Hungarian GP: Michelin preview

Michelin and its six partner teams return to the track this weekend in the wake of Formula One's mid-season mini-break. The Hungarian Grand Prix has been a permanent fixture on the sporting calendar since 1986, when it made history as eastern ...

Michelin and its six partner teams return to the track this weekend in the wake of Formula One's mid-season mini-break. The Hungarian Grand Prix has been a permanent fixture on the sporting calendar since 1986, when it made history as eastern Europe's first F1 world championship race. Sunday's event will be the 19th of its kind and all have taken place at the Hungaroring, less than half an hour by road from capital city Budapest.

The circuit was significantly revised in 2003, when Michelin scored one of the most emphatic of its 73 F1 grand prix successes. Fernando Alonso (Renault) led all the way and finished more than a lap clear of the best non-Michelin runner en route to becoming the youngest race winner in F1 history. Drivers from four Michelin teams took a clean sweep of the top seven places.

Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:

"Last year's Hungarian Grand Prix was a spectacular success for Michelin - but you can never take anything for granted in Formula One and we have worked flat out to make sure we are in even better shape this season."

The Budapest track presents a number of interesting challenges. Although it is a permanent facility, it is used less frequently than many grand prix venues. This and the dusty local landscape dictate that it is inevitably very slippery to begin with, although it evolves fairly dramatically as the weekend goes on."

"Even when some rubber has been laid down, however, tyres are still subjected to significant loads because the only straight is relatively short and cars are constantly turning in track temperatures verging on 50 degrees. Whatever the conditions, though, I believe our engineers' endeavours will give Michelin's partners an edge in one of the most demanding European races."

Pascal Vasselon, Michelin F1 programme manager:

"Budapest is spiritually close to Monaco in terms of average lap speeds - but that's where any similarity ends. While we are able to use our softest compounds of the season in Monte Carlo, the Hungarian Grand Prix is a very tough event for tyres."

"It used to be incredibly difficult to strike the right balance. Overtaking was almost impossible, so you needed a soft, effective qualifying tyre, but at the same time it had to provide consistent performance during a race stint."

"The emphasis changed in 2003, however, when the circuit was revised to create more passing opportunities - and we saw the positive benefits of that during last season's corresponding event. This has allowed us to adopt tyre compounds better suited to racing conditions."

"This weekend we will offer our partner teams three dry-weather options from the medium sector of our range - and one has never previously been used during a grand prix. It was designed specifically with Budapest in mind and we finalised its specification last month, during a test session at Jerez."

Team perspective:
Pat Symonds, executive director of engineering, Renault/Michelin

"Budapest is hard on tyres - not because of any specific corner, but because it is so busy. Apart from one straight, drivers are constantly cornering, accelerating or braking and the tyres do not get any rest. In addition, we also run very high downforce levels, to increase grip during braking and acceleration, so the tyres are worked hard longitudinally, too."

"When setting up the chassis, our goal is to look after the rear tyres. With so much acceleration out of slow corners, this is very much a 'rear- limited' circuit and we have to protect the car against possible blistering during long race runs."

"Michelin demonstrated an extremely high and consistent level of performance at this circuit in 2003 - and that was one of the contributory factors behind Fernando Alonso's excellent victory. Our success at Monaco in May highlighted the competitiveness of our R24 chassis and Michelin's rubber at high-downforce circuits. We have worked hard to optimise our tyre choice for the anticipated heat in Hungary and will be striving torepeat last season's front-running performance."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Fernando Alonso