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What we learned from Friday F1 practice at the Hungarian GP

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Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc wrapped up a frantic FP2 session in preparation for Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix as neither Red Bull nor Mercedes fired up the timing screens in Formula 1.

The Monaco driver beat Silverstone podium finisher Lando Norris to top the time trial in a race that was affected by early rain and an alternative tire allocation trial for Saturday’s qualifying session. Two red flags hampered FP1, as did precipitation in the Mogyorod area, leaving drivers with little grip on FP2’s ‘green’ track.

The dry tire allocation for the Hungarian weekend was reduced from 13 to 11 due to the trial of fixed tire compounds for all stages of qualifying, and despite the lack of dry runs in FP1 the teams had to save quota. Anyway, here are the key takeaways from Friday’s practice session for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

story of the day

The Hungaroring track was affected by rain and the first free practice session did not yield much data other than a token run on wet tyres, as two red flags interrupted many teams’ running plans. In the closing stages of the race, a pressured Sergio Perez’s Red Bull team switched places at Turn 5, causing him to crash into the wall, causing the first of two stoppages in the run.

At halftime, when the injured RB19 was fished out of the barriers, the rain started to fall and was hard enough to stop all dry runs for the rest of the game. Drivers took a tentative tour of the constantly damping track of the intermediate rubber – in Kevin Magnussen’s case, wet tires – to explore the limits of available grip. Carlos Sainz lost control of his Ferrari on the exit of Turn 3 and hit the inside barrier on the way to Turn 4 before showing a second red flag in the second half of the race. The Spaniard was not blushed by law enforcement officers after he bit off part of the front wing after stranded his SF-23 on the grass.

George Russell’s last effort on the intermediate tyres was enough to see the Briton jump to the top of the timed cards, ahead of Oscar Piastri and Lance Stroll, with FP2 also facing the threat of persistent rain.

Russell takes the title in interrupted and soggy first practice

Russell takes the title in interrupted and soggy first practice

Photography: Glenn Dunbar/ motorsport pictures

This ultimately didn’t materialize and the track was dry when the second practice session started. The Williams driver took the lead in the opening 20 minutes, with Logan Sargeant’s early effort on the soft tyres, providing him with the springboard to jump to the top of the timed leaderboard. Admittedly, the American is definitely running against the grain when others open up accounts on mid-sized compounds, while he and Albon focus on the softest compound available.

Albon ended Sargent’s run on the clock board when he switched to medium tyres, but the Intai driver was quickly overtaken by a series of soft laps that pushed Kakuda to the top. Norris overturned that record with a lap time of 1:17.701, before the McLaren driver was passed by Leclerc in 1:17.686.

The longer races were the most affected by the teams’ keenness to save tyres, clouding expectations for the rest of the weekend. Additionally, the mandated tire compound for each race in qualifying – hard in the first quarter, medium in the second and soft in the third – presents differences in focus between each team as they consider which part of the race requires the most immediate attention.

Temperatures in Budapest are expected to reach around 30 degrees Celsius for Sunday’s game.That would preclude any mainstream use of the soft tyre, lest it melt into a Camembert-like ooze on contact with the Hungaroring

Red Bull, for example, has focused on Max Verstappen’s soft tyres, as the Dutchman is expected to enter the final stretch of qualifying. Sergio Perez, perhaps responding to FP1’s scrape, scored a hot lap on the medium-sized track as the Mexican looked to end his record absence in the third quarter. At the other end, Kevin Magnussen completed some hot laps on the toughest track, with Haas looking to gain experience on the track used in Q1.

Eliminate long-term uncertainty

The overall order in FP2 made a degree of difference as the teams saved on tyres, as the traditional frontrunners did not necessarily occupy their normal place at the top of the timing board. In some cases, the frugal approach to tires has forced teams to run longer than normal in FP2, especially with medium tyres.

