A special Grand Prix for Massa and Alonso Maranello, 28th July - This year, the Hungarian Grand Prix celebrates its quarter century, the first ever race dating back to 1986, all of them staged at the Hungaroring, outside Budapest. Scuderia...
A special Grand Prix for Massa and Alonso
Maranello, 28th July - This year, the Hungarian Grand Prix celebrates its quarter century, the first ever race dating back to 1986, all of them staged at the Hungaroring, outside Budapest. Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro has won here five times: three of those victories were also one-twos involving permutations of Schumacher and Barrichello. In addition, the Hungaroring witnessed the German clinch the title very early on in the 2001 season, while in 2004 the Scuderia secured that year's Constructors' trophy at this event, safe in the knowledge that one of its drivers was assured the Drivers' crown. But perhaps the Prancing Horse's most memorable Magyar victory was its first at this track, courtesy of Nigel Mansell in 1989. Conventional wisdom says that only a grid position in the front few rows can deliver the win at a track notorious for the difficulty in overtaking other cars. The Englishman had qualified in a poor twelfth place, complaining of traffic, but he was already up to eighth at the end of the opening lap. Pit stops and two passing moves had him running fifth and then fourth when team-mate Berger pitted. He caught the leaders, passing Prost for third. When the leader Patrese retired, Mansell was second behind Senna and as the two men came up to lap Johansson in the Onyx, the Brazilian hesitated for a fraction of a second and Mansell dived into the lead with a courageous pass to take the win.
This event has a special significance for both of Ferrari's current drivers: in the case of Felipe Massa, it will be his first visit to the circuit that ended his 2009 season, after he was seriously injured when hit by a spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn during Saturday's Q2. The Brazilian is planning to meet up with the doctors and track personnel who looked after him so well at the time and then he will be hoping for the sort of on-track form that saw him lead sixty laps of his last race here in 2008, before he was sidelined with an engine problem. As for Fernando Alonso, he has happier memories, having recorded his maiden F1 win here in 2003. He revisited the podium in 2004 when he finished third and last year, he started from pole position. Added to that, the Spaniard will celebrate his twenty ninth birthday this Thursday.
The track itself is usually popular with the drivers in terms of actually dealing with the interesting challenge of fourteen corners and such a short straight that there is little time to pause for breath, a problem compounded by the bumpy surface. However, on race day, the lack of any real straight, despite the stretch past the pits having been extended a few years ago, makes overtaking a rare commodity. This problem could well be compounded by the lack of strategic opportunities since refuelling was banned. With so many corners, the emphasis is on traction and also braking, given that a very short 4.381 kilometre track requires no less than 70 laps to complete a race distance, second only to Monaco's 78 on the current calendar.