Formula 1 is facing a step into the unknown in the Hungarian Grand Prix thanks to the baking hot temperatures and the new Pirelli tires, reckons Mercedes boss Ross Brawn.
With the weather forecasts predicting track temperatures will get close to 140 degrees, teams and drivers are going to have to work hard to ensure they do not hit trouble in the 70-lap race.
“It will be a hard afternoon for everybody,” explained Brawn. “There are predicted record temperatures, ambient and track, so it’s going to be a pretty challenging day.
“It’s also the first race with this tire construction and compounds for any of the teams. We’ve had a snapshot of the tires on Friday, and we will have to take it as it evolves in the race.
“Nobody has raced these tires so we don’t quite know what to expect, but there were a few optimistic signs on Friday. And if we get the balance right in the race then it is a different set of circumstances to earlier in the year.”
Pole position man Lewis Hamilton is extremely cautious about his chances of holding on at the front because of Mercedes’ ongoing race-day tire problems.
“We are in a much more difficult position where we don’t really understand these new tires,” he said. “We are already three days down on understanding these tires and a lot of information down compared to the others.
“We are still not fully understanding them or able to maximize their potential in the race conditions. Especially as it is hot here, it is going to be very tough.
“If we can get down into Turn 1 in the lead and try and keep them behind as long as possible we will definitely increase our chances of getting a high finish.”
TEMPERATURE TO DICTATE STRATEGY
Pirelli reckons that the high temperatures could cause enough degradation to push drivers towards a three-stop race.
Paul Hembery, the company’s motorsport director, said: “It will be more about degradation management. At the moment the simulation suggests either two or three stops, and it might push it on to a three-stop race.
“But we saw some people taking a different approach in qualifying so they can start on the medium tire, and maybe gain positions because it is hard to overtake.”
The expected hot conditions of the race are not just going to be a challenge for the tires. Other aspects of the car will also need looking after.
McLaren sporting director Sam Michael said: “You are definitely into managing engine cooling – with the water and oil temperatures.
“The only thing that will be OK are the brakes, as they don’t get affected by hot weather. They are already running at 1000C (1,832 degrees F) so an extra 20C (68F) of ambient will make no difference.”