Formula 1 is set for a scorching and bone-dry 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix that will test drivers physically and teams strategically as Lewis Hamilton attempts to hold off Max Verstappen and score a record-breaking win.
Hamilton lines up on pole after he beat Verstappen by just 0.003s in a dramatic qualifying, and if he wins for a record ninth time at the Hungaroring it’ll be the first time he’s tasted victory since the 2021 Saudi Arabian GP nearly 600 days ago.
But Hamilton will need to race through heat of 30+ degrees Celsius to make history, while beating a rampant Red Bull that’s won every race of the 2023 season so far.
Behind the frontrunning pair, McLaren will hope to consolidate yet another podium and strong points haul while Ferrari, Aston Martin and Hamilton and Verstappen‘s teammates will hope to fight up the field into the top five at least.
It’s set to be 30 or 31 degrees at the 15:00 local time race start, with a 0% chance of rain over the circuit for the whole of Sunday.
That means teams will be battling tyre temperature for most of the grand prix – the C5 soft will likely be useless in the scorching heat – and Pirelli expect a two-stop including two stints on the hards as the fastest race strategy.
Things looked windy at the Hungaroring in FP3 and qualifying but on paper wind speed is set to remain well below double-figures, so that could be something that surprises teams as lights out ticks closer.
The searing heat could slightly play into Hamilton‘s hands as the best tyre-whisperer on the grid, but in truth it’ll be a challenge for all 20 drivers and tyre dropoff should hit hard when it comes.
Meanwhile Ferrari are already on the backfoot after being outdone by McLaren again on Saturday as Carlos Sainz starts 11th, and those temperatures spell more bad news for the Scureria.
Charles Leclerc lines up sixth but could spend most of the race looking in his rear-view mirrors rather than ahead at a top five that also includes surprise package Zhou Guanyu.