The Team The FIA Formula One World Championship returns from a 3-week break this weekend to make its one and only visit to Eastern Europe for the 2002 Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest. Since the start of the season, F1's world tour has taken in...
The FIA Formula One World Championship returns from a 3-week break this weekend to make its one and only visit to Eastern Europe for the 2002 Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest. Since the start of the season, F1's world tour has taken in 11 rounds and 5 continents and Lucky Strike B.A.R Honda's 71 race team members have been on the road for some 98 days. The test team alone have clocked up 20 tests in 67 days and covered more than 25,000 testing kms. The August break provides a well-earned breather for B.A.R's trackside personnel and means they are able to attack the remaining five races and nine tests with renewed vigour.
Back in Brackley, B.A.R's HQ has been a hive of activity and with development work for 2003 now well underway, the factory-based team have been working overtime on next year's all-new car. At this stage of the season, the design programme really moves up a gear and it will be six and seven-day working weeks for them from now right through until the launch. At the same time, the team remain focused on the remainder of the 2002 season and boosting their current points tally.
B.A.R drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis arrive in Budapest refreshed after 3 weeks of rest and relaxation. Jacques spent some time with fiancee Elly around the Mediterranean, revelling in plenty of watersports - one of his favourite pastimes. Olivier enjoyed the sunshine back home in France with his family and also squeezed in a couple of personal appearances. First, he visited Alain Ducasse's restaurant in Monaco to learn the latest culinary techniques in French cuisine. Then he travelled to Munich to attend the ISPO sports clothing exhibition with team sponsor Brunotti, where the lifestyle sportswear company presented him with a wakeboard specially designed in the colours of his race helmet.
It's back to work this weekend but Jacques and Olivier are both fond of the magnificent capital city of Budapest. Its Hungaroring circuit has been the scene of some very enjoyable racing moments earlier in their respective F1 careers and both drivers finished in the points in their first three Hungarian Grands Prix. For Jacques, they were all podium places.
This weekend, B.A.R are confident that top-10 qualifying places are well within reach for both cars. Since overtaking opportunities are few and far between at this circuit, the team will be relying on a solid strategy and excellent pit work to maximise their chances of translating a positive grid position into a points finish.
David Richards, Team Principal
"The race team have enjoyed a well-earned rest and I'm sure we will see the benefit of that when we return to Hungary this weekend. The last two races ended disappointingly for B.A.R but, at the same time, we saw a significant step forward in terms of performance and, therefore, our potential for the rest of the season. A great deal of work has been taking place back at the factory over the last three weeks - and at Honda's R&D base in Tochigi - to ensure we maintain that momentum and are able to turn it into a points-scoring performance during the remaining five races."
Jacques Villeneuve on the Hungarian Grand Prix
"The Hungaroring is a tough circuit because the heat is so intense, so I've continued with my physical preparation over the last couple of weeks as well as enjoying the break. I went on holiday with Elly and my race engineer Jock Clear for a few days. We just chilled out and enjoyed the hot weather when I wasn't working with my trainer Erwin."
"I'm looking forward to the next race. It's a track I've won at so I have some great memories of Hungary. We had two DNFs in two races before the break so naturally we're looking for better things this weekend but of course the testing ban makes it difficult to fully prepare. It's difficult to overtake here; turn one is probably the only place where you have a realistic chance. The circuit is very tight and twisty and it's always really dirty because it's hardly ever used for the rest of the year."
"Budapest is a fantastic city and a great Grand Prix venue. I've always enjoyed racing there so I'm quite happy to be going."
Olivier Panis on the Hungarian Grand Prix
"I've had a very good break so I'm ready for the next five races. I spent a few days with my family at home and then we headed down to the South of France to spend some time by the sea, do some watersports and try out my new speedboat - all the things you don't get much time for during the rest of the season. It wasn't all rest though. I did some PR work and, of course, it's important to keep up the physical programme because the season is a long way from over and Hungary in particular is a very demanding race because of the heat and the nature of the circuit."
"I'm looking forward to getting back in the car though. It was disappointing not to finish in France and Germany but we saw excellent progress in those two races. I've finished in the points three times at the Hungaroring - 5th in '96 and 6th in '94 and '95 - and it's a track I feel very comfortable with. It's good fun to drive but there's very little chance of overtaking there. The track is always very dirty so you feel you're taking a big risk if you go offline. It's also quite bumpy so it's easy to make a mistake if you're not 100% focused."
"A good qualifying position is vital here but I think we can feel more confident now about a top-10 grid position - especially after Germany. Then you have to make your moves where you can in the race and do a good job in the pitlane - something the team are exceptionally good at."
Race Distance - 77 Laps. 190.190 miles (306.075 km)
Circuit Length - 2.470 miles (3.975 km)
Race Start - 14.00 local time (13.00 BST)
The Hungaroring has been a regular fixture on the GP calendar since 1986 when it became the first Formula One event to take place in Eastern Europe. The circuit layout has remained the same since 1989, when an unplanned kink around an underground spring was removed, shortening the track from 4.988 km to 3.975 km and in doing so making it the second shortest lap on the current F1 calendar.
Track conditions are always very dusty as the circuit sees very little action throughout the rest of the year. This not only leaves the track surface desperately short of grip, particularly offline, but also combines with the August heat to increase tyre wear. The dusty surface also discourages overtaking. Turn 1 is the only realistic passing place but the short length of the preceding straight makes even this more difficult, as does the slippery surface off the racing line.
The twisty layout also makes this the slowest circuit bar Monaco, and three corners - the Turn 2 and 13 hairpins, plus the Turn 6/7 chicane - are all 90 km/h turns. The fastest corner is the relatively modest 170 km/h left-hand kink at Turn 4.