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Pre-Hungary analysis - Budapest brings mixed memories 29 Jul 2011

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren talks with Paul Monaghan (GBR) Red Bull Racing Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations, Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, 28 July 2011 Race winner Jenson Button (GBR) Honda on the podium. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, 6 August 2006 (L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren with Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations, Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, 28 July 2011 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Race Day, Nurburgring, Germany, Sunday, 24 July 2011 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations, Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, 28 July 2011 The Ferrari F2009 of Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari after his heavy qualifying crash.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 25 July 2009

Hungary marks a landmark race for Jenson Button, and he would like nothing better than to get himself back on track with a victory here in his 200th Grand Prix appearance after two recent retirements. The 2009 world champion also has happy memories of the place after scoring his first F1 triumph here in 2006 at the 113th attempt.

“I’ve got very good memories of 2006,” he smiled yesterday. “Obviously it’s a long time ago now but it’s the perfect place for me to have my 200th Grand Prix, I suppose. The last couple of races for me have been a bit difficult in terms of not finishing so hopefully we can have a good result here on such a special weekend.”

Back then Button won from 14th on the grid in his Honda, in a weather-affected race. “In mixed conditions it’s always a lot easier when you are trying to find the grip and it’s changing every lap,” he said. “But you can overtake here. There are a couple of places and I think with the Pirelli tyres, with KERS, with DRS, we have seen a lot of improvements in overtaking. I don’t think this will be any different. First of all the aim is to qualify as high as possible and not have to overtake anyone, but it’s always there if it’s needed.”

Though rain is now more likely to affect practice and qualifying than it is the race itself, Button says he’d be quite happy for another wet one. “You know rain would be a lot of fun around here. We’ve been here in the wet before and for me it was one of the best races I’ve been involved in and actually watched back, because there was a lot of overtaking, a lot of fighting. Yeah, it brings something to the race, but I think even in the dry, wet or intermediate conditions we’ve got to make sure we’re quick. Lewis proved at the last race the pace of the car is very good in dry conditions, in cool conditions. I also think we’ll be there in hot conditions. Whatever the weather does we’ve got to be ready for it. But I agree that when it’s mixed conditions here it’s a fun race.”

Mark Webber had one of those here last year when he won after a brilliant gamble in staying out as everyone else pitted, and like Button is eager to rekindle such memories for Red Bull.

“Last year’s race was good and I’m looking to give it another crack this weekend if I can,” he said. “The car should be good here. I’ve been pretty quick myself of late so I’ll see what I can do. Last year is a little bit of a form card. Obviously, the regulations have changed a lot since then, so let’s see how that goes. Clearly, McLaren and Ferrari aren’t hanging round as well. Qualifying has tightened up a lot in the last few events and so have the races, as we saw. Silverstone would have been a track where you would think we could have been a bit more competitive or more dominant compared to the high standards we have set around some particular venues around the world, and this one you might pick as well. So, find out Sunday night.”

The Australian has been third place in the last four races, and added: “I think it’s been consistent. I suppose all of us want to do better, that’s human nature. I’ve had some good fights. The last race was a very good grand prix from all of us fighting for the victory, and it went Lewis’s way. Yeah, it’s better than having five fifths in a row. But to get the win you need everything perfect, even for second for that matter. To bang out podiums you still need to get a lot of things right, so I’m not getting too carried away with a good run of results, but to go the next step you’ve just got to tick the last few boxes and just get it done.”

Another driver with memories of Hungaroring is Felipe Massa, but they are less happy after his unpleasant accident here in qualifying in 2009 when he was struck on the head by a detached spring from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn.

“It’s a circuit I really enjoy to drive,” said the man who dominated the 2008 race until his Ferrari’s engine broke. “I always had little problems on the weekends here. I remember in 2007 in the qualifying I had a problem and sat on the back. In 2008, I was leading, three laps to go, and I had an engine fail. In 2009, my accident. So, every year something happens. Last year was the best one, I finished fourth, and I hope this year we can have a good direction, finish on the podium, also try to win. But anyway, it is a place I always enjoy to come here. Especially after my accident. I have a lot of fans here so really like the people here. I was with my doctor, the doctor who operated on me, yesterday, so it always a great pleasure as this is a good side. It is something that you never forget and this is a good point and also I hope I can have all this good energy for a good weekend as well.”

David Tremayne

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