A lap of the Hungaroring with Hondas Alex Wurz 31 Jul 2008
As his Japanese team prepares for the 11th race of the 2008 Formula One season, Honda reserve Alexander Wurz finds time to talk us round a flying lap of the Hungaroring
The Hungarian Grand Prix is an enjoyable race because Budapest is a beautiful city and the Hungaroring is a super-cool track. There are no proper straights on the lap and many of the corners are inter-linked, so if you make a mistake in one, you're still paying for it three corners later.
The track picks up quite a lot of grip as more rubber goes down, which results in you going about five seconds per lap quicker during the race than was the case during Friday morning practice. When you combine that with the heat, it becomes seriously hard work for the drivers! The change in the grip level also makes it difficult to evaluate set-up changes, but that's part of the challenge.
You brake for Turn One from 290km/h and shift down to second gear. You accelerate out, pass through a kink and brake again for Turn Two, a long left-hander. It is second or third gear, depending on gear ratios, and it's a bit bumpy on entry so you have to be careful not to lock a wheel. At the exit you need to keep hold of the car because Turn Three is a flat-out right-hander where you need to carry as much speed as possible because it's followed by a short straight.
Turn Four is a very fast fifth gear left-hander. The entry is blind and the exit is very narrow, so it's easy to make a mistake. If you have a good rhythm, you can carry speed through here and make up a lot of time. Usually fast corners aren't the place to make time, but you can through here because this corner punishes car-driver combinations that aren't in tune with each other.
I love Turn Five because you can attack it like you would in a go-kart. You brake, you chuck the car in, you slide all four wheels and you put the power down just as you hit some quite severe bumps. This makes it really exciting and you continue the four-wheel slide to the exit. Then you come to Turns Six and Seven, a chicane. You hit the right-hand kerb, but don't want to touch the one on the left because that unsettles the rear wheels under acceleration.
A short straight follows before Turns Eight and Nine. If your car has a good front end, you can carry an enormous amount of speed through Turn Eight, which is a fourth gear left-hander. You want to keep to the left on the exit to ensure you have a good line through Turn Nine, which is quite a slippery right-hander. If you lift off the throttle too fast on the approach, you have snap oversteer; if you lift too gently, you'll get understeer. It's a tricky corner.
Turn Ten is a flat-out left-hand kink, before you come to Turn 11, which is a very fast right-hander. You approach it in sixth gear, change down to fifth and chuck the car in, hoping the front end sticks to the road. It's a very cool corner. You then go down a hill and brake to second gear for a right-hander which is quite straightforward, although you want to steer clear of the exit kerb because it will slow you down.
The penultimate corner is quite bumpy on entry and it's easy to out-brake yourself. It's third gear and you floor the throttle mid-corner and steer the rear end with the throttle. A short burst of acceleration follows, before turning in to the last corner. It's very bumpy and slippery on entry, but there's a change in the asphalt in the middle and that's your cue to floor the throttle. You can't see the exit at this point, but it appears soon enough and you cross the start-finish line to begin another lap.