The sense of anticipation for the closing four races of the 2003 FIA Formula One Championship is palpable as every race will play a critical role in determining the outcome of the closely contested Constructors' and Drivers' Championships. The...
The sense of anticipation for the closing four races of the 2003 FIA Formula One Championship is palpable as every race will play a critical role in determining the outcome of the closely contested Constructors' and Drivers' Championships.
The BMW WilliamsF1 Team and its two drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher are in close contention, and the team has performed well this season on race tracks with similar characteristics to the 4.38km Hungaoring. However, extreme heat, the complications that traffic creates on the Budapest circuit and the redoubled efforts of every Formula One team to stake a claim to the 2003 honours will make the forthcoming Hungarian Grand Prix a compelling spectacle.
Juan Pablo Montoya:
"I have always enjoyed the city of Budapest, even if I cannot count the Hungaroring among my favourite circuits, but I think it has improved now because of the changes that have been made to the track. I will see once I am there. It is going to be a very hot weekend, as usual, and no doubt this is positive for us, first of all because our Michelin tyres perform very well in the heat and also because I have no problem with the physical effort required. I have been working out hard in the last few months and I have been doing the same last week in Miami. I feel fit and ready for any hot conditions."
"We haven't performed very well in Hungary recently, but our car is much improved this year, so I am sure it will suit the Hungaroring much better. I know the team is very motivated, and so am I, and all the partners like Michelin are pushing very hard. I am not interested in talking about Championships, because the only way these are won is by concentrating on each race as it comes, and that is where my focus lies at the moment."
"As far as my expectations for the race in Hungary go, I can't really say much as the appeal decision against my penalty following the accident at the start of Hockenheim is still pending. If the penalty stands and I lose ten places, that will obviously make the race a lot more difficult, as it is well known that Hungary doesn't allow much opportunity for overtaking. But nothing is impossible."
"There have been a few changes to the Hungaroring for this year and, while we were at Hockenheim, I managed to get some plans of the new circuit. The start/finish straight, for example, has been extended by 250 metres, which might make overtaking a bit easier. Basically I'm looking forward to the weekend in Hungary because I have very good memories from last year's race. We managed to set the car up well and I ended up in third place in what was probably the best race of the season for me. This year, our car has a shorter wheelbase which should make it even more suited to the track. Also, the hot temperatures you usually get in Hungary at this time of year will suit our Michelin tyres which will hopefully give us an advantage."
Sam Michael, chief operations engineer:
"After such a dominating victory at Hockenheim in Germany, where we won our fourth Grand Prix of the year, we are looking forward to Budapest. Performance is not the only factor, it must be supported by our reliability, highlighted by the fact that the BMW WilliamsF1 Team is the only team to score points in every single Grand Prix so far in 2003."
"Hungaroring has undergone two changes since last year's race, with the pit straight being longer and the third to last corner being straightened, effectively lengthening the circuit as well. It is a technical circuit where a lot of the corners flow into each other, making it important for the driver to get into the correct rhythm. Set up has traditionally been maximum downforce and, although the layout has changed, downforce will remain at a maximum."
"Strategy will be crucial at Hungaroring as it is quite difficult, although not impossible, to overtake. We have made several mechanical and aerodynamic improvements to the car since Hockenheim to help us continue our form at the front of the grid. Michelin have also been hard at work, even without track testing time they can still bring new improvements to the races."
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director):
"To have a realistic chance of winning the title with four Grands Prix to go before the end of the season is a new situation for us. Of course it increases the pressure on us to succeed, but it also heightens our desire to win. Test rig and development work on the current P83 engine and the P84 for 2004 is going full steam ahead even during the break in testing."
"We're hoping that Ralf will be allowed to start from the grid position he earns in qualifying, because having two top drivers at the front of the grid is more important to us than ever before. At the Hungaroring, engines generally have to withstand extreme thermal loads, not only because of the high temperatures you tend to get there but above all because there are no long straights. There is, if you like, a lack of cool air refreshment breaks for the engines. The extension of the start/finish straight by 250 metres won't make much difference to the thermal load, but it should facilitate overtaking, which is good from our point of view. Previous races at the Hungaroring have been quite challenging for the team but with our strong performances in the last few races we should have a good chance of a podium place this year."