Hungarian GP: Honda preview

Round eleven of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The 70-lap race is one of the most technically and physically demanding of the year, thanks to the twisting and ...

Round eleven of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The 70-lap race is one of the most technically and physically demanding of the year, thanks to the twisting and tortuous nature of the 4.381km (2.722-mile) Hungaroring.

Hungary has been a regular fixture on the F1 calendar since 1986, when more than 200,000 people turned up to see Nelson Piquet win the inaugural race in a Williams-Honda. Since then Honda has won at the Hungaroring on five further occasions, the most recent victory coming in 2006 when Jenson Button emerged victorious from the only wet race in the Hungarian Grand Prix's history. Rubens Barrichello has also his share of success at the track, having won the race for Ferrari in 2002.

The Honda Racing F1 Team heads to Hungary on the back of a successful four-day test session at Jerez last week, where various updates for the RA108 car were evaluated, along with the latest specification of Bridgestone's 2009 slick tyres.


Track temperature has a big influence on car set-up at the Hungaroring. If it's relatively cool, as was the case in 2006, the overriding handling characteristic of a car is understeer; if it's hot, it is oversteer. Invariably the weather has been hot during the race's 22-year history, so the engineers will arrive at the track this week expecting oversteer and will seek ways of protecting the rear tyres during the race.

If the ambient temperature exceeds 30 degrees, the track's lack of straights and low average speed could make cooling a concern. However, the high temperatures experienced during testing last week at Jerez, a track with a similar layout to the Hungaroring, provided useful cooling data ahead of the race weekend.

The middle sector of the lap from Turn 4 through to the exit of Turn 11 gives the best indication of a car's performance. The sector begins with a couple of slow corners, but ends with a very fast right-hander, which makes it hard to find a good balance. If a car is quick through this sector, you can expect it to be quick around the whole lap.

Full throttle: 56%
Brake wear: High
Downforce level: High - 9/10
Tyre compounds: Super Soft / Soft
Tyre usage: Medium
Average speed: 197kph (122mph)


Ross Brawn, Team Principal

Q. The team had an extensive test session at Jerez last week. Did you achieve your objectives?

"The team completed a very well executed four-day test in Jerez last week with an extensive programme of test items for the current season and looking ahead to the development of our 2009 car. In addition to running the final stage of our mid-season aerodynamic upgrade, we evaluated a new suspension system, brake and engine modifications and an evaluation of the 2009 slick tyres. The test went very well, with the full programme completed in punishingly hot conditions, therefore we are very satisfied. Our evaluation of the resulting data should have positive results for the performance of the RA108 in the forthcoming races and for the direction of the 2009 car."

Q. What challenges does the Hungaroring present for the cars?

"The Hungaroring is a low speed and high downforce track where we will face similar challenges to Monaco, albeit with a different layout and corner speeds. We frequently see high ambient temperatures during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend which, combined with a low average speed of 197kph, can make engine and brake cooling a challenge. The supersoft Bridgestone Potenza tyre is fastest here and it is important to maintain a balance to avoid graining and overheating. The track generates grip throughout the weekend, even during the race, therefore anticipating the best set-up for the conditions is key."

Jenson Button

Q. Do you enjoy returning to the Hungaroring after your first win there in 2006?

"The Hungarian Grand Prix will always be a special race for me as the venue of my first win in Formula One but obviously I would much prefer to be going back with the chance to challenge for the win again. The new parts which we tested in Jerez last week are a small step forward, so it will be interesting to see how this places us in the midfield pack for the race weekend.

"The Hungaroring circuit itself has a good rhythm and a nice mix of slow-speed and high-speed turns. A lap around the circuit is actually quite a challenge because there is no respite and no opportunity to relax your hands, so you are gripping the steering wheel hard the whole time. As a city, Budapest is fantastic and definitely one of the most exciting places that we visit during the Formula One season, with a great atmosphere during the Grand Prix weekend, both in the city and at the circuit."

Rubens Barrichello

Q. What are the challenges of the Hungaroring for the drivers?

"The Hungaroring is a pretty physical track which is twisty and bumpy with slow corners. It is very difficult to overtake so you have to start from the front to have a good race which makes having a good qualifying session on Saturday very important. The race can be incredibly hot so it is a tough challenge for the drivers. We have to be well prepared and you need that extra little bit of fitness to cope with the heat. Our test in Jerez last week was a good opportunity to acclimatise to such conditions, both for the drivers and for the car. I won at the Hungaroring in 2002 and have been on the podium a couple more times since then so I really enjoy returning to Budapest."

Honda in Hungary

Honda began operations in Hungary in 1994 since when it has developed a network of 31 car dealerships across the country. Car sales for Honda Hungary topped 4,900 units in 2007, which was an 18% increase on the previous year, despite the overall market dropping by 6%.

Honda also has 29 motorcycle dealerships in Hungary. Sales were 2,903 units last year and, new for 2008, Honda has started Safety Riding Training, through which it hopes to educate 1,500 customers.

New to

Recent additions to Honda Racing TV include a feature on the Honda Racing F1 Team's ISO14000 certification and a trailer for the forthcoming series of films from the Goodwood Festival of Speed. New this week will be a preview of the Hungarian Grand Prix and a look into the team's pitstop practice activity.

-credit: honda

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Rubens Barrichello , Ross Brawn , Nelson Piquet
Teams Ferrari , Williams , Honda Racing F1 Team