The 2020 Hungarian GP gave us no surprises. Lewis Hamilton dominated, the race, but as we know, the qualifying session plays a major role when racing at the Hungaroring. Where did all go right for Lewis and the Silver Arrows? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
The Hungaroring is perhaps the slowest track of the calendar. A twisty track with slow and medium corners means few overtaking opportunities. It is because of this that teams place high importance on the qualifying session for this particular GP. Lewis took pole and then had a fairly easy race.
I decided to analyze the qualifying session corner by corner to see why the Mercedes was so dominant against the rest of the teams. To do this, I got the telemetry for all the drivers from the qualifying session of the 2020 Hungarian GP. I filtered the data to obtain only the fastest lap done by each driver in the qualifying session. Then I did a spatial analysis to get information about the average speed of each driver done in each corner, as well as in non-corner sections of the track. The corners that I have selected are “extended” meaning that they may include more corner entry and/or exit information than the ones seen at other analyses.
The next step was to categorize the corners into low, medium, or high speed turns. This is a fairly subjective process since there is no hard rule that says that turns with more than X km/h are slow or fast. In his case, I decided to categorize corners with an average speed of less than 170 km/h as slow-speed corners, while turns with a speed of more than 170 km/h but less than 220 km/ were classified as medium-speed corners. Turns taken with an average speed of more than 220 km/h were finally selected to be the high-speed corners of the track.
To finalize, I created some charts that show visually the results that I obtained.
A couple of important notes here. First, the speed shown represents the speed over the whole corner, not just the speed at the apex. Second, this information is taken from the “telemetry” given by the Formula 1 Live Timing application. This is a HIGHLY experimental analysis. How accurate is the data that I’m analyzing? I’m not sure, to be honest. Take the results with a grain of salt ;).
Average speed in slow-speed corners
In the slow-speed corners category, we have a grand total of 6 turns. In this case, we will analyze the data obtained from T1, T2, T6, T7, T12 and T13. By the way, you can cycle through the pictures if you click on the right or left arrows that are displayed on the image.
Turn 1 (Average speed of 119.712 km/h)
In corner one, perhaps the most important corner during the race, Lewis Hamilton took the #1 position with an average speed of 122.5 km/h. Turn 1 is the slowest corner of the Hungaroring, and one that can be the difference between pole and a 3rd or 4th row placement.
The main surprise from T1 is the performance shown by George Russell in the FW43 built by Williams. The Britishman manage to get better performance from his car than drivers like Valtteri Bottas or Max Verstappen in much superior cars.
Turn 2 (Average speed of 146.426 km/h)
The second turn was once again dominated by a Mercedes driver, in this case Valtteri Bottas. The Scuderia had a good performance in the fastest slow speed corner of this analysis, with Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc taking the #2 and #3 positions of this ranking.
Daniel Ricciardo was a driver who failed to excel in the second turn of the Hungaroring. His average speed of 142.57 km/h among the slowest analysed, and was in fact slower than Kevin Magnussen’s and Nicholas Latifi’s average speeds.
Turn 6 (Average speed of 126.969 km/h) and 7 (Average speed of 145.221 km/h)
Turns 6 and 7 are taken sequentially and have a direct relationship with each other. A poor entrance in turn 6 could directly affect the speed taken in turn 7. Take turn 6 too fast, and perhaps turn 7 will be slower due to a poor corner exit.
In T6, Alex Albon and Max Verstappen both showed a good performance. The Thai-British driver was faster than Bottas and his teammate Max, while Max outpaced both Racing Point drivers and Lewis Hamilton. Sergio Perez failed to impress in this turn and was only faster than KMag.
T7 shows a completely different story. Alex Albon was one of the worst performers, ranking as the second slowest driver of this session in this section of the track. Bottas, Hamilton and Perez were the three fastest drivers in T7. It’s quite interesting to see how attacking T6 too hard caused a lack of speed in T7. A clear example of how the “slow in, fast out” mantra actually holds some juice in certain situations.
Turn 12 (Average speed of 136.280 km/h)
Another 1st pot taken by a Mercedes driver, in this case Valtteri Bottas. Ferrari also had a good showing, with both Vettel and Leclerc outpacing Lewis Hamilton.
Esteban Ocon from Renault had one of his best turns in this section of the track, while Carlos Sainz had a bad time here, outpacing only both Haas’ drivers.
Turns 13 (Average speed of 129.927 km/h)
One of the best corners by Red Bull. Both Alex Albon and Max Verstappen ranked in the top five spots (2nd and 5th place respectively). On the other hand, Charles Leclerc and Checo Perez and seemed to have struggled in this long, highly technical turn.
Average speed in medium-speed corners
According to my classification, there are 4 corners that can be categorized as medium-speed turns. These are T5, T8, T9, and T14. All of these corners have similar average speeds, with the slowest (T14) having an average speed of 172.134 km/hr and the fastest one (T8) a mean speed of 191.835 km/h.
