Hungarian GP: McLaren preview

Team McLaren Mercedes arrive in Eastern Europe this week looking to build on the podium secured by Kimi in Germany at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix. The Hungaroring plays host to the event and is located approximately 20km north of Budapest, the...

Team McLaren Mercedes arrive in Eastern Europe this week looking to build on the podium secured by Kimi in Germany at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix. The Hungaroring plays host to the event and is located approximately 20km north of Budapest, the circuit is set in a natural valley surrounded by rolling countryside.

The race marks Kimi Raikkonen’s 100th Grand Prix start and is also the one year anniversary of Team McLaren Mercedes’ Partnership with Johnnie Walker. To celebrate these milestones, Johnnie Walker is hosting an event for the media on the Saturday of the Grand Prix at the Hungaroring and on Sunday a commemorative helmet will be revealed that Kimi will wear for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The race helmet will have gold leaf incorporated into the design, alluding to the current centenary year of Johnnie Walker Gold. Kimi will also be presented with a pair of unique racing boots by Johnnie Walker to mark the event.

The race was introduced in 1986 at the modern facility which was built with Formula 1 in mind. Since the inaugural race, McLaren has won the event six times, the first of which was in 1988 with Ayrton Senna at the wheel. Recent years have seen success for the Team McLaren Mercedes team at the Hungaroring, with Mika Hakkinen securing two consecutive victories in 1999 and 2000 with David Coulthard also achieving podium finishes in both years. Last year, Kimi took a dominant victory for the team, having started the race from fourth position.

The Hungarian Grand Prix is the second slowest race on the Formula One calendar. In the first race in 1986, drivers were shown the chequered flag one lap earlier than planned because the two-hour limit had been reached, even though there hadn’t been a drop of rain.

Kimi Raikkonen:

“The MP4-21 was definitely quicker in Germany than the previous race, and it had great balance. We have made a step forward and I am looking forward to getting back out on track again this weekend and racing for another podium finish. At the Hungaroring, the main factor is downforce, we don’t need to worry about aero efficiency or drag. This is as a result of all the slow, tight corners, and you will see all the cars running with maximum wing."

"Overtaking here is tricky, nevertheless I passed two cars on the first lap last year. It is a bit better since they modified the first corner, but qualifying is very important, perhaps more so than at any other race apart from Monaco. Along with Monaco the Hungaroring is the most demanding in terms of engine cooling, as there are no real straights and the temperature is always so high. So we will run with bigger radiators and apertures to increase the cooling within the car."

"The race has in the past been affected by the dusty track surface however they now have a truck that cleans up the dust beforehand so track conditions are more constant over the weekend, which makes set-up less tricky. The Hungarian race is like a home Grand Prix for me so I am always really looking forward to it, we get all the crazy Finnish fans that come down to watch the racing and I hope I can put in a great result for them. The car ran well in Monaco, so we will see. ”

Pedro de la Rosa:

“Of course for me it was a disappointing end to the race at Hockenheim, but the car felt really good and with the strategy I was running we could have been just behind Kimi at the end of the race. We get to race again already this weekend and hopefully I will be able to make the most of the pace we have found with the package."

"The Hungaroring is characterised by slow, tight, twisty corners and it is also fairly short. As a result, it feels a lot like a karting track. With all the cornering and constant gear changing in the hot temperatures you have in Hungary at this time of year, it is a race of endurance, but all the testing of late has been in similar conditions so it will not be a problem physically."

"The constant cornering also places a demand on the tyres, as this generates high temperatures, and this combined with the extreme track temperature has the potential to lead to issues with blistering. In addition there are a number of long duration corners that tend to put a lot of load on the rear."

"We have been working with Michelin for this race over the past couple of tests, evaluating a range of compounds on track temperatures of over 50 degrees centigrade. We completed our programme with Michelin and are comfortable with the tyres we will have available to select from.”

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes:

“The feedback from the drivers over the course of the Mobil 1 German Grand Prix and the pace in the car that led to Kimi’s podium demonstrates that we are moving in the right direction with the MP4-21."

"Hungary presents the team with a number of challenges, similar to those on the streets of Monaco such as cooling, high downforce, tyre degradation. One effect of these is that the car weight / fuel load is more significant on lap time than at the last three circuits. We see this weight effect at the Hungaroring because of the proportion of time spent cornering. This combined with the short pit lane certainly makes a three stop strategy more attractive for the event."

"After this race Formula 1 enters a well deserved three week break prior to the Turkish Grand Prix at the end of August. Whilst this provides our race and test team with the opportunity to recharge batteries and spend time with their families, work will continue intensively in Woking, Brixworth and Stuttgart as we push forward with developing the 21.”

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

“The Hungaroring has always been a special race for us and we have fond memories of our victory last year. Almost every year, the race in Hungary is one of the hottest with regard to the temperatures, on race day last August we had an ambient temperature of 36 degrees and a track temperature of almost 49 degrees. Chassis, cooling, tyres, engine and of course the drivers are often put to the most extreme test."

"Qualifying and strategy will be particularly important here, because during the race there are almost no overtaking opportunities on the track, like in Monaco; however, as shown in Hockenheim, overtaking happens if an opponent suffers from tyre problems and the other driver copes better with the situation. With regards the track layout, there is a comparable characteristic with Monaco; there we were in good shape and it is our target to continue our positive trend in Hungary.”


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Pedro de la Rosa , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Kimi Raikkonen , Norbert Haug , Ayrton Senna , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Mercedes , McLaren