The drivers look ahead to Hungary 11 Aug 2004
The men at the wheel on the coming weekend's race
Whos expecting what from the all important Hungaroring clash, the 13th round of the 2004 FIA Formula One World Championship.
Jarno Trulli, Renault:
(Q: The R24 is very strong in high-downforce configuration: can you repeat your Monaco success in Hungary?) I certainly hope we can perform as well as we did in Monaco! I was unlucky in Germany to be slowed by a very unusual problem, but I was very quick during the first part of the race and I am happy with our competitiveness. Although there has been a testing ban over the past weeks, we will have a new engine spec in Hungary, new aero parts and the track suits our car. We are confident of being very competitive.
(Q: The Hungaroring is very dusty off line: how important is precision over a full race distance?) As usual, you have to keep pushing until the very end of the race, and maintain your concentration all the way through. In Hungary, there is also the problem of the circuit being very dirty off line - if you run wide you will lose positions because it takes a long time to clean the tyres off. So, you can't afford any mistakes.
(Q: What are the main characteristics of the circuit from the driver's point of view?) It is quite a fun circuit to drive, with so many corners, but it is not comfortable: the track surface is very bumpy. We have to set the car up to give a lot of mechanical grip in the slower corners, but also run quite soft to make the car driveable over the bumps. Also the circuit changes a lot as the dust blows around, so it can be quite tricky to get the car handling well and going quickly.
Fernando Alonso, Renault:
(Q: You are returning to the scene of your first Grand Prix win. How does it feel?) It is going to be a special race for me I think. This was always one of my favourite circuits anyway, and it is a nice feeling to look back and remember last year. I am feeling confident: we were fast in Hungary in 2003, we have been fast with maximum downforce already this season in Monaco, so I hope we can have a good race, and maybe be in with a chance to win.
(Q: This is a circuit where overtaking is very difficult: what makes it fun to drive?) It is the style of the corners. They are quite slow, but very difficult to get right for the entire lap: you need a very precise style. Also, there are series of four or five corners where if you get one line wrong, it affects all the next corners too, so you cannot make any small mistakes. Plus it is high grip on the racing line, and very low grip and dusty off it. You can attack in some parts of the circuit, and need to be more cautious in others. The demands make it a big test for a driver.
(Q: When working on set-up, what do you concentrate on?) Mechanical grip is the area we look at a lot. The downforce is at maximum, and the engine needs good torque but maximum power is not so important. So what we really need to look at is mechanical grip through the slow corners and also good traction out of them. The other thing we need to work hard on is the tyres: you have to look after them more in Hungary than at Monaco. But I am confident we will bring good tyres, and am happy with the choice that we have made.
Giancarlo Fisichella, Sauber:
"The Hungaroring is one of my favourite circuits. It's twisting, demanding, and has lots of corners that flow one after another in combinations of medium- and low-speed. The ambient and track temperatures are always high, so it's hard physically and mentally. I like that.
"The 2004 Bridgestone tyres will be much better suited to the track, after the company has made big steps forward, and this will go hand-in-hand with the major step we made with our lower engine cover at Silverstone."
Felipe Massa, Sauber:
"The Hungaroring is a bit like a kart track, and although I haven't seen the modifications that were made since I was last there I think the character changed only slightly. It's a tough place. The straights are so short that you can never relax there, it's one corner coming after another. So it's doubly important to keep your concentration. It's very difficult to overtake there. You need a speed advantage around two seconds a lap to be able to overtake on track, as opposed to in the pits.
"I'm looking forward to the race. I had a very good one in 2002 when I finished seventh after all of the top teams' cars finished, and I fought my team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella (who was at that time with Jordan) all the way. This year I know Bridgestone will have a good tyre for the track, so hopefully I can score a similar result to earn some more points for the team."
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams:
The summer break was a good chance for some time off. I went back to Colombia and really managed to take a break. Now I am ready to face the last part of this season, where we really need to collect as many points as we can for our Championship position.
I'm always happy to go to Budapest, as I really like the city. However, the Hungaroring is still not one of my favourite tracks, despite the improved layout following the changes made the year before last. The start/finish straight was made wider and some other parts were extended which has made the track a bit longer. However, it is still too twisty, narrow and slow, like a kart track. You don't need much power at the Hungaroring, but you do need downforce and, as a driver, you must find a good rhythm. As well as this, starting position and strategy both play very important roles as overtaking is very difficult. Outside the racing line, the track is very dirty and dusty and offers low grip. In the last few years I always started on that side so I'm hoping this year will be different!
Antonio Pizzonia, Williams:
I am obviously very pleased to be racing again and I thank the team for trusting me again. I went back to Brazil after the German Grand Prix to see my family and friends and had really a good time. In Manaus, I trained a lot in the heat, usually at lunchtime, when the temperature goes up to 35°C, in order to prepare for Hungary's hot weather conditions. I feel fit and am looking forward to hopefully scoring some more points for the team. I like the Hungaroring, as it's quite a different track from the rest of the Formula One circuits. It's a bit tricky, with a lot of slow speed corners, and is extremely dirty, mostly on Friday and Saturday. Budapest is a great city so, all in all, I am really looking forward to the next Grand Prix.
Michael Schumacher, Ferrari:
I think the competition in general is always alive and our competitors will make things very difficult for us. As I have said before, it is a general attitude. Naturally, I cannot know if they have done anything during the break but I think that there will not be any drastic changes, though we cannot rule out the possibility that some teams may have made extreme modifications. In any case, I don't see why in Hungary we shouldn't fight for first place. In my opinion, Renault, BAR-Honda and McLaren-Mercedes will do well but our car is good and I will be going all out for victory.
David Coulthard, McLaren:
"I am looking forward to getting back to racing at the Hungaroring after the summer break, which as