Hungarian GP: McLaren preview

The Hungaroring hosts round 11 of the Formula 1 World Championship this coming weekend, with the weather again expected to have an influence on the race. The Hungarian Grand Prix is traditionally very hot and South East Europe is currently in the...

The Hungaroring hosts round 11 of the Formula 1 World Championship this coming weekend, with the weather again expected to have an influence on the race. The Hungarian Grand Prix is traditionally very hot and South East Europe is currently in the middle of a summer heatwave. The track had never experienced a wet race until last year, when Pedro de la Rosa took his first podium at the wheel of a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-21; however the above average temperatures are leading to widespread and unpredictable thunderstorms across the continent.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes will travel to Hungary over the next few days as the team prepares for the race, which takes place less than 20km from the centre of Budapest. The team leads the Constructors' Championship with a total of 138 points, 27 points ahead of the nearest competitor. Lewis Hamilton has a total of 70 points, with the winner of the European Grand Prix, Fernando, only two behind with 68.

FAST FACTS

What are the main characteristics of the circuit?

Hungary is one of the most technical and demanding circuits, despite being the second slowest of the season. The track is made up of tight and complicated turns, with little opportunity for the drivers to overtake. Turn one provides the best chance, with others having difficult bumps, cambers or being too tight. For example turn four is a sharp, blind uphill right-hander, which despite seeing attempts overtaking tests driving technique.

Is high downforce the most important factor at the Hungaroring?

High downforce is the main influence as the priority is to be fast through the technical turns that make up the majority of the circuit. It is vital that the performance is concentrated on cornering rather than achieving high speeds.

Why is qualifying key?

Qualifying is key due to the limited opportunities to pass on the track, with turn one providing the only genuine opportunity for the driver to overtake their opponent. It is important to therefore obtain a good position for the starting grid.

How have the drivers and team fared at the Hungaroring in previous years?

The track was the location of Fernando's first win in Formula 1; he became the youngest driver to win a World Championship Grand Prix less than a month after his 22nd birthday at the 2003 race. Lewis's only appearance at the track was in the 2006 GP2 race, which as with the Grand Prix was rain affected. Lewis took a podium in the sprint race, having finished in 10th in the feature race. In the past the team has also seen success at the event, with wins from past drivers such as Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen.

Fernando Alonso:

"It was great to take the win in Germany and I hope to achieve the same result in Hungary. I have some good memories from this track, as I took my first Formula 1 victory in Hungary; however last year was not so good! It was a challenging race, with the time penalty that meant I started in 15th, making it up to take the lead and then dropping out. Despite this the track will always be special to me."

"I usually enjoy the race so am looking forward to racing there this year with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. It is a very slow track but also tough physically because of the conditions, which are usually very hot. Also, because of all the corners, it is constant fighting with the steering wheel and you have to have great traction for the exit phase of the corners, which is where we can find the speed."

"A stable front end is also very important so the car feels completely under control in the slow, long corners and you can really push the car despite the slower speeds. The MP4-22 has performed well at this type of track so far this season, so I am feeling positive for the race."

Lewis Hamilton:

"We had a productive test in Jerez. I was there for a day and spent the time focusing on set-up and development work for Hungary, in the hot and dusty conditions. Following a mistake on my out lap in quailying, I started at the back of the grid in GP2 here last year. It was not a great start to the weekend, but I managed to work my way back up through the field, which was a good learning experience of the track, how to drive it and where it is possible to pass, which is notoriously difficult."

"I quite like the circuit; it is quite quick considering how tight it is. It is a real classic as well. You have gradient changes, some high and low speed corners and a good chicane up the back. There is one bump right at the back, which is so easy to catch you out, that is what happened to me in qualifying last year. We have as good a chance as anyone at the race. We have a great car and it is important that I go with a clear mind and the same approach as normal, but there is no reason why we can't go there and win."

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:

"The test team completed the final test until the end of August last week. With this track testing gap in mind and in view of the competitive battle we are having in both Championships, it was an intensive session as the team proved a range of components for Hungary and Turkey. The heat of Jerez provided some positive intelligence prior to the race at the Hungaroring."

"The key characteristic here is downforce, other factors such as aerodynamic efficiency are not as vital on this slow, tight track. Its similar nature to Monaco means that the Hungaroring is also very demanding with regards engine cooling, with no long straights to provide cooling. The cars also run with larger radiators and apertures to improve overall cooling performance."

"In previous years rates of tyre degradation has been a massive factor on the whole weekend. The hot and dusty track conditions combined with the loads placed on the tyres by the constant cornering leads to wear, and the importance of qualifying has seen the tyre wars of previous years push the compounds to the limit to get a fast qualifying lap in. This year, whilst degradation will occur, we do not expect it to be to such an extent, because of the use of the control Bridgestone Potenza tyres."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

"The Budapest's circuit characteristics are totally different from those at the recent Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. With an average speed per lap of almost 200 kph the track is the second slowest after Monaco. Traction and precise positioning at the entrances of the corners represent the crucial key; there are no extremely fast corners."

"Also because of the high amount of abrasion, there is only one possible line in the race what makes a top result in qualifying even more important. In the rain, however, the circuit can generate surprises; the race last August was a highlight of the season. Our target for Hungary is clear: If possible, we want to extend our leads in both World Championships."

-credit: mclaren

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