Round 11 of the Championship and the final race prior to the traditional three week August summer break takes Formula One to the cultural hotspot of Budapest this weekend for the Hungarian Grand Prix. In 1986, Hungary became the first ...
Round 11 of the Championship and the final race prior to the traditional three week August summer break takes Formula One to the cultural hotspot of Budapest this weekend for the Hungarian Grand Prix. In 1986, Hungary became the first Eastern European country to host a Grand Prix and has remained a permanent fixture on the calendar ever since.
Over its 21 race history, the Hungaroring has provided the backdrop for a host of dramatic racing scenes, many of them involving Williams cars, including Nelson Piquet's victory at the debut race, Nigel Mansell's win from 12th place in 1989 and Thierry Boutsen's victory over Ayrton Senna a year later. In total, the team has won seven times in Hungary and remains the most successful team to have competed at the track.
Historically a dry race, last year's rain soaked GP may have proved an anomaly at the time, but the forecast for this weekend's race predicts more of the same. With overtaking opportunities at a premium, Formula One's fans could be in for another thrilling Grand Prix.
"I'm looking forward to the race in Hungary. I quite like the track; it suits my driving style well. Although we use a similar set-up to Monaco there, the two tracks feel completely different; the Hungaroring is more physical because of the higher speeds and temperatures. It's also one of the better tracks for our car, so we have a good chance of doing well there."
"Hungary holds good memories for me. I was pretty strong there last year, and I was on pole when I raced there in GP2. I really hope it will be a good weekend."
"The Hungarian Grand Prix is almost a home race for me because lots of Austrian fans travel to the Hungaroring every year. I'm looking forward to Budapest for various reasons. The circuit is very nice and I enjoy the flow, but it's also a difficult track, not only in terms of finding a good set-up, but also because it's very physically demanding for the drivers."
"It's a long race, with very hot temperatures, and there are no straights to relax on so we're constantly under pressure. I expect the layout to suit our car and I hope that we will pick up a few points. I will certainly be pushing like crazy!
Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams F1:
"Budapest is a technical circuit where the drivers have to get into a good rhythm as the corners blend almost continuously from one to the next. This tests the drivers' concentration to the limit and also means that a mistake early on in the lap can be costly."
"The Hungaroring is a maximum downforce track, with only Monaco having a lower minimum aerodynamic efficiency requirement. In simple terms, that means we can accept downforce with a lot of drag at Budapest and still go faster. Bridgestone will bring the Soft and Super Soft Potenza tyres for this race. The sustained lateral loading on the car around Budapest will also bring its own challenges."
"Pit stop strategy can go from one extreme to the other, depending on your qualifying position. It is important to get a good start here, because overtaking is not easy, but that is often difficult due to the dust which usually covers the pit straight. We are pushing hard with development on the FW29, but the competition for points is fierce and this weekend will be no different."
Similar to Monaco, the Hungaroring is a tight and twisty race track at which the drivers have to manage 14 slow speed corners over just one 4.3km lap. Combined with some of the shortest straights on the calendar, a maximum downforce package and a well balanced car are essential to achieve a competitive lap time.
Engines will enjoy some comparative respite this weekend as the cars will rev at full throttle for a maximum of 62% of the lap while average speeds will range between just 90km/h and 295km/h. Torque will be a critical requirement of the engine to power the cars out of the slow speed corners, as will good mechanical grip and good traction.
Another effect of the corner sequencing will see the tyres experience intense thermal loads in Hungary as repetitive braking, cornering and acceleration events over the 70 lap race will leave little opportunity for cooling. Together with the high ambient temperatures common to Hungary which will push track temperatures in excess of 50°C, tyre wear will be at its peak this weekend.
Dust can also cause problems at the Hungarian Grand Prix, as the dirty track at the start of the race weekend distorts the data ahead of qualifying. Although the circuit evolves throughout the weekend, the track offers little grip off the racing line so the opportunities for overtaking during the race are few and always risky.