The Hungarian Grand Prix will be the final event before the F1 fraternity takes its annual summer break. Held at the Hungaroring outside the vibrant Hungarian capital Budapest, it’s a popular event on the calendar, but one that still requires some serious concentration. The twisty 4.381km circuit is often compared to a kart track, with one slow speed corner leading into another in very quick succession. This sinuous nature gives rise to the second lowest average speed over a lap (after Monaco), so engine engineers work to deliver good low speed torque response and driveability.

Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus F1 Team
Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus F1 Team

Photo by: xpb.cc

Renault engines have historically performed well at the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Williams-Renault package won the race five times in the 1990s, with Fernando Alonso taking the Renault F1 Team’s first-ever victory in 2003. Mark Webber won for Red Bull Racing in 2010. This year’s race also marks the 20th anniversary of the first Williams-Renault championship success; Nigel Mansell secured his first drivers’ title in 1992.

Hungarian GP engine facts and figures

Power sensitivity and outright engine power is not a major concern at the Hungaroring as the race has one of the slowest average speeds on the calendar, just 182kph. In fact the start-finish straight and the 790m straight between turns three and four are the only parts of the track where the engine is used at maximum revs. Only 55% of the lap is taken at full throttle, very similar to Singapore.

Average temperatures over the past years have been around the 26°C mark, putting an emphasis on efficient cooling solutions. These high ambient temperatures are compounded by the point-squirt nature of the track, where the engine has little time to ‘breathe’.

Sector two is the twistiest part of the track as cars will not reach any more than 245kph as they negotiate mainly third gear corners. All the corners seem to link together — turn five is a radial corner and patience on the throttle is rewarded as there are lots of bumps that upset the balance of the car.

The Hungaroring is set in a very dusty amphitheatre and the levels of airborne dust and sand will be very high. The particles will be very abrasive for the engine internals, but the high grade filter developed by Renault, which is based on desert rallying filters, should avoid any undue wear and tear. Pastor Maldonado, Williams F1 Team

You need to concentrate very hard at the Hungaroring as the corners flow into each other, particularly in the second and third sectors. You never feel like you reach a very high speed as you are always turning into another corner, but you do need to know that the engine can deliver good power when you need it as this is where a lot of lap time can be found.

Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations

After one of the quicker circuits on the calendar we go to one of the slowest. The slow speed corners and the lack of straights means delivering top end power is not the aim this weekend. Instead we work to deliver good low speed torque to improve grip on the throttle and rear stability under braking. Gear ratios will therefore be very short to give greater acceleration.

The start-stop nature of the track makes fuel consumption per kilometre very high and the starting fuel load will be correspondingly heavy. This year the tyre wear has a very marked effect on fuel consumption so this is something we will try to watch very carefully towards the end of the race to avoid finishing with too much fuel, or too little. The nature of the corners here can also be quite different, the drivers sometimes holding constant throttle as they cross the apex, as opposed to the more standard ‘brake, turn and go’. This provides a good test for the associated transient fuelling strategies.

It’s typically very hot at this time of year — although this season the rain has been following us! The low speed compounds the high ambient temperatures, placing an emphasis on effective cooling. Unfortunately the high downforce settings required for this track do not afford us the luxury of additional air inlets to cool the engine so we carefully prepare the Hungaroring in the dynos back at Viry, working specifically over the low revs in high ambient conditions. Once the race is underway, there is little that can be done to manage the coolant temperatures so it will be important to get a good handle of the cooling on Friday.

It’s actually quite a challenge to get this track right, so it’s not exactly a quiet end to the first part of the season!

Source: Renault Sport