Normal services are expected to resume after a change in weather on Friday, with temperatures in Budapest expected to hit around 30C by Sunday’s game. This likely precluded any mainstream use of the soft tire in the race, lest it melt into a Camembert-like ooze on contact with the Hungaroring surface. Best for long runs on medium-sized compounds, the table below shows the best times for longer runs. If the driver is doing multiple runs on the same field, use the longer run.

Average Moderate FP2 Running

team

driver

december hours

Number of turns

1

alfa romeo

Bottas

1 minute 23.368 seconds

10

2

McLaren

Norris

1 minute 23 seconds 464 seconds

16

3

Alps

Gasly

1 meter 23.685 seconds

15

4

aston martin

Alonso

1 minute 23.781 seconds

14

5

mercedes benz

Russell

1 minute 23.833 seconds

9

6

williams

albon

1 minute 23.915 seconds

16

7

Hass

Hulkenberg

1 minute 24 seconds 794 seconds

19

*Ferrari, Red Bull, AlphaTauri did not complete the representative long-distance run on the medium-sized car

Alfa Romeo emerges as high-profile surprise on chaotic Friday

Alfa Romeo emerges as high-profile surprise on chaotic Friday

Photography: Zack Mogg / motorsport pictures

Alfa Romeo’s performance in the long-term simulation was surprising, but the strong feedback from the drivers after the training session suggested that some of these performances were rooted in reality rather than being influenced by tire allocation restrictions.

“Our car seems to work well with this medium,” Valtteri Bottas said after the meeting. “That’s the only compound we use. Yes, today they work well with our car. Tomorrow we’ll also know what’s going on with the hard and soft. But at least today, the positive thing about the car is that it’s very stable overall, which helps to attack the corners on this kind of track. That’s why I think the lap times are not bad either.

“For me it seemed like we could be more competitive. It seemed like in the slower races the stability of the car was really good, there were only a couple of high-speed corners and the balance was actually okay. So I think the track might suit us a little bit better, but let’s see tomorrow.”

Alfa Romeo has been overtaken by Williams in the battle for seventh in the constructors’ championship and looks likely to pose a real threat to the British team at this stage. Of course, there will be some reversion to the average, but if the C43 drivers can make the most of this balance in qualifying, the Alfa will have a place at circuits where overtaking is particularly difficult.

McLaren’s pace also looks strong, although the team may have had some concerns about the MCL60’s overall performance in low-speed conditions. Still, Norris’ overall time was impressive, keeping comfortably low at 1:23 for half of his longest run, while Piastri averaged 1:23.640 over seven laps, two-tenths off his team-mate’s average lap time.

While Mercedes raced on a set of medium tires already used in race one, the sheen on those tires barely faded before Perez forced a red flag and the ensuing rain. Regardless, the tire didn’t hit absolute peak performance, which somewhat hampered its overall running schedule.

“Honestly, it doesn’t feel too bad,” George Russell said. “Obviously, our program is very different from the others because we’ve only been using one set of tires throughout. It’s also an old set from FP1. So, the lap times don’t really give a real picture of the performance and I’m sure tomorrow will be better. But we’re still focused on trying to improve.

Russell fell to the bottom of the schedule in the second practice, but the running plan largely dictated the outcome

Russell fell to the bottom of the schedule in the second practice, but the running plan largely dictated the outcome

Photography: Steven Tee/ motorsport pictures

“We always know we tend to get better as the weekend goes on, and that’s the right way to go. We learned some interesting things even in that one session, so let’s see what we can do tonight.”

Red Bull and Ferrari made some unrepresentative long runs on the soft tyres, but the top-placed team was slightly quicker in Verstappen’s nine-lap test. The Dutchman averaged 1.23.335 seconds, while Leclerc averaged 1.23.547 seconds and Carlos Sainz averaged 1.23.850 seconds.

