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Hungaroring - the engineer's view 20 Aug 2003

Geoff Willis (GBR), Techinal Dirtector of BAR.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 6 March 2003

Geoffrey Willis, Technical Director, BAR:
"The Hungarian race is the highest downforce race on the calendar, even more so than Monaco. Although modified since last year, it retains the previous characteristics with its continuous sequence of low and medium speed turns. It is difficult to find a good balance for the car on this track since it changes performance dramatically throughout the weekend as more rubber is laid down. It is also one of the harder circuits on which to overtake, partly because of its layout and partly because the circuit is always very dusty off-line. Qualifying position will be particularly important here so teams will be considering two or three stop race plans. Conditions are very often extremely hot and tough for engines and drivers alike. BAR, like many others teams, will be bringing a specific high downforce and high cooling aero package to Hungary. Tyres will play a major part at this race, where track temperatures can be extremely high and degradation is significant."

Sam Michael, Chief Operations Engineer, Williams:
"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, Motorsport Director, BMW:
"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."

Willy Rampf, Technical Director, Sauber:
"After Monte Carlo, the Hungaroring requires the most downforce. The two tracks are actually quite similar even though they look very different. Neither has any really high speed corners, and the straights are relatively short. This year there have been some changes, however. The pit straight is longer and followed by a hairpin turn, and the corners immediately prior to the last one have been altered because in the past the kerbs there have damaged chassis quite badly when the drivers ran over them. Overtaking used to be also very, very difficult. It remains to be seen whether the increased straight might make much difference to the level of downforce you run, and if overtaking opportunities might be improved.

"The surface is bumpy in places and the ambient and track temperatures are usually very high, so both factors can make things tough for the drivers. Tyre choice will also be very important, as the degradation is always a significant factor because of the heat and the track surface. You need a well balanced car with high downforce and good mechanical grip. Despite of the probably improved overtaking opportunities pit work might still take on even greater significance because almost all of the passing here was done in the past during the refuelling stops."

Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director, Renault:
"As we expected, we have been very competitive in the last couple of races: the introduction of the new bodywork package at Silverstone helped us, and we still have several steps forward to make with the engine before the end of the year, including an improved specification for this race. In Hungary, I think we must aim to qualify at the front of the grid and race strongly for another podium finish.

"I think this kind of circuit will suit our car. The last very high downforce track was Monaco, where we were not as quick as we should have been, but given the steps forward we have made with our package, we can expect to be very strong if we perform to our full potential. As well as the engine developments, we will have some minor aerodynamic improvements, and we also anticipate the tyres will prove very competitive in the expected hot conditions."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering, Renault:
"Changes were made to Magny-Cours this year with the intention of creating another passing opportunity, and in that particular case, you would have to say they did not achieve their objective. At the Hungaroring, I do not think the cars will be able to follow closely enough through turn 11 to take advantage of the new slow corner at turn 12. Turn 1 may be a little better, but there is another problem to contend with: the fact that the circuit is so dirty off line. It can take several corners to clean up the tyres after any manoeuvre, meaning anybody who does manage to get past risks making a mistake soon afterwards. I don't think the circuit changes themselves will necessarily help the overtaking situation; certainly in terms of our strategy, we go there with the assumption that it will still be very hard to pass other cars."

Denis Chevrier, Engine Operations Manager, Renault:
"The Hungaroring has changed from last year, and the modifications have significantly altered the nature of the circuit. Previously, apart from the temperature factor, the Hungaroring was not a demanding circuit for the engines; the changes, however, mean it is now much nearer average among the F1 circuits. The longer main straight will now see the cars at full throttle for ten seconds, rather than seven. Previously, the engine was under full load for 43% of the lap; according to our simulations, this will rise to 51% this year.

"One thing that won't have changed from last year, though, is the heat characteristic of this circuit. This means cooling is one of the key engine parameters we need to monitor. Efficient cooling can be achieved in a number of ways: we can try and minimise energy losses in the oil by reducing internal friction; attempt to release as much energy as possible with improved cooling systems; or indeed, we can make changes to the bodywork to improve internal airflow.

