The Hungaroring - the engineers view 12 Aug 2004
After Monaco, the Hungaroring is the slowest circuit on the Formula One racing calendar. It requires maximum downforce and its track surface is notoriously slippery. The sports top technicians explain the challenges of the Hungarian Grand Prix venue.
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
The forthcoming Hungarian Grand Prix will be the next chance for David, Kimi and our team to show the MP4-19Bs competitiveness. The Budapest circuit is completely different from the last three venues. It is rather slow with normally hot ambient temperatures and dust being a big issue. Theres only one line and this together with the tracks layout make for little or no overtaking opportunities. Anyway, Kimi managed to do so last year on his way to a second place finish, and the team is giving it everything to achieve a similar result on the coming weekend. The circuit is the second slowest on the calendar after Monaco and only about 50 percent of a lap is run under full throttle.
Willy Rampf, Technical Director, Sauber:
"The Hungaroring shares two things with Monaco: it requires maximum downforce, and it is very hard to overtake there. It can also be one of the hottest races: it is common for this circuit to require the most cooling we can muster. This is partly because of the very high ambient and track temperatures, and partly because of the nature of the circuit. The straights are short, the corners follow one another very quickly, and none of them are really high speed. This means that ducting and hot air extraction are critical factors, and this is an area in which we are very strong.
"Then there is the tyre wear factor. The Hungaroring has low grip because the surface is often dusty, so degradation can be high because the car will slide around a lot and the sequencing of the corners gives the tyres little respite from side loadings. That's why you need such high downforce, but traction is also vital, together with decent balance and good turn-in.
"Generally this is a three-stop race; in 2003 eight of the first nine cars stopped three times. I am confident that Bridgestone will give us a strong tyre for the conditions we expect. We cannot test prior to the race because of the summer break, but we will have more new aerodynamic parts from the wind tunnel at Hinwil."
Bob Bell, Technical Director, Renault:
The circuit was very good to us last year, and our car this year is probably best relative to the competition on slower circuits where we can use maximum downforce, and which reward our good traction and braking. We will be hoping for a similar level to that we demonstrated last year although somehow, I doubt we will find ourselves lapping Michael Schumacher this time around.
Rob White, Engine Technical Director, Renault:
The RS24D (engine), racing in Hungary for the first time uses a revised cylinder head and related parts in the top end of the engine. The RS24D represents a small performance step over the final RS24B and will be the platform for further refinement and development during the final part of the season. There was an RS24C development project, which was pursued on the dyno, but which did not go in the car. Elements of the RS24C will appear in future versions of our engine.
Denis Chevrier, Head of Engine Operations, Renault:
With a layout that includes 16 corners in just over four kilometres, this is a circuit where a low percentage of the lap (51%) is spent at full throttle, and where the maximum speed is also relatively low, at just over 300 kph. Five of these corners are taken at less than 100 kph, and just two see speeds of more than 200 kph. However, the other interesting factor is that unlike in Monaco, there are no what might be termed unusually slow corners, and the slowest turn is the first corner, taken at 90 kph.
Consequently, the range of engine performance is not as wide as at some other circuits, and during the race weekend we concentrate on optimising acceleration between 90 kph and 250 kph. We have made significant progress with in-gear performance during the season, and this will allow us to capitalise on the generous torque curve of the RS24.
One other factor to bear in mind is the comparatively high weight penalty for carrying a heavy fuel load at this circuit (0.41s per 10kg). This means that an engine with good fuel consumption will provide a greater relative advantage than at some other venues.
Finally, the other factor to be taken into account is the ambient temperature. Of course, this requires special precautions in terms of cooling, but we are familiar with these demands. Rather, high temperatures also have the effect of dislocating an engine's power curve upwards, meaning peak power is produced at higher engine speeds than usual, owing to acoustic changes produced by the lower air density. In this respect, the new D-spec engine which will debut at this race will improve the engine power available throughout the rev range as well as allowing us to run higher engine speeds, and will provide an additional advantage in these circumstances.
