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Summer break after the Hungaroring bumps

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Summer break after the Hungaroring bumps

2010 Hungarian GP preview For round twelve of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship the trucks of the Formula One teams have arrived at the Hungaroring in Hungary. The Hungarian circuit, which ...


2010 Hungarian GP preview

For round twelve of the FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) Formula One World Championship the trucks of the Formula One teams have arrived at the Hungaroring in Hungary. The Hungarian circuit, which is located 25 km of the Hungarian capital Budapest, will host its 25th Grand Prix since the circuit opened its doors in 1986. Because of its short, narrow, twisty and slippery track with high curbs the circuit is also known as the 'Mickey Mouse circuit'. It is the circuit where Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button scored their first victory, but they never won the race again. The circuit is also known because of its multiple winners: Michael Schumacher won four races, Ayrton Senna three, Mika Hakkinen, Lewis Hamilton, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve and Nelson Piquet won the event twice.

Hungaroring, bumpy circuit with high curbs.
Photo by xpb.cc.

During qualifying for last year's race, Ferrari driver Felipe Massa was hit by a spring which came loose from the Brawn car of compatriot Rubens Barrichello. The almost one kilo weighing spring bounced around the circuit until it hit the helmet of the unfortunate Massa, who was simply at the wrong time at the wrong place. The spring partially pieced his helmet and caused serious head injuries. Massa was examined at the circuit's medical center and later flown to a Budapest hospital where he underwent surgery on his multiple skull fractures.

He stayed in Budapest for one week before he was airlifted to a hospital in Sao Paulo in Brazil for further checks and tests. Although Massa made a speedy recovery, he was sidelined for the remainder of the 2009 season. Massa will visit the AEK Hospital in Budapest again this weekend. "They took good care of me and I want to say hello to everyone and enjoy a conversation with them.", the Brazilian said.

FIA stewards

The FIA has appointed four stewards who will make up the F1 Stewards Panel for the race in Hungary: Radovan Novak from the Czech Republic and Venezuelan Enzo Spano will represent the FIA, Ljos Herczeg will represent the hosting country Hungary, and ex-Formula One driver Derek Warwick will for the second time this year represent the drivers.

Warwick began his Formula One career in 1981 driving for the Toleman team. In 1984 he switched to Renault. He experienced two poor years, he became 7th and 14th in the championship, and decided to switch to Brabham, but again he ran out of luck, he did not score one single point during the 1986 season. After 1986 he drove for Arrows and Lotus before ending his career driving for the uncompetitive Footwork Mugen-Honda team in 1993. He participated in 162 races and scored 71 world championship points and his experience will be of great help for the FIA Stewards.

Not many upgrades for Hungary

Force India will be testing their version of the blown diffuser during Friday practice, and the team expects it will be a big step forward. Team principal Vijay Mallya, "We will analyze the findings and any data will be fed back into the program for the second half of the year. Similarly, we have some new developments on the front of the floor." The Indian admitted the pit stop mix-up in Germany ruined the chances of scoring points, but also described the mix-up as a once-off 'blip', and he expects his team to be in its usual form in Hungary.

McLaren experimented with the blown diffuser in Germany and will run the diffuser again this weekend. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh is confident it will be completely different in Hungary, "While we're under no illusions that our pace relative to our rivals was lacking at Hockenheim, the MP4-25 should perform better in a more dedicated high down force configuration. More encouragingly, we've now got one race with the blown diffuser under our belts, and this has already given us lots of data with which to take the concept forwards."

Sam Michael, WilliamsF1 Team, Technical director.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Williams has also a number of updates for Hungary, Technical Director Sam Michael, "During Friday's practice sessions, we will also be testing some new aero parts which we were unable to test in Germany because of the bad weather." Barrichello is optimistic ahead of the race, "We'll be looking to carry our present momentum on to Hungary. I am confident the speed is still with us, we will just need to work hard in Budapest to make sure we are at the front of the pack we are in."

