Morning After: It’s the month of May all over again

Well, would you look at that, it’s the month of May all over again.

No, radio stations aren’t continuously blasting DJ Khaled’s “I’m the One”, and fidget spinners thankfully aren’t still a thing, but for the first time since Monaco, Ferrari are back on top in qualifying.

Then it was Kimi Raikkonen leading Sebastian Vettel, now it’s the other way around, but in both cases Ferrari proved decisively they had the goods.

Not only did Vettel’s 1:16.276 lead the closest Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas by 0.254s, but he did it despite failing to improve on his first Q3 run and were it not for a small mistake in his second run he could have finished in the 1:15’s.

With Lewis Hamilton conceding afterwards there was “no moment when we had a shot at pole”, it seems that for as much improvement as Mercedes have made, their short-track foibles remain.

Similarly, after their impressive running on Friday, Red Bull were caught out when the time came to turn up the power. Sometimes being the fastest is as much about a car’s strengths as its lack of weaknesses, and that certainly was the case on Saturday.

So far, so good for di Resta

Even at the best of times, driving a Formula 1 car is no easy task. With two hours notice? Well, that’s downright herculean. Filling in for the ill Felipe Massa, Paul di Resta somehow managed it.

Considering this was his first time in an F1 car since 2014 (fitted for a man 19 cm shorter no less), had no time to set it up, and had no experience with the physicality of the 2017 iterations and still beat another driver, while finishing a respectable 0.7s off his teammate. Truly, it cannot be understated how impressive he was on Saturday.

Assuming he doesn’t finish Sunday by crashing into the safety car, this weekend is already a victory for the Scot. Just finishing the race would be more than enough. However, it’s also worth noting that there is a sliver of an opportunity here too.

Given Massa’s return this season was largely predicated on Williams’ sponsor Martini requiring the team to run a senior driver, he may find himself back on a more permanent basis should the Brazilian bow-out at the end of this year. Surely a good showing in the race wouldn’t hurt his chances.

Quick Hits

  • Rightly or wrongly, Daniil Kvyat managed to collect another penalty point on Saturday. The man just seems to attract trouble.
  • Considering the 0.6s between the top-6, and the 0.6s separating them from the P7 Nico Hulkenberg, the blue flags could have a major role to play on Sunday. Forget their 1-2, the real battle at Ferrari is to see whether Raikkonen or Vettel radios to complain first.
  • Certainly P8 & 9 is a great result for McLaren, but don’t break out the champagne just yet. They always do well here, qualifying P7 & 8 last year, this being one of the few tracks where the Honda engine isn’t really tested.

Race Tyre-Strategy Preview, Courtesy of Pirelli

  • The theoretical quickest pit-stop strategies predicted by Pirelli are as follows:
  • One-stopper: 1 stint on supersoft for 33 laps + 1 stint on soft to the flag
  • Two-stopper: 1 stint on supersoft (23 laps) + 1 stint on soft (24 laps) + 1 stint on supersoft to the flag
  • While the two-stopper is very slightly faster, the second stop could feed into traffic and overtaking at the Hungaroring is quite difficult, so the one-stopper looks like the most effective strategy.
  • Different permutations of compound usage within each strategy are possible