Frank Williams, Team Principal, Williams:
Partly because of the customary great heat, I think Hungary is a circuit which presents and creates an enormous amount of hard work from the moment you arrive to the moment you depart. We all know the rules for Hungary, we must be on the front row of the grid because it is a very difficult circuit to pass on, so all our concentration will be on providing a car that can do that. The team will present its cars in Hungary with some aero modifications, including a return to a more conventional nose and front wing solution.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director:
In terms of full throttle ratio and engine speed, the relatively slow Hungaroring is not especially challenging for the BMW P84 engine, but the power units are usually subjected to extreme loads in this race. Cooling air is at a premium due, on the one hand, to the high air temperatures and a build-up of heat in the area. On the other hand, there are not enough long straights for the engines to recover. Sand blowing in from the surrounding locality always causes traction problems but it does not pose any real hazard for the engines.
Hisao Suganuma, Technical Manager, Bridgestone:
"The current test ban meant that our tyre selection for the forthcoming Hungarian Grand Prix was mainly completed at the last test in Jerez, Spain where we found a positive step forward in our development programme. We have also had time to evaluate the performance of our tyres at the last round in Hockenheim and we incorporated those findings when making the final tyre selection decisions for this weekend with our teams. We have also taken into consideration the smooth track surface so have chosen specifications from our soft compound range in order to provide good grip. Hungary is the second slowest circuit in terms of average speeds and track temperatures can be expected to be high, which adds an extra dimension to the challenge of producing a competitive tyre. Last year was a significant race for Bridgestone and we learnt a great amount from it. This year we are looking forward to seeing a better outcome."
Dr Mark Gillan, Head of Vehicle Performance, Jaguar:
"Although there has been a testing ban in place we have been making the most of the time. The guys in the factory, both in Milton Keynes and at Cosworth Racing in Northampton have been working on producing new parts for the car that have already been tested on the track and on the dyno and given the green light. We are going to be
bringing a couple of these new parts to the Hungaroring as with only six races to go we need to be making the most of any points-scoring opportunity that comes our way.
Mike Gascoyne, Technical Director Chassis, Toyota:
"The Hungarian Grand Prix is an important weekend for us, having run the TF104B for the first time in Hockenheim three weeks' ago and seen the performance gains that we were expecting. We now need to capitalise on that increased competitiveness and extract the full potential out of the car. The Hungaroring is a slow speed, maximum downforce circuit, which places an emphasis on aero efficiency. Overtaking is notoriously difficult, so we will have to adopt the correct strategy to ensure that we qualify and race well. We simply have to do a solid, professional job and show what we can do as a team."
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
The Budapest track presents a number of interesting challenges. Although it is a permanent facility, it is used less frequently than many grand prix venues. This and the dusty local landscape dictate that it is inevitably very slippery to begin with, although it evolves fairly dramatically as the weekend goes on. Even when some rubber has been laid down, however, tyres are still subjected to significant loads because the only straight is relatively short and cars are constantly turning in track temperatures verging on 50 degrees. Whatever the conditions, though, I believe our engineers endeavours will give Michelins partners an edge in one of the most demanding European races.
Pascal Vasselon, Michelin F1 programme manager:
Budapest is spiritually close to Monaco in terms of average lap speeds but thats where any similarity ends. While we are able to use our softest compounds of the season in Monte Carlo, the Hungarian Grand Prix is a very tough event for tyres. It used to be incredibly difficult to strike the right balance. Overtaking was almost impossible, so you needed a soft, effective qualifying tyre, but at the same time it had to provide consistent performance during a race stint.
The emphasis changed in 2003, however, when the circuit was revised to create more passing opportunities and we saw the positive benefits of that during last seasons corresponding event. This has allowed us to adopt tyre compounds better suited to racing conditions.
This weekend we will offer our partner teams three dry-weather options from the medium sector of our range and one has never previously been used during a grand prix. It was designed specifically with Budapest in mind and we finalised its specification last month, during a test session at Jerez.
Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering, Renault:
Budapest is hard on tyres not because of any specific corner, but because it is so busy. Apart from one straight, drivers are constantly cornering, accelerating or braking and the tyres do not get any rest. In addition, we also run very high downforce levels, to increase grip during braking and acceleration, so the tyres are worked hard longitudinally, too.
When setting up the chassis, our goal is to look after the rear tyres. With so much acceleration out of slow corners, this is very much a 'rear-limited' circuit and we have to protect the car against possible blistering during long race runs.