Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton finally agree on something

An alternative tyre allocation has been trialled at the Hungarian Grand Prix, as Formula 1 bids for a sustainable future.

As the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend kicks off, Formula 1’s new tyre format, known as the Alternative Tyre Allocation (ATA), is facing criticism from drivers, including seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton. 

Introduced as an experiment to reduce the number of tyres used during a grand prix weekend for sustainability reasons, the ATA has drawn mixed reactions from the drivers, who have expressed concerns about its impact on practice sessions and fan engagement.

Under the ATA rules, each driver is allotted only 11 sets of slick tyres in Budapest, two fewer than the standard allocation of 13 for a traditional weekend. 

Qualifying mandates specific tyre usage, with drivers required to use the hard compound in Q1, medium in Q2, and softs for the top-10 shootout in Q3.

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Hamilton, known for his passion for the sport and engaging with fans, criticised the format tweak, pointing out that it results in less running during practice, which he believes is detrimental to the fans’ experience. 

He stated, “We only had one tyre that we were going to use this session. 

“Not really a great format this change that they made for this weekend, it just means we get less running. 

“Not ideal, and there’s a lot of wet tyres I think they throw away after every weekend, like a lot, maybe they should look at something like that rather than taking time on track away from the fans.”

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Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing echoed Hamilton’s sentiments, expressing his discontent with the limited tyre usage in the new format. 

“With this new format, you are super limited with the tyres you can use, and I didn’t want to use them today to at least have better preparation tomorrow. 

“It’s a shame. 

“There are so many people around, and you basically don’t run a lot, so we will have to see what we can do to improve that. 

“We are literally just saving tyres which I think is not the correct thing.”

Meanwhile, McLaren’s Lando Norris admitted feeling confused by the changes but acknowledged that rain-affected FP1 had provided some respite. 

“I think we were lucky it rained; otherwise, pretty much no one would have done anything in P1. It’s complicated, it’s confusing to me even,” he explained. 

His teammate Oscar Piastri added, “It’s tricky. 

“You’re trying to use as little amount of tyres as possible while learning as much as you can. 

“It’s never that fun when you have one or two sets of tyres for a whole Friday, but it’s a new challenge for us all.”

Amidst the criticisms, Charles Leclerc of Ferrari highlighted a potential positive aspect of the ATA format. 

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He mentioned that the unpredictability of the new tyre allocation could make qualifying more exciting, as drivers would head into the session without a clear understanding of their performance. 

“Very difficult to read into today’s free practice, I think it’s something we expected being the first weekend on this format with this tyre allocation,” said Leclerc. 

“Everybody’s trying different things, but it’s nice because I think we will go into qualifying not really knowing where we are, and I’m sure that’s exciting, but the feeling was pretty good, so this is positive.”