FIERCELY HOT... AND RELENTLESSLY TWISTY This season marks the 20th anniversary of the inaugural Hungarian Grand Prix, which made history as the first Formula One world championship event to take place in eastern Europe. Nelson Piquet (Williams...
FIERCELY HOT... AND RELENTLESSLY TWISTY
This season marks the 20th anniversary of the inaugural Hungarian Grand Prix, which made history as the first Formula One world championship event to take place in eastern Europe. Nelson Piquet (Williams Honda) won that landmark race on August 10 1986 and the tight, dusty character of the Hungaroring (the circuit lies a short distance from capital city Budapest) has changed little during the intervening years.
A few subtle layout changes have been made, however. The most significant occurred in 2003, when the pit straight was extended and the profile of the first corner altered in a bid to provide greater scope for overtaking. Despite this, passing opportunities remain at a premium.
Physically, this is one of the most demanding races of the season. Raceday temperatures are traditionally among the hottest in Europe and the circuit's relentless twists and turns give drivers precious little chance to pause for breath.
This will be the 21st Hungarian GP but Michelin has participated only in the most recent five. It has won twice: in 2003 Fernando Alonso (Renault) scored the company's maiden victory here, becoming the F1 world championship's youngest winner in the process, and last season Kimi Räikkönen triumphed for Team McLaren Mercedes.
Nick Shorrock, Formula One director, Michelin:
"The European Formula One season continues apace, with Budapest falling just one weekend after Hockenheim. The track surface here is a little smoother than that in Germany and features many tight corners, so average speeds are relatively low."
"The track is used less frequently than many others on the F1 calendar and, consequently, tends to be very dusty and dirty at the start of the grand prix weekend. The teams have to do quite a bit of running to clean up the surface and initially it will be difficult to achieve satisfactory grip."
"The labyrinthine nature of the track makes it demanding for tyres and it is imperative to generate good traction. The ambient temperature tends to be high so we need to deliver strong first-lap performance while protecting the tyres against the possibility of blistering.
"We are now more than two thirds of the way through the season but there has been absolutely no let-up in our preparations. Tyres for this event were initially selected during a very intense series of tests at Jerez, Spain, in week 29, but we kept open a window so that teams had the possibility to revise their decision after the German GP. Thanks to the rapid response of our production team at Clermont-Ferrand, we were able to make some adjustments once we'd analysed last weekend's Hockenheim data."
"We will have a wide variety of different products available (a mixture of 'primes' and 'options') in Budapest and the diverse blend of casings and compounds means that almost every team has an individual choice that is designed to optimise its overall car and tyre package."
"The continual need for development has led us to strengthen our team further so we can work with our partners to identify all potential areas of progress - and reaction times have to be swift because the timescales are incredibly tight at the height of the season. Despite this, however, we have been able to act on vital data gathered during the past couple of grands prix."
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, McLaren Mercedes:
"Teams need to run a significant amount of downforce at this tight, twisting track, where tyres play a key role. The constant cornering generates high tyre temperatures and this, combined with the extreme heat we tend to experience in Hungary at this time of year, has the potential to cause blistering issues."
"The McLaren Mercedes test team evaluated a range of compounds with Michelin at Jerez recently and the daily track temperature averaged 50 degrees - perfect test conditions for the Hungarian Grand Prix. We completed our programme and are comfortable with the tyre options we have available."
"Qualifying is another key factor for this race. Overtaking opportunities are limited, but the short pit lane opens a number of strategy options and we might see some interesting tactical approaches on Saturday."