Following a three-week summer break, the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team will be back in action next weekend in Budapest at the Hungarian Grand Prix, round 13 of the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship. With the circuit remaining unused for...
Following a three-week summer break, the Lucky Strike B*A*R Honda team will be back in action next weekend in Budapest at the Hungarian Grand Prix, round 13 of the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship.
With the circuit remaining unused for the majority of the season, the track starts off with very little grip but improves considerably through the weekend. However, off the racing line, the circuit remains very dusty, which makes overtaking extremely difficult. A particularly slow and tight circuit, the Hungaroring has previously offered drivers little chance for overtaking, although it is hoped with the altered layout this year, passing opportunities will be increased.
The team will bring bespoke B*A*R Honda 005's to the race, designed to cope with the difficult track conditions. This will include a high downforce and high cooling aerodynamic package. The team will also make the most of new developments from Bridgestone in a race notoriously tough on tyres.
The race last year brought little joy for B*A*R, with both Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis retiring from the race. The team are optimistic for a better result in 2003 with Jacques and Jenson Button. Jacques has enjoyed victory twice in Hungary, while Jenson will be looking to replicate the form he showed during Thursday qualifying at Monaco earlier this year. Jenson posted the third fastest time on a track with very similar characteristics to the Hungarian circuit.
"I enjoy the Hungary race, the general atmosphere is nice. The people get excited about the race and it's quite a happening city. It's always been fun racing here. It's a strange track because it doesn't really have straight lines, it turns all the time, which normally is not a good thing, but somehow the layout is actually fun and it has a good rhythm. The track is changing a bit this year so I don't know exactly what to expect, but previously the chicane is the one corner that just shouldn't be there. The rest of the track is quite nice. I don't know how much the changes will affect the ability to overtake. This year's car is a lot more stable than last year and Hungary was always a difficult track to get a balance at, so hopefully the car will suit the track characteristics a little more. The heat will affect the tyre wear - the hotter it is, the harder it is on the drivers, the tyres and the engine. However, I train hard, so the hotter it is, the happier I am.!
"Hungary is never really a place I've enjoyed racing because it's a very tight, twisty circuit, which is not my favourite. I prefer faster circuits where you can overtake. But hopefully this year, with the changes they have made, there will be some improvement. Aside from that, it's a nice race - the fans are really cool and quite excitable so there's usually a good atmosphere. It's going to be another hot race, but I don't suffer too badly in the heat because of the amount of training I do. Our car seems to be better on high-speed corners, circuits like Silverstone and Barcelona, whereas on low speed circuits I don't think it's at its best. However we've made some changes so hopefully there will be an improvement and I am feeling very positive after the points-scoring finishes in Silverstone and Hockenheim. Hungaroring is very tough on tyres, you normally get quite a lot of blistering so we have to put a lot of thought into tyre choice for this race in order to make the most of the conditions."
David Richards, Team Principal:
"Since the upgrade at Silverstone, both cars have finished the last two races, Jenson in the points on both occasions. This is good progress for the team, as we are showing that not only have we accomplished a step up in performance, but also that we have a solid, reliable car. Hungary is an important event for Honda and I am sure that they will be looking to us for a good result in order to celebrate their 250th Grand Prix."
Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director:
"The Hungarian race is the highest downforce race on the calendar, even more so than Monaco. Although modified since last year, it retains the previous characteristics with its continuous sequence of low and medium speed turns. It is difficult to find a good balance for the car on this track since it changes performance dramatically throughout the weekend as more rubber is laid down. It is also one of the harder circuits on which to overtake, partly because of its layout and partly because the circuit is always very dusty off-line. Qualifying position will be particularly important here so teams will be considering two or three stop race plans. Conditions are very often extremely hot and tough for engines and drivers alike. B*A*R, like many others teams, will be bringing a specific high downforce and high cooling aero package to Hungary. Tyres will play a major part at this race, where track temperatures can be extremely high and degradation is significant."
Shuhei Nakamoto, Engineering Director, Honda Racing Development:
"Our guys on the race team have enjoyed a short break, but the development work has continued back in Japan, where we have been analysing areas for improvement on the entire package. We're hungrier than ever for points and are feeling positive going into the last four races of the season."