The oft-maligned adjustment in qualifying is especially important in the tense and testing environment of the Hungaroring, as drivers have proven not particularly keen on the limited movement across stages. There is no doubt that Red Bull will be favorites for Sunday’s race. But if another team can capitalize on the chaos and beat Verstappen to pole, he will have more work to do to extend his current winning streak.

“When I put my helmet on and get in the car, it feels like I never really left” Daniel Ricardo

what did they say

Max Verstappen: “We’re going to look at the data and see if everything correlates well because we didn’t use a lot of tire sets today. With this new format you have a very limited set of tires and I wouldn’t want to use them today to at least be more and better prepared for tomorrow. We’ll have to see what we can do to improve this because we’re actually saving tires, which I don’t think is the right thing to do. But from our side the car feels fine. Still going strong.”

Lewis Hamilton: “It didn’t feel right. It felt like the car was at its worst today, but we’ll set it up tonight and hopefully tomorrow, usually like last year, it feels bad at first and then you turn it around with some setup changes. So we’re working on it tonight. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.”

Daniel Ricciardo: “I think location, maybe not very relevant at the moment. But I think what was more important to me today was basically feeling where I was in a car. It all felt familiar. I think obviously, there was a lot of outside attention. But once I put the helmet on and got in the car, it all felt like I never really left. So that’s fine. Obviously this morning, we didn’t really get anything, but this afternoon, I thought yeah, just a little bit on the new tires, but I really don’t have anything.” So honestly, it felt okay, a little bit of work tonight, but nothing crazy. “

Ricciardo in good form on first day back into F1

Ricciardo in good form on first day back into F1

Photography: Michael Potts/ motorsport pictures

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Vandoorne to drive Aston Martin F1 car in Pirelli tyre test at Spa

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Aston reserve driver Vandoorne will share driving duties with team principal Lance Stroll, while Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will each drive a day for McLaren.

It will be the Belgian’s first time driving an active F1 car on track since December 2020 when he represented Mercedes in Abu Dhabi testing.

While the Spa test will focus on Pirelli’s no-carpet tyres, it will give Vandoorne a valuable opportunity to sample the 2023 car, helping him correlate with Aston Martin’s simulator work.

If either Stroll or Fernando Alonso were unwell at any point for the rest of the season, his life would also be made easier.

The 31-year-old shared the Aston substitute with defending Formula Two champion Felipe Drugovich, and the two took turns on call.

Dubovic drove the AMR23 for two days during the Bahrain test in February, when Stroll was not present, and he had the opportunity to test drive the AMR23. Since then, the Brazilian has continued to rack up more miles in private testing of the 2021 car.

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Stoffel Vandoorne, Reserve Driver, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photography: Mark Sutton/ motorsport pictures

As well as his role at Aston, Vandoorne is one of McLaren’s backup drivers and his performance at Spa will also make it easier for him to step into the MCL60 should the need arise.

As well as giving him a general feel for downforce levels for 2023, the two cars share the Mercedes powerplant and thus have similar settings on their respective steering wheels.

Also read:

Vandoorne made his F1 debut for McLaren in Bahrain in 2016, replacing current Aston team-mate Alonso.

He then completed two full seasons in 2017 and 2018, the first with Honda power and the second with Renault. He finished 16th at the World Championships in both seasons, with a best finish of seventh.

He was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2018, but has since rebuilt his career in Formula E, winning the 2021-22 championship for Mercedes and serving as an F1 substitute.

He currently drives for the DS Penske Formula E team and is also a substitute for the Peugeot WEC team.

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McLaren “true contenders” for F1 best of the rest tag

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McLaren has only scored one point after three rounds in 2023 as it struggles to find the car competitive.

But both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri have seen plenty of upgrades in recent races, allowing the former to finish second in a row, while Piastri has finished in the top five in each of his past two races.

Despite being 136 points behind second-placed Mercedes in the constructors’ championship, Russell believes McLaren is a real threat for the remainder of the race behind leaders Red Bull.

“Obviously they’re a real contender for second fastest team,” Russell said of Woking.

