A lap of Magny-Cours with Hondas Alexander Wurz 19 Jun 2008
The Circuit de Nevers is a challenging mix of gradient changes, tricky corners and variable grip levels. Here Honda reserve Alexander Wurz talks us round a flying lap of the Magny-Cours track ahead of this weekends French Grand Prix
"What I like about Magny-Cours is the fact that there is a bit more time at the end of each day. No-one rushes off anywhere because there's nowhere to go, so people have more time to sit and talk.
"The circuit is quite nice because of the fast chicanes, but it's always difficult to get the set-up right because a very small change in track temperature can affect lap times by as much as two seconds per lap. It can get very slippery.
"From a driving point of view, the circuit has a nice rhythm and throws up different challenges. The double left-hander after the start-finish straight is taken flat-out, before the long right-hander called Estoril. It's tricky because you get a lot of rear end instability on entry, understeer mid-corner and oversteer on the exit. You also have to floor the throttle without being able to see the exit.
"A long straight follows and the wind direction can affect your braking point into the Adelaide Hairpin. It's a bit slippery through here, but it's still the only realistic overtaking point on the lap. You're in first gear, so it's important to make sure you get good traction at the exit because you're then flat-out until the first high speed chicane. You arrive in sixth gear and have just a little lift and tap of the brakes to stabilise the car.
"Next, you're into a long left-hander that tightens up on you. There are several different lines through here and you have to let the car do what it wants to a degree. It's easy to lock the inside front under braking and you'll always get understeer or oversteer; I've never had a perfect balance through this corner.
"Another quick chicane follows. It's slightly slower than the first one, but you have to position your car carefully because a small crest makes the apex momentarily blind. If you position the car well, you clip the kerb on the right; if you miss that kerb by a few inches you have to get off the throttle and you can easily lose 0.3 seconds.
"Then you come to a first gear right-hander, which is a bit slippery on entry and exit. Then comes another right-hander, which is second gear, before you find yourself into the final chicane. The kerbs are very high, so you have to be very rough with the car through here. Then you cross the start-finish line to start another lap."