The Hungarian Grand Prix signals the start of the final third of the season and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro arrives at it on the wave of eleven wins for Michael Schumacher from twelve races. "It is an extraordinary achievement, especially when...
The Hungarian Grand Prix signals the start of the final third of the season and Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro arrives at it on the wave of eleven wins for Michael Schumacher from twelve races.
"It is an extraordinary achievement, especially when added to Rubens Barrichello's eleven consecutive points finishes, which only ended with a finish outside the top eight in Hockenheim three weeks ago," comments Ferrari Managing Director Jean Todt.
"These results have brought us close to our targets, but getting near the finish line is no reason to relax. There are still six races to go and therefore we will tackle this thirteenth round with the same motivation and concentration that we have shown to date."
Ferrari has won this event four times: once with Nigel Mansell in 1989, twice with Michael Schumacher (1998 and 2001) and once with Rubens Barrichello (2002.) However, the 2003 race in Budapest was one to forget for the Prancing Horse.
"Last year our team was not competitive enough here," is Todt's blunt assessment of that performance. "Michael finished eighth, one lap down on the winner, while Rubens was eliminated with a mechanical failure. This year, we have worked so hard, especially with Bridgestone, in order to come to Hungary, always characterised by very high temperatures, with a very competitive engine-car-tyre package."
"The modifications to the first corner introduced last year have increased the chances of overtaking, but the particularly twisty nature of the track means that qualifying well is still vitally important. The choice of the best strategy is therefore more important than at other venues in deciding the final outcome."
The difficulty in overtaking at the Hungaroring stems from the characteristics of the circuit. There is a relatively slow corner at the end of the main straight, which is normally ideal for passing another car. However, the corner leading onto that straight is quicker and this means that a following car cannot get close enough to the one in front, because of the turbulent air generated by the lead car, which reduces the front end downforce of the chasing car.
Another obstacle to overtaking comes from the fact that dust blows onto the track surface from the surrounding dry land and this means the track is very dirty off the racing line. Moving away from the ideal line in an attempt to pass leads the tyres to pick up a lot of dirt, thus affecting their performance for a couple of laps.
The Hungarian GP is usually characterised by very warm conditions and the highest temperatures experienced at a Grand Prix in Europe. So, although the slow nature of the track does not put too much strain on the engines which only spend around half the lap at maximum throttle, cooling has to be studied carefully.
Good fuel economy is another factor that can play a significant role, in terms of finding the right strategy, as the weight of the fuel has a greater effect on lap times than at most other circuits.
Finally, from a driver's point of view, the race here can be frustrating, because of the difficulty in passing and tiring, because of the heat and the fact the track surface is quite bumpy.