Following a three-week summer break the Formula 1 World Championship resumes in Hungary this weekend. The race, round 13 of 17, is the only grand prix to take place in Eastern Europe, with the 3.975-kilometre Hungaroring situated 20 kilometres ...
Following a three-week summer break the Formula 1 World Championship resumes in Hungary this weekend. The race, round 13 of 17, is the only grand prix to take place in Eastern Europe, with the 3.975-kilometre Hungaroring situated 20 kilometres outside the capital city of Budapest.
The Hungarian Grand Prix has been on the F1 calendar since 1986, when 200,000 people turned out to watch the country's inaugural international motor race. Since then it has remained a popular race with fans and drivers alike, despite lap speeds being just 25kph faster than at Monaco. The Panasonic Toyota Racing team tested at the Hungaroring last September with its TF101 test car, and both Allan McNish and Mika Salo.
The team's engineers still spent much of the three-week break doing simulations of the track in an effort to set-up the TF102s prior to arrival. Mika and Allan have been on holiday, Mika on his boat in the Mediterranean, Allan in Corsica. Last weekend both of them joined the team's doctor, Riccardo Ceccarelli, for an intensive training session in Viareggio, Italy.
"I was very pleased to get one car to the finish at the last race because, prior to that, we'd had a series of reliability problems. We have to finish races in order to learn how the car behaves in the different situations that a race throws up. Reliability will be another key factor in Hungary, where we can expect very hot conditions. This time I'd like to get both cars to the finish."
"The Hungaroring is a difficult circuit. It's like Monaco, but without the barriers to punish you if you make a mistake. It's very slow and has no overtaking opportunities, which means that the most important lap I will do during the weekend will be in qualifying because a good grid position is everything. The TF102 went well at Monaco, so on paper it might go well here too, but I don't want to make too many predictions."
"We tested here last year with the test car and I learnt several things. First, the track is all about downforce: you simply cannot have enough because all of the corners are slow. Second, you need a good traction control system because there are lots of brief squirts of acceleration from low speeds. Third, the track is very dusty, which writes off most of Friday practice while we wait for some rubber to get laid down. But, all these points make for a good challenge."
Lap of the Hungaroring with Mika Salo:
"It's great that we have a race in Hungary because there is a great atmosphere. The locals really get into the event - as do the Finns. There will be thousands of Finns packing the grandstands, so I'm expecting there to be quite a bit of support for me. The track itself is pretty slow and bumpy, but it's my job to make the most of it and I've done a lot of training to make sure that I'm ready to tackle the hot conditions. Budapest is a great city, with lots of history and some good restaurants so, in all, it's a race that I look forward to."