Hungarian GP: BMW Sauber preview

It's going to be a tight squeeze in Hungary once again. The Hungaroring on the outskirts of Budapest is a twisty circuit, throwing up a similar challenge to Monaco in terms of demanding maximum downforce and razor-sharp concentration. Overtaking...

It's going to be a tight squeeze in Hungary once again. The Hungaroring on the outskirts of Budapest is a twisty circuit, throwing up a similar challenge to Monaco in terms of demanding maximum downforce and razor-sharp concentration. Overtaking is tricky, and the Grand Prix has frequently panned out as a procession through the dusty Hungarian plain. The rain-sodden event of 2006, by contrast, entered the F1 annals as a nailbiting thriller.

Ahead of the 11th of this season's 18 races, the BMW Sauber F1 Team remains in second place in the Constructors' Championship. Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld will be heading for Budapest fuelled with ambition. In the past both have demonstrated how well the track suits them. After Heidfeld relished the attendance of numerous fans in Hockenheim, it is now Kubica's turn to welcome the hordes of "pilgrims" who will be flocking to the Hungarian capital from nearby Poland.

Nick Heidfeld:

"I've always coped very well on the Hungaroring. The track suits me, and in the short history of our team I took a podium place there in 2006 and 2007. In 2006 it was the first podium for our team at the end of an unbelievably wet race. In 2007 I started second and finished third again. I also have a lot of positive memories of the Hungaroring going back to previous occasions. In 1999 I took an early Formula 3000 title there and was able to celebrate. The city is beautiful. I just love the historic buildings and its setting on the river. Budapest has lots of charm, especially when the weather is really summery.

"If it's dry the circuit gets very dusty particularly at the start of the weekend. Racing there is exhausting because there aren't any long straights where you can sit back and relax a little bit. I'm looking forward to the Hungarian Grand Prix and hope we will perform as strongly again as we have done in the last two years."

Robert Kubica:

"For sure we can expect a lot of Polish fans in Budapest. The Hungarian Grand Prix is the closest race to my home country, so in some way it is my home race. The Hungaroring is the track where I had my first Formula One race in 2006. As a driver you always have a special relationship with the track where you had your first Grand Prix. However, it is not for these reasons alone that I like this track. For most of the lap you have some steering angle, which means you rarely get a break, and this is made worse by the fact the straights are very short. The Hungaroring is a difficult track, but then Formula One is about challenges."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:

"In the last two years, the Hungarian Grand Prix was a very exciting affair for us. In 2006 the weather turned the race into a cliffhanger, and in 2007 an offensive strategy really put us on our mettle but rewarded us with a podium place. For 2008 the goal is to make it onto the Budapest podium for the third consecutive time. Our pledge is to get both cars firmly into the top ten qualifiers and take home another decent points haul from the race.

"The Hungaroring makes huge demands on the cars' aerodynamics and brakes. At 58 per cent, the full-throttle percentage is at the lower end. However, temperatures could become critical for the powertrain. It's generally hot in Budapest in August, and the heat tends to build up in the dust bowl of the circuit. Plus the low average speed does its bit to drive cooling systems to the limits."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director:

"After Monaco, the Hungaroring is the track with the lowest average speed. Especially in the middle section of the track, it's just one turn after another, and the start-finish straight is relatively short. That calls for maximum downforce. Overtaking is very difficult, and you have to take that into consideration in your race strategy. The track accumulates fresh sand every day, so grip levels are accordingly low, which can lead to understeer. In Hungary we use the softest tyre compounds. When it comes to the car's set-up, you have to focus primarily on the middle section, which consists of a variety of corner combinations and the very tight final turns before the start-finish straight, which require good traction. The track layout and frequent high air temperatures mean the cars have to drive with maximum cooling."

History and background:

This year sees the 23rd Hungarian GP, all of which have taken place on the Hungaroring. Since its introduction in 1986, the circuit has been repeatedly modified, most recently for the 2003 GP when the course was extended from 3.975 to 4.381 kilometres. The current variant is the longest there has ever been. Even the first track (1986 to 1988) only covered a distance of 4.014 kilometres. The Hungaroring lies approximately 20 minutes' drive northeast of the city centre.

Budapest is Hungary's capital, its largest city and the economic and cultural hub of the country. Its population now numbers almost 1.7 million. It was primarily the trade route of the Danube, as well as numerous local hot springs, that accounted for the city's rise to prosperity. In 1873 the formerly independent cities of Buda, Pest and Obuda were united. The chain bridge (built 1839-49) linking hilly Buda on the west with the flat terrain of Pest on the eastern bank is as much a trademark of the city as the baroque royal palace on the Buda side.

-credit: bmw sauber

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Nick Heidfeld , Robert Kubica , Mario Theissen
Teams Sauber