Usually the best qualifying times are set at the end of a one-hour session, or perhaps at the very beginning if rain is threatening. In Hungary, the high temperatures created problems for everyone, and with cloud occasionally covering part of...
Usually the best qualifying times are set at the end of a one-hour session, or perhaps at the very beginning if rain is threatening. In Hungary, the high temperatures created problems for everyone, and with cloud occasionally covering part of the track, lowering the temperature by a degree or two for a few critical minutes, it was important to be out at the right time.
For a while, it looked good for Eddie Irvine. When everyone had finished their first runs he stood fourth on 1m19.008s. The only problem was that as others went out and improved on later runs, Eddie was not able to better that time. He eventually slipped back to 10th, something of a disappointment on a track where he has never qualified lower than seventh.
"I think we did all we could today," said Eddie. "The first run was okay, because I got the maximum out of the car and most people didn't. I just couldn't go forward, so that was it. I was making changes to the car, and I equalled my time basically, but that's it. I improved from my time this morning but a few extra tenths would have put us in better shape for what is going to be a very tight scrap for a single point in the race tomorrow. On the last run I pushed like mad and made a few mistakes, but there was no time left in the car; that was it."
Nevertheless, Eddie has a cunning plan for the race: "Just go round and round and see what happens. With so few overtaking opportunities in Hungary, there's not a lot else you can do..."
Johnny Herbert was disappointed with 17th place, and just like Eddie, he set his best time on the first run and then failed to improve. He spun on the last corner of his last run. He said: "Well, we've done so much stuff and haven't changed the balance of the car - we can make it worse, but not better! It's very confusing. This is the worst understeer that I've had this year, from what I can remember. It's unbelievable how much we've got, and it's something that isn't really going to make tomorrow very nice. The car is so damn nervous - it's understeer and then oversteer, and there's no smoothness to it at all. "From that far back on the grid it is going to be a tough race. There is little chance for overtaking because the track is so tight and twisty. All I can hope is to make a good start and capitalise should incidents dominate the race. "
Technical director Gary Anderson said that the track conditions had varied a lot during the one-hour session, making life very difficult for the teams.
"The track seemed to change and didn't suit the balance, because we got more and more understeer. I think most people suffered from that. If the balance of the car suited it you could go quicker. It changed a bit for the second run and then seemed to get worse, so you're chasing your tail. Eddie's first run was good, but five minutes later I think he would have done an even better time - I think the track was at it's best then, and the temperature started going up. Here if you have a little bit of a balance problem and you go wide into the dirt, and then you lose more time.
“As for the race, we did quite a lot of laps on used tyres, and it seemed okay. And we have an outside chance of a point position. It will all come down to pit-stop strategy and keeping out of trouble."