very long curves at medium-low speed, is Verstappen to emerge, regaining 179 thousandths. This last figure leaves the doubt that perhaps, in the RedBull package, we are trying to dose the power also in function of the thermal load of tires rear. To dispel any possible doubts, we remind you that all the cars run on the Hungarian circuit with configurations of maximum downforce, even on the W12 we have also seen a nolder to the rear wing, and for this reason we attribute to the power delivered from the power unit a significant percentage of these speed differences in draw that result from the data.
Ferrari struggling in the flying lap – The work done in Maranello on the race pace seems to be confirmed by the various simulations, but the approach more aimed at long run performance now seems to leave some difficulties greater on dry ride. Leclerc And Sainz they closed the session very far from the top, in eleventh and twelfth place at 1.3 and 1.4 seconds behind Bottas. Leclerc said he was happy with the day, saying that for the Maranello team they need to find a better performance in qualifying but the balance of the car is good. The impression is that the Monegasque was particularly happy with his I work in the long run (with a good pace and without particular slumps in performance) which he obviously feared in particular. However, his team-mate clearly said that they are there some types of curves that put the SF21 and that therefore the difficulties in the flying lap were expected. We compared Bottas’ lap with Leclerc’s to understand something more.
Even compared to Leclerc Bottas he is faster in the extension, especially in the main straight, in the one that leads to turn 4 and then in the final extension up to turn 12, confirming what was said earlier about Mercedes. In the first sector, however, the difference is important, considering that between the first straight and the extension leading to curve 4 Leclerc gets to take well half a second from Finnish. In the central sector the most macroscopic difficulties of the SF21 emerge. In the stretch of changes of direction fast going from turn 8 to turn 9 Leclerc can’t drive cleanly. It is clear from the data that the Monegasque has to return at the braking of turn 8 twice on the brake, recording a huge difference in speed from Bottas, 14 km / h. Even at turn 11, a little further on, it is clear how Bottas can lightly touch the brake for a few moments, while Leclerc must brake much longer to make the curve. It therefore seems that in the stretches where you arrive with great speed and you are forced to brake “in combined”, That is, already in the corner entry phase, with a certain steering angle, the SF21 does not convey great security to its pilots, who are therefore forced to brake more or to try to proportionate the braking as much as possible in the straight part of the track before the curve, thus producing a significant loss of time, with Leclerc even losing 6 and a half tenths in the central sector alone. The positive thing for the redhead, however, is that in the third sector (Achilles heel of the redhead in past seasons) Leclerc manages to contain the gap to just 2 tenths from Bottas with even some speed detection even better than the Finn, proving to have a car that manages to keep the soft tire alive until the end of the lap and that the problems to be solved are general set-up of the car, especially the part mechanics, and not in the difficult task of finding the operating point of Pirelli roofs. Certainly for Ferrari the task of establishing itself third force it doesn’t seem easy. McLaren once again she does not show up on Friday, and this makes it difficult to assess her potential, but there is no reason to exclude her from the fight. Also on the Hungaroring i overtaking I’m very complicated and a car that is also slow in terms of race pace, such as the Alpine, it can become a problem if its drivers find a level performance in qualifying.
Homework for the night – In conclusion, if after Friday at Silverstone everything was frozen and there was little for the teams to do on Friday evening, the return to the traditional weekend format and what was shown on the track suggests a long night of work for the teams in view of the third free practice session and, above all, of the qualification. RedBull needs to find the optimal balance and a stable behavior of the car, on a track that still sees it as a great favorite in terms of characteristics, waiting to understand if and how much Honda it can and will go up with the power output of its power units. Ferrari must work on the front dry ride trying not to sacrifice the race pace, because the fight in the middle of the group will be extremely tight and one will probably suffice handful of thousandths between playing the third row or being out of Q3. All with a forecast of cooler temperatures and rain for Saturday morning that could shuffle the cards again.