Hungarian GP: Michelin preview

Every Formula One team has enjoyed a two-week summer break in the wake of the German Grand Prix -- but the holiday period is over. This weekend Michelin and its five partners swing back into action in eastern Europe, when the Hungarian GP takes ...

Every Formula One team has enjoyed a two-week summer break in the wake of the German Grand Prix -- but the holiday period is over. This weekend Michelin and its five partners swing back into action in eastern Europe, when the Hungarian GP takes place at the Hungaroring. The circuit is just a short car journey from capital city Budapest.

Michelin aims to maintain its strong run of recent form -- and the company's motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier was delighted by events in Germany, where Michelin-shod cars completed a clean sweep of the top six places. He says: "It was very pleasing to see three different partner teams filling the podium positions and I was encouraged by the excellent performance shown by every driver using Michelin tyres."

"Juan Pablo Montoya gave a memorably dominant display in his Williams-BMW to finish more than a minute clear of his rivals and McLaren-Mercedes star David Coulthard battled his way through the field impressively to secure second place. Jarno Trulli took a strong third for Renault and we mustn't forget that Toyota's drivers both scored points as the team obtained the finest result in its short F1 career."

"I'm sure cynics will point out that our main rival Michael Schumacher was running second as late as lap 63, but that was due to astute strategy rather than pure performance because six drivers set faster race laps than he did."

And what does he predict for Budapest? "The circuit layout has been slightly modified and parts of it have also been resurfaced," he says. "These alterations might throw up a few surprises."

Technically speaking, with Pascal Vasselon (F1 programme manager)

Tight fit
"Although the circuit has been modified recently, its nature hasn't changed a great deal. It incorporates lots of slow-speed corners and average lap speeds are fairly modest, at about 180 km/h (112mph)."

Complex characteristics
"A number of conflicting circumstances make tyre choice quite complex at this track. It is very difficult to overtake at the Hungaroring so a strong qualifying position is vital -- a factor that requires a softer tyre compound. That said, the track's sinuous nature and the customarily high temperatures mean you can't run too soft a tyre if you want to maintain a consistent race pace."

Feeling the heat
"It isn't only track temperature we have to worry about when monitoring tyre performance, although rubber cools down more quickly through contact with the asphalt than it does through exposure to airstreams - the physics involved in heat transfer see to that. Track temperature is the first factor that governs tyre temperature. Things deteriorate when a tyre begins sliding around because it starts to lose grip - and if it isn't in such consistent contact with the track it overheats more and more. It isn't easy to strike the right compromise between a soft tyre that offers good grip but is less heat-resistant and a hard tyre that is more durable but slides around too much."

Michelin's response
"We finalised our Hungarian GP options shortly after the previous race, in Germany. Our tyres' excellent performance in the ultra-hot conditions at Hockenheim served as a useful benchmark. In Budapest we will provide our partners with two different types of dry-weather tyre. One of these has not previously been tried during a race weekend."

Tactical options
"This year's circuit changes will doubtless have a slight influence on the way teams approach the race. Last season almost everybody opted for a two-stop strategy but this time I expect a few teams to plump for three. A pit stop takes about 30 seconds and 10kg of fuel equates to a penalty of about 0.3 seconds per lap."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Williams