“Oddly enough, Aston Martin was clearly second at the start of the year.

“And they don’t seem to be that competitive now. Ferrari haven’t made much progress. McLaren has made huge progress.

“So without McLaren we’d be very, very happy with the progress we’ve made. Leading the midfield, widening the gap and closing in on Red Bull.

“McLaren has just fully embraced it. But that makes you optimistic that bigger strides are possible.

“I believe in my team. I think it gives us the confidence and optimism to take this step towards Red Bull.

“We’re not too focused on McLaren, Aston or Ferrari. We’re focused on Red Bull. We’re trying to make that big step.”

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14

Photography: Steve Etherington/ motorsport pictures

Russell fought his way back from 18th on the grid at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, jumping to sixth at the checkered flag after Mercedes strategists told him 11th was his favorite.

Russell was pleased with the final result, but felt it was “proof” of a “missed opportunity” for Hungary.

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“The strategy tells me that if we maximize everything, the P11 is the most realistic, the P7 is the most realistic,” Russell told Autosport.

“Sixth place without a safety car, without a VSC, it’s a really great result.

“But it also proved that this weekend could be a missed opportunity. I believe I could have gone there with Lewis yesterday, it’s one of my favorite circuits and the car always does well here.

“When you have two cars out there, fighting for second gives you more options, and Lewis is also very strong. If things turned out a little differently, he would also be P2.

“So as a missed opportunity we will learn from it. But the positive side is we are leading Aston and Ferrari.”

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Top speed, car sizes, race weekends and more compared

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Formula 1 has relied on junior classes to develop the next generation of drivers, and its teams are eager to snag their brightest talent.

The ‘old’ Formula 2 car was a ruleset rather than its own separate entity, sometimes sharing the grid with F1, and later rule changes made the two cars separate championships.

The second class was renamed the F3000 in 1985 as the series switched to a naturally aspirated engine formula and extended the life of the earlier Cosworth DFV lineage. Throughout the life of the F3000, different engine and chassis suppliers came and went, with companies including Reynard, Lola, Ralt and March among them, all producing cars before the championship became a single specification.

When the F3000 championship began to fade due to declining team interest and declining track quality, the second level of racing was reborn in 2005. Bernie Ecclestone tried to bring the junior championship to F1’s bottom line and, along with Flavio Briatore and Bruno Michel, helped build the GP2 series.

GP2 became the FIA ​​Formula Two Championship in 2017, but many key hallmarks of GP2’s early series have stood the test of time. The GP3 series, a third-tier category designed to compete with the myriad Formula 3 championships around it, was added to the F1 Act in 2010 and became FIA ​​Formula 3 in 2019.

There are major differences in the way F2 is run compared to F1, there are subtle changes in form and there are big differences in the overall performance of the cars. The following are the key areas of comparison between F1 and F2.

F1 vs. F2 – key differences

car

Formula 1

Formula Two

top speed

220+ mph

208 mph

Minimum weight including driver

798 kg

788 kg

DRS?

Yes

Yes

engine size

1.6 liter V6

3.4 liter V6

Approximate Power

1,000 horsepower

620 hp

car size

5.63m x 2m x 0.95m

5.22m x 1.9m x 1.09m

tire size

18 inches

18 inches

game every weekend

One (two for sprint weekends)

Two (one sprint, one feature)

game length

305 km/190 miles

Sprint – 120 km/74.5 miles

Features – 170 km/105.6 miles

team

10

11

driver

20

twenty two

2023 Pole Times – Red Bull Ring

1 point 04.391

1 meter 14,643

2023 Pole Times – Monaco

1 meter 11.365

1 meter 21.053

2023 Pole Times – Silverstone

1 meter 26.720

1 meter 39,832

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Current single-spec F2 cars can be seen as simpler, smaller versions of F1 cars

Photography: Simon Galloway/ motorsport pictures

What is the difference between F1 and F2 racing?

