2012 Season Round 9 Preview – Budapest, Hungary
Round 8 of the 2012 season was another frantic race weekend as Hockenheim saw more rain and a bold tyre choice from Johnny Cecotto to win the Feature Race and make an impression on the rest of the grid. On the Sunday, James Calado finally got his second win this season after two unlucky attempts in Valencia. The rookie is definitely showing the more experienced Luiz Razia, Davide Valsecchi, Esteban Gutiérrez and Giedo van der Garde that they should watch out for the talented and fearless Brit. The Championship is far from being over and both Razia and Valsecchi have had an off-race weekend in Germany allowing their closest rivals to claw their way up the standings.
One short week following the previous round in Germany, the GP2 Series paddock sets up camp in Budapest. The Hungaroring is well-known for its twisty and bumpy surface making every overtaking manoeuvre a real challenge. Adding to the high degree of degradation imposed with its constant sequence of corners and heavy traction and braking demands, is the ambient temperature that is often in excess of 30 degrees centigrade. These factors all mean that looking after the tyres will be a key element in securing victory, with the season delicately poised as it heads into the final part of the season. Just three race weekends remain after Hungary.
Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola said: “Hungary could become one of the most strategic races in GP2 so far this season, with plenty of time to be gained or lost depending on the tyre decisions that are made. With the wet conditions seen during the build-up to the races in Britain and Germany, the drivers have not yet had a chance to fully exploit the new tyre regulations. This weekend, they should finally get the opportunity. It will be vital for the teams to get a good understanding of the different performance and degradation characteristics of the supersoft and medium tyres in Hungary as soon as they can – although some may even choose to gamble and save the faster tyre for qualifying and the race. While the supersoft provides a notable degree of extra performance, we are expecting most teams to base their race strategies on the medium, which benefits from a lot more durability. If the teams use just one compound for the race, they may be able to get away with just changing the minimum of two tyres in the pits – rather than all four tyres, which would need to be changed if switching to a different compound. These are all factors that need to be carefully evaluated and considered, helping to make GP2 a perfect preparation for the pinnacle of the sport as well as a fascinating show for fans.”