Round 11 of the 2014 Formula One World Championship brings us to Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix, held at the Hungaroring.
I was very proud that we could put both cars on the podium for Mercedes-Benz in Germany in front of all the Mercedes employees there last weekend. From a personal point of view, I couldn't be too ecstatic about the race because it was a tough weekend for me and ultimately I lost more points to Nico in the Championship battle. But I had great fun out there and did as good a job as I could. To get the car from right at the back to the podium was quite an achievement for everyone involved and I'm grateful that we could limit the damage after qualifying. The Hungarian Grand Prix is always a special one for me, with four pole positions and four wins from my seven races there so far - including my first victory for Mercedes last season. I don't really have any secrets there - I've just been very fortunate over the years and it's a circuit I really enjoy. It's one where you can really attack, which works for an attacking driver like myself, so perhaps it suits my driving style a little bit more than some others. I've always had great support there from the fans too, so I'm looking forward to it. I'm doing absolutely everything I can to get back on level terms with Nico in the title battle - I can't focus more or work harder than I am doing right now. This Championship is proving a big challenge for me but that's how I love it - and I wouldn't have it any other way.
It was an amazing feeling to take a home victory for myself and Mercedes-Benz at Hockenheim. That race and Monaco are the ones I really want to win, so I came into the weekend hoping for a good result and it worked out perfectly. My Silver Arrow was so dominant and I have to thank the team for this fantastic car. So many positive things have been happening for me in the last few weeks. Getting married was definitely the best feeling, then with the new contract, the World Cup for Germany and the weekend at Hockenheim. It's been a very special time for me. Now we head to Hungary, which is always a really fun weekend in a lot of different ways. Budapest is a really cool city, with a lot of nice things to do in the evening with all the restaurants on the river. I often have friends come to this race as they really enjoy the place - although, of course, while they're out partying on the Saturday night, I'll focusing and preparing for the race! We've had some great after-race parties on the Sunday night in Hungary before, as it's the last one before the summer break. Hopefully we can give everyone back at the factories and here at the circuit something to really cheer about as a reward for all their hard work before they go on holiday!
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
Our performance at the last race in Germany was very satisfying indeed. So many of our board members, colleagues and friends from Stuttgart were there in Hockenheim for the weekend so the pressure was on. We've performed well at the other big races for the team in Malaysia and Britain, but this was the pinnacle for us as a home race. As our thoughts now turn swiftly to the next race in Hungary, it's important to recognise the hard work put in by everyone at our factories in Brackley and Brixworth. It's a tight turnaround between the two races and this will be the final trip before the summer break, so we are pushing flat out to make sure we wrap up the first part of the season on a high. It has been a very busy year so far and another strong result would be the right reward for everyone involved before taking a well-earned rest. We had a spectacular race in Hockenheim and Budapest also has real potential to deliver an exciting Sunday afternoon, although overtaking is much more challenging there. the Hungaroring has always seen fantastic levels of support and we are looking forward to putting on a good show for the fans.
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
Germany proved to be a busy weekend for the team from start to finish - both in the garage and off track as the home race for Mercedes-Benz. The big talking point going into the weekend was, of course, the demise of FRIC. Much was made of its potential impact on the relative performance of the teams, but as we saw from the first sessions on Friday this did not come to fruition. Lewis' incident during qualifying came as a big shock. The damage to the car left us with some difficult decisions to make and, in the end, changes to the gearbox meant a 5-place penalty dropped Lewis even further down the grid. Lewis then produced a superb recovery drive from the back of the grid to claim a fine podium finish. Nico, meanwhile, built on a strong qualifying position with a perfectly judged race performance to take a well-earned home win. We now move on to Hungary, which will be another interesting challenge. It's usually very hot in Budapest, which will be a consideration in terms of car setup. Overtaking is also notoriously tough around the Hungaroring circuit - with a high emphasis placed on a good qualifying result. Lewis has a fantastic record at this particular venue, with four pole positions and four wins from his seven races here. Nico, by contrast, has had a tough time in Hungary in previous years. However, judging by his performance in Germany last weekend we should be set for another fascinating battle between the two drivers. As a team, we will approach this race as we would any other as we look to cap off a strong start to the season with an equally strong result heading into the summer break.
Hungaroring: The Inside Line
The weather is usually fantastic in Hungary and the circuit is quite an old-school layout, so it's got plenty of great characteristics. It definitely suits my 'aggressive' driving style - as I think a lot of people like to call it. You start the lap with DRS across the pit straight - which is actually quite short compared to a lot of other tracks. You're then late on the brakes into the right-hander of Turn One, ideally hitting the apex right in the middle, then hard on the power and opening the DRS once again on exit.
You have to brake really deep into the left-handed Turn Two and really hug the apex, with a good line crucial to allow you to go flat-out through the right-hander at Turn Three - using all of the kerb on exit. It's really hard to see the apex at Turn Four, which arrives very quickly and is another really fast corner. Turn Five is then a bit slower - heading back to the right and with a bumpy surface on exit which can easily lead to oversteer moments.
A good run through the Turn Six / Seven chicane needs you to take all the available kerb through the first part and then get hard on the power out of the second - leading into a really nice left-right-left-right sequence at Turns Eight, Nine, 10 and 11. You have to be really patient through here, as a good rhythm is important.
Finally, you're into the last sector - beginning with Turn 12. There is a lot of grip on the way into this corner, which requires minimum kerb contact on entry but maximum on exit. You need patience once more through Turn 13, which you almost have to make into a 'vee' for the best line, and again through the final corner, Turn 14, which is crucial for a good run down the straight.
The Hungaroring is quite a unique circuit as it is very small and narrow - almost like a street circuit, but in the form of a permanent race track. It's really twisty, with very few straights and the left-right-left-right nature meaning you barely get any time to relax. You're always in action, so it's very tough on the driver. Luckily, I enjoy those sorts of challenges as it's where you can really make a difference as a driver. You also have to really nail some of the kerbs to get the line just right, otherwise you'll lose the rhythm and lose a lot of speed.
Budapest as a venue is also quite tough on the driver physically, as it can get very hot. Again, the lack of straights also mean you have very little time to take a breather and get some cool air rushing around you. You're always tensed up in the cockpit, fighting all the corners, so it is pretty demanding from that perspective.
The key corners around the circuit are Turn One, which is the best place to overtake after the longest DRS straight on the track, and then I would say Turn Five. This is around the back of the circuit and comes after the very fast Turn Four - sweeping up and right for quite a long time. It's easy to get this one wrong and you really have to hook your inside tyre into the little ditch on the inside of the apex to make it work best, so it's tricky but a lot of fun.
Mercedes AMG Petronas