In F1, each team designs its own chassis according to a set of well-defined technical regulations laid down by the FIA. For the 2022 ruleset, the FIA ​​has updated the wording of the rules to better define the bounding box within which bodies can be developed and build a system more in line with the proliferation of available CAD products.

It features a range of safety systems such as a roll cage, halo and anti-intrusion panels mounted around the monocoque. There are also anti-collision structures on the side, front and rear of the car to minimize the impact on the driver in the car.

F2 is a single-spec series with all teams using the Dallara F2 2018 model. The car and driver must weigh a minimum of 788kg and feature F1 standard safety features such as the aforementioned crash structures and halos. Use only parts supplied by Dallara, Hewland or sold by F2 promoters.

F2 cars use floor venturi tunnels, which F1 adopts in 2022, 40 years after banning ground-effect aerodynamics. These designs aren’t as extreme as those in F1, but they work on the same principle, and the car is also enhanced with front and rear wings to create downforce. Like F1, F2 cars are fitted with a Drag Reduction System (DRS), which operates on the same parameters as its parent series.

While F1 cars typically reach speeds in excess of 220 mph during a race, with DRS switched on, an F2 car could theoretically hit 208 mph at full low downforce.

What is the difference between F1 and F2 tires?

Pirelli supplies all championships on the official F1 ladder, and F2 and F3 also use the Italian company’s rubber.

F2 started using 18-inch tires in 2020, two years before entering F1. F2 tires are slightly narrower than F1 tires and generally have less grip because of the naturally lower speeds of the junior series cars.

There are four dry-weather tire compounds for the F2: hard, medium, soft and supersoft – with the first three using the same white, yellow and red color coding as the F1. Extra soft textures are indicated by purple text on the side walls. Each car is supplied with five sets of dry weather tires per wheel, consisting of two of the prescribed compounds, with a set of “premium” tires to be returned after practice. Three sets of wet tires are also available – the F2 has no intermediate compound.

Tire blankets are banned in F2, meaning drivers must warm up their tires naturally. This often creates a larger offset during the pit stops, with drivers leaving the pits vulnerable to those who have already completed laps in the new group.

The “primary” and “option” compounds (harder tires are the main tires and softer tires are the options) must be used during featured races, and pit stops are required to replace them. Tire parking is allowed during a sprint, but not mandatory. Since only two dry compounds are used each weekend, Pirelli and F2 decide which tire to use before the weekend. There may be a single step in the compound (for example, medium and soft), or there may be a larger step for greater excursions (for example, medium and extra soft).

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

620bhp Mecachrome F2 engine

Photography: Sutton Images

What is the difference between F1 and F2 powertrains?

F1 has used a turbo-hybrid system since 2014, with a turbocharger and a motor-generator set on the rear axle to form a hybrid package. The internal combustion engine is a 1.6-liter V6. By 2022, F1 engines run on E10 fuel, where 10% of the fuel composition consists of combustibles of biosourced origin.

The MGU-K in an F1 car can produce up to 160bhp for a total power output of around 1000bhp. Figures for F1’s current four powertrain manufacturers (Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Red Bull Powertrain) vary but are all believed to have efficiencies in excess of 50%.

F2’s single-spec powertrain is produced by French manufacturer Mecachrome, which briefly participated in F1 in 1998 and 1999, and took over Renault’s engine program. The Mecachrome unit was a 3.4-litre V6 engine, virtually the same one used in the F3, but with a modified turbocharger from Van der Lee. It produces around 620bhp and is driven by a six-speed Hewland gearbox.

To ensure fairness in powertrain supply, Mecachrome units are randomly assigned to teams, as there may be minor differences in overall power output.

F2 is currently being used as a test bed to assist F1 in developing more sustainable fuel, using Aramco-produced fuel with 55% of its content from sustainable bio-sources, with the aim of increasing this figure to 100% by 2026/27. The Saudi oil brand replaced longtime supplier Elf as the sole producer of the F2 fuel.

