Jul 31 2010

F1: Hungaroring Qualifying

Well, I have to be up and take notes anyway since Richard and Emily are off attending a wedding in upstate New York (not that one).

Join me below the fold.

So to bring you up to date, we’re a little over halfway through the Formula One season and this week’s race in Hungary is the last one before a 4 week August layoff.

Yes, this is the same race where Filipe Massa got whacked in the head with a spring last year.

The main rule change of note this year is that they no longer re-fuel the cars during the race.  They still make pit stops to change tires, at least once under a rule requiring that they change compounds, but in fact 2 or 3 times as even the hard compound Bridgestones deteriorate pretty quick.

So far this year the Red Bull team has clearly had a faster car, dominating qualifying and starting on pole almost every race.  Unfortunately (if you root for Red Bull that is) due to mechanical failure and driving and strategy mistakes they are second in the Team standings and Vettle and Webber are 3rd and 4th in the Driver’s contest.

Did I mention they don’t like each other much?  They’ve collided at least once and 2 races ago Vettle wrecked his new aero package and the Team yanked the one Webber was using and gave it to him because they didn’t have any spares.

Now the team of love is Ferrari where last race Massa got Team Orders to stand aside for Alonso and dutifully waved 2 fingers at him (that’s how they flip you the bird in Europe you know) as he cruised by.  That cost the team a $100,000 penalty, but hey- it’s only money and it’s not like they ordered him to crash to bring out a Yellow like Renault did with Piquet.

I root for McLaren and Hamilton and while I really question some of the team’s race management, they’re leading the standings at the moment.

For this race they have a new bottom diffuser and they will be the only team (nope, 2 other teams including Williams) using the F Duct, a device that ‘spoils’ the air going over the rear wing reducing downforce and drag on straight ways.  Also the Hungaroring is thought to favor cars with downforce.

Not that it did them much good in practice yesterday where they were almost a second behind the Red Bulls.

Things to look for in qualifying are how fast the super soft tires deteriorate and whether there are any unexpected results (things like Schumacher failing to make Q2 again).  Desirable grid positions are odd numbered so it’s just about as good to be 3rd as 2nd.

It’s 3 rounds of knockout qualifying where they drop the slowest 7 in each of the first 2 rounds.  Weather does not appear to be a factor today.

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