Turn 5 (Average speed of 184.463 km/h)
We’re seeing a trend here. Both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton had a fantastic showing in T5, with Lance Stroll following closely behind.
Pierre Gasly from AlphaTauri deserves a special mention. Even while driving a car with mechanical problems, the Frenchman took fool advantage of this section of the track and managed to outpace Alex Albon and drivers like Ocon and Danny Ric.
Turn 8 (Average speed of 191.835 km/h)
In a surprising turn of events, Kimi Raikonnen ranked as the second fastest driver of the session in the fastest medium-speed corner of the track. Kimi struggled in most areas of the Hungaroring, but showed a rare glimpse of hope for Alfa Romeo in T8.
George Russell is another surprising inclusion in the top 5 drivers of the day. The young Williams driver outpaced Max Verstappen by less than 0.1 km/h, showing that Williams has found some speed in quali-trim.
Turn 9 (Average speed of 185.236 km/h)
After a strong turn 8, Kimi now ranked as the slowest driver of T9. Antonio Giovinazzi, the second-slowest driver in T8 now ranked as the 8th fastest driver in T9. This inverse relationship between T8 and T9 shows the importance of performing over the track as a whole, and not as individual parts.
As expected, Lewis completely dominated this corner, outpacing the second-fastest driver by more than 4 km per hour. Leclerc, Bottas and Sainz had similar performances, with their average speeds separated by only 0.2 km/h, with Perez and Vettel following ranking as the 5th and 6th fastest drivers of this section.
Turn 14 (Average speed of 172.134 km/h)
Valtteri Bottas was the fastest driver in the last turn of the Hungaroring. His average speed of 179.81 km/h was the fastest of the day by far, outpacing Vettel by over 2 km/h and Lewis by 3 km/h.
Another horrendous corner for teams like Alfa Romeo and Haas. It is hard to challenge for a good starting position when the car fails to get appropriate traction before the main straight.
Average speed in high-speed corners
In the high-speed turns section I grouped 4 turns (T3, T4, T10 and T11(. All of these corners have an average speed of at least 230 km/h, with the fastest turn of the track (T4) having and average speed of 251.766 km/h.
Turn 3 (Average speed of 230.459 km/h)
Both Racing Point drivers showed the speed of the newly and designed and controversial RP20. Racing Point have always excelled in the fast-speed corners, and their performance at the Hungaroring wasn’t an exception. Checo Perez ranked as the fastest driver in this turn, while Lance Stroll took the 4th fastest spot of the night.
Mercedes once again showed their speed, now in fast-speed corners, with Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas being considerably faster than both Red Bull and McLaren drivers.
Turn 4 (Average speed of 251.766 km/h)
Lance Stroll was the quickest driver in the fastest corner of the track. The Canadian had a marvelous performance in quali session and turn 4 was one of the main reasons why.
On the other hand, Renault struggled in this sector, with both Danny Ric and Esteban Ocon ranking as some of the slowest of the day. It’s hard to blame just the engine when the Renault-powered McLaren had a strong performance in this section of the track.
Turn 10 (Average speed of 239.821 km/h)
Sergio Perez once again ranked as the fastest driver in a corner, this time in T10. The Mexican driver didn’t have the best performance in slow-speed corners, but compensated by showing great speed in the high-speed turns. Lewis Hamilton was the second fastest driver in T10 with a mean speed of 244.25 km/h, followed by Carlos Sainz (243.05 km/h) and his teammate Valtteri Bottas (242.98 km/h).
Turn 11 (Average speed of 249.502 km/h)
The second fastest turn of the track was dominated once again by Mercedes-powered teams. Checo Perez (256.59 km/h) took the top spot of the day, followed by Bottas (256.15 km/h), Hamilton (254.99 km/h) and Stroll (254.27 km/h). On the other side of the spectrum we see once again teams like Alfa Romeo and Haas. Both of them had a horrid time in the twisty Hungaroring, so we’ll see how they perform in the much faster Silverstone circuit.
This was a highly experimental analysis that I have been wanting to do for a long time. While the results are not necessarily definitive, I feel they provide good insight into how the teams are performing in different conditions.
At the moment Mercedes looks unbeatable, excelling in all types of corners, with Racing Point looking fairly strong in all areas as well.
Red Bull failed to have an impact on a track that was supposedly favourable for them. While they had a much better performance during the race, they struggled to challenge Mercedes and even Racing Point in quali-trim.
Ferrari wasn’t horrendous in the quali session, with Vettel and Leclerc taking 5th and 6th position respectively. Both drivers had strong performances in T2 and T12 for example but were far off from the optimal speed in T10 and T6. To challenge for wins they will need to improve fast.
I hope that you have enjoyed this article. If you did, please share it with your friends and let me know what you think in the comments below.