How much does F1 cost compared to F2?

In recent years, Formula 1 has been constrained by a cost cap of about $135 million through 2023, with some minor adjustments for inflation and other ancillary costs. The cost cap covers most development and operating costs, but excludes driver salaries, salaries of the team’s three highest-paid employees, travel costs and marketing expenses. As Red Bull found out in 2022, violating this cap carries a range of penalties depending on the extent of the overrun.

The bulk of this budget comes from the FIA’s prize money, investment and sponsorship mix. Some teams, such as Red Bull and Mercedes, are self-sufficient in terms of bonuses and sponsors and do not require direct input from their ownership structures.

F2 teams have much smaller budgets, and with the series’ fairly limited reach, teams will rarely start the season with a full sponsor portfolio ready to fund every race. As such, drivers should pay for their rides through their own sponsors or a driver academy.

Depending on the team, the budget of an F2 driver can vary from 2 million to 3 million euros, and can even exceed this budget to get a seat in a better team. To keep costs down, F2 limited the number of employees working on each car on race weekends and designed the cars to be relatively cheap. A team can buy a complete F2 car, without the engine, for around 500,000 euros.

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

George Russell, Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc are recent notable F2 graduates entering F1

Photography: Glenn Dunbar/ motorsport pictures

How do drivers get from F2 to F1?

To compete in F2, drivers must hold an A or B international FIA license. They cannot conduct private tests on F2 machines, only the group tests offered by the series. There are also restrictions on the single-seater cars that drivers can test in private, and if a driver is double-duty in another category, they must commit to racing in F2 in the event of any conflict.

Depending on a driver’s final standing at the end of the F2 season, they may receive Superlicense points to help qualify for F1. To obtain a super license to compete in F1, a driver needs to earn 40 points.

The distribution of Super License points is:

end of season position

SL points

first place

40

second place

40

third place

40

fourth place

30

the fifth place

20

sixth place

10

Number 7

8

number 8

6

No.9

4

No. 10

3

These can be applied cumulatively over the course of three seasons.

F1 VS F2 weekend format

F1 has been running in the same basic format for years, with FP1 and FP2 taking place on Fridays, each one hour long. FP3 races are also one hour long and take place on the Saturday before the three-stage qualifying format in place since 2006. F1 races must be at least 305 kilometers in length (excluding Monaco) and must not exceed two hours in duration, with a three-hour window if any red flags are raised.

However, sprint weekends are different and that changes for 2023. The only practice session kicked off with Friday’s race, followed by qualifying for Sunday’s Grand Prix. Sprint qualifying and the race are both held on Saturdays, with 2023 seeing six sprint weekends for added variety.

F2 has a practice session lasting 45 minutes on Friday, with a half-hour qualifying session later in the day. It’s effectively a time trial and drivers just need to maintain the fastest lap at the end of the race to secure pole for Sunday’s race.

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Many F1 teams have junior drivers in F2 teams

Photography: Red Bull Content Pool

The sprint race takes place on Saturday, using the same grid as qualifying, but with the top ten swapped. The number of laps “equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 120 km (100 km in Monaco)”, according to the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system, the score is finally dropped to eighth place, and the fastest lap points are awarded to the top 10 competitors.

The F2 weekend’s featured race “should be equal to the minimum number of complete laps over a distance of 170km (140km in Monaco, 160km in Budapest)”. It features mandatory pit stops where drivers must use both primary and optional compounds during the race. If a driver pits before completing the sixth lap, the mandatory stop does not count. This information is also not recorded if a driver stops under the Virtual Safety Car unless they are already in the pits when the VSC is triggered.

F2 attempted three weekend races in 2021, but the practice was generally unpopular and canceled for 2022 due to gaps left on the calendar. Prior to this, the main race was held on Saturday, and the starting position of the sprint race was determined by the results and the reversal of the top eight.

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