"We will be running with modifications to the upper part of the engine, which should bring both power gains and increased engine speeds. The high temperatures will also require solutions that allow us to improve cooling: in
Hungary, it is important to have an engine capable of running with high oil and water temperatures. This is why we will be bringing a new type of oil, developed for us by our fuel partner Elf, which will be used in conjunction with a reduction in the engine's oil flow."

Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport:
"The Hungarian circuit is probably the second slowest on the F1 calendar with perhaps the second smoothest track surface. This combination means Bridgestone will be bringing tyres from the softer range to search for that extra grip. The track is also twisty and undulating and grip performance will be an issue there. We normally expect quite hot weather so the tyres need to be able to cope with high temperature track conditions. The specifications for Hungary were decided based on recent results and of the specifications we are taking, there will be several new specs not yet raced before. Also to be taken into consideration, are the recent track modifications which I think will have reduced the average speeds even further. Certain sections have been resurfaced, the first corner is now almost a hairpin and part of the last section has been altered from a high speed corner to a 90 degree turn. In all, it is approximately 400 metres longer. We will require good consistency in hot conditions from our Bridgestone Potenza tyres, good grip and the ability to change direction."

Martin Whitmarsh, Managing Director, McLaren:
"The Hungaroring presents us with a number of interesting challenges. It is a technical circuit, purpose built for Formula One. It has a tight, slippery nature and an abrasive surface. This combined with the constant cornering can lead to high rates of tyre degradation, and therefore heightens the importance of the performance of the Michelin tyres."

Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"The Hungaroring is one of the slowest circuits on the calendar and features a narrow track with slow and medium fast corners. The tarmac is often dusty and therefore offers only little grip especially on Friday and Saturday when the track is still green. The circuit is notorious for its lack of overtaking opportunities. This means that the qualifying will be very important for a good race result. The weather at Budapest at that time of the year is usually very hot, so that the Hungarian Grand Prix is a real challenge for the drivers and their machinery, and the expected high track temperatures will have a great influence on the tyre performance. About 50 percent of a lap is run with full throttle."

Ove Andersson, Team Principal, Toyota:
"The low-speed characteristics of the Hungaroring may not suit our car as well as some other tracks, although I will reserve final judgement until Friday practice. One thing is for sure, the whole team is fully committed to our aim of scoring more top 8 results and in the process we will do our utmost to retain this sixth place (in the constructors' championship) and hopefully go one better."

Gary Anderson, Director of Race and Test Engineering, Jordan:
"Although there have been some modifications made to the track to hopefully improve overtaking it is still the second slowest circuit on the calendar after Monaco. The need for high downforce on this circuit and the high temperatures normally experienced in Hungary mean it will be a very demanding race for the drivers, cars and tyres. There are very few straights and little opportunity for drivers to take a break and catch their breath so high endurance levels and discipline are essential. The driver's ability in applying himself and driving within his strategy can make or break this type of race. Bridgestone have been working very hard during the summer break and together we're looking forward to a good event. Having Zsolt (Baumgartner) driving the third car will really help when it comes to making tyre choices, he did a very competent job in Hockenheim."

Pascal Vasselon, F1 programme manager, Michelin:
"A number of conflicting circumstances make tyre choice quite complex at this track. It is very difficult to overtake, so a strong qualifying position is vital - a factor that requires a softer tyre compound. That said, the track's sinuous nature and the customarily high temperatures mean you can't run too soft a tyre if you want to maintain a consistent race pace.

"We finalised our Hungarian GP options shortly after the previous race, in Germany. Our tyres' excellent performance in the ultra-hot conditions at Hockenheim served as a useful benchmark. In Budapest we will provide our partners with two different types of dry-weather tyre. One of these has not previously been tried during a race weekend.

"This year's circuit changes will doubtless have a slight influence on the way teams approach the race. Last season almost everybody opted for a two-stop strategy but this time I expect a few teams to plump for three."