Virgin Racing might introduce a blown diffuser later this season, after the team announced they would not run a F-Duct on their car this year. The team thinks it is not worth to dedicate resources and spend money on a gadget that only will be used in a few races, and will also be banned next year. But if the F-Duct is too expensive, the team will also be very reluctant to spend money on the new diffuser which also will be banned next year.

Red Bull had engine problems in Germany, Mark Webber's engine suffered from oil consumption problems because the oil supply from an auxiliary oil tank did not work, while Sebastian Vettel had problems during the Friday practice sessions and his engine was replaced after some anomalies were found after the team had tested oil samples. Vettel also had problems with his engine and clutch during the start. Team principal Christian Horner, "They were definitely not the best starts, it has happened to us several times this season."

Drivers will struggle to find the right car setup

Renault driver Robert Kubica expects it will be tough for the R30 on the short and twisty circuit, "It's a very difficult track to set the car up for because there are long corners where you need to have very good front grip, but on the other hand you need good rear stability. It's also difficult for setup because of the bumps and because there are lots of different kinds of corners, so you have to somehow concentrate on all areas of the setup and car balance.", the Pole said.

Ross Brawn is cautious about the performance of the Mercedes, "The team is doing a good job operationally but we need to find more pace from the car and we continue to work very hard to achieve this. Hungary is a technically demanding circuit and should be a good proving ground for our latest upgrades, providing further invaluable track testing time, as we work to find the optimum set-up."

Sakon Yamamoto will again replace Karun Chandhok at HRT, but reckons it will be a tough race for the Spanish team, "I know the circuit already very well from my Formula 1 races with Super Aguri, Spyker F1 and with ART in GP2 series. The races there are always very tough because there is no big gap between the corners. You need a good braking stability and good traction on the car. I keep on pushing for another challenge and I hope that we are luckier than in Hockenheim."

Flexing wings revisited

The flexing wing controversy is not at all new, as early as 2006 some teams had rear wings that flexed in such a way that they generated less down force on the straights at high speed, and 'flexed' back into the ideal position to generate enough down force needed to negotiate a slow corner. The flexing front wing flaps did the same: if the gap between the flap and the wing increases, the amount of down force increases, and vice versa. In 2006 Ferrari had to change their flexing front wings, and BMW-Sauber appeared to be breaking the rules after photos showed their rear wing was also flexible.

Flexing wing or fata morgana?.
Photo by xpb.cc.

The FIA reacted by banning flexing wings and body parts, as they were deemed as 'moveable aerodynamic devices', which are illegal in Formula One. Before the German Grand Prix rumors emerged Red Bull and Ferrari would be using flexing front wings. According to some rival teams photos showed that the wings of Red Bull and Ferrari were much closer to the ground than the wings of other teams, and asked the FIA to investigate the matter. The wings were examined prior to the race and again examined after the race. FIA Technical delegate Jo Bauer issued a statement after the race which confirmed the wings were within the regulations.

Other teams are now wondering how this new trick works. McLaren already stated they are struggling to explain the Red Bull flexing wing design. McLaren engineering director Paddy Lowe, "We believe, and we're not alone, that two cars - Ferrari and Red Bull - have wings existing at a much lower position than we're able to deliver. It is a phenomenon we're seeing. It may be entirely legitimate, it may not be. We don't understand it." McLaren and other teams are still convinced the low front wing can not be achieved by normal setup adjustments and are now also looking for alternative ways to lower their front wing.

Hungaroring - Hungary
Circuit length:4.381 km
Direction:Clockwise
Corners:14 turns: 8 right, 6 left
Longest straight:790 meters
Elevation difference:36 meters
Total number of race laps:70
Total race distance:306.630 km
Estimated top speed:300 km/h
Estimated top speed:195 km/h
Tyre wear:Medium
Tyre compounds:Medium/Super Soft
Brake wear:High
Downforce level:Medium to high
Lap record:M. Schumacher - Ferrari - 1:19.071 (2004)
Speed limits in the pit lane:60 km/h during practice sessions;
100 km/h during qualifying and race

Budapest - Hungary 3-day weather forecast
Friday:Cloudy with sunny intervals, rain in the evening, min 19C, max 26C
Saturday: Clouded, heavy rain showers, min 20C, max 26C
Sunday:Clouded, light rain showers, min 17C, max 28C

Pit stops and tyres

Expected pit stop schedule for the Hungaroring:
For 1 Stop - between laps 44-48
For 2 Stops - between laps 20-32 and 45-56
For 3 Stops - between laps 19-22, 35-39 and 53-57

Bridgestone tyre report

Bridgestone will bring the Medium and Super Soft tyre compounds to Hungary, a challenging circuit with a slippery track surface. Because the circuit isn't regularly used, the surface is quite dirty during the first free practice sessions and Bridgestone expects some graining of the tyres on Friday. There is also heavy rain forecasted for this weekend which could tyre-wise change the race into a lottery.

Hirohide Hamashima, "The ambient and track temperatures are often very hot here, but as the surface is quite smooth and there are no very high lateral forces we don't expect overheating to be too much of an issue if the tyres are managed well." About the overtaking opportunities he said, "Finding the maximum traction through the last corner is very important as it enables a good top speed on the short straight, leading into the first corner, where there is the main overtaking opportunity on the circuit."

Despite the difficult conditions, the Japanese tyre company doesn't expect any huge problems with the tyres, and expects drivers will make only one pit stop.

Team orders: Should the ban be banned?

It is true, team orders are as old as the sport itself, but the difference with the past and present is that there is currently a ban on team orders, Article 39.1 of the FIA Sporting Regulations, which makes it clear that there is no room for team orders in Formula One. Apart from the discussion whether the ban should be lifted or not, there should be no doubt about the fact that Ferrari breached the current regulations last weekend by ordering Massa to let Alonso pass him, which resulted in a $100,000 fine for the Italian team.

Todt and Montezemolo had some explaining to do in Austria 2002.
Photo by Ferrari Media Center.

The ban was initiated after the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix when Ferrari team principal Jean Todt, who is now interestingly enough the president of the sports governing body the FIA, said on the radio to Barrichello, who was leading the race, the by now famous words: "Let Michael pass for the championship". Barrichello did let Schumacher pass him, but just 50 meters before the finish line, thus the whole world could see how Barrichello thought about the team order. Both Ferrari drivers were booed away from the podium, and Ferrari had a lot of explaining to do, especially to the fans.

Three-times world champion and ex-Ferrari driver Niki Lauda thinks the fine is just 'peanuts' for Ferrari, "With the budgets these teams have, $100,000 is nothing at all. If you imagine they have bought themselves a world championship for that, it's the biggest joke of all." Red Bull's Horner about the Ferrari tactics, "I think that it's wrong, it's wrong for the sport; the drivers should have been allowed to race, Massa did the better job, he was in the lead."

However, many, including leading figures in Formula One, believe the ban is not realistic anymore and are now in favor of lifting the ban. It will be no surprise Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo believes teams should be free to run their business on track, "I believe what people do when they are inside the team and how they run their team is up to them. Of course, if a team does something that's dangerous then they're going to be in trouble. Otherwise, get on with it." Ex-Ferrari and now Mercedes technical director Brawn about the team orders, "I understand how F1 fans might be disappointed by what they have seen on Sunday. The rule that bans team orders is not realistic anymore. The teams and the FIA must find together a transparent solution that maintains the integrity of the competition and safeguards the sport."

The present situation is clear, there is a ban on team orders, and all teams will have to comply to the rules and during this weekend in Budapest teams will not be allowed to issue team orders, whether they like it or not. But there is that one question fans ask themselves ahead of the race in Hungary: What will happen when Massa is once again ahead of his team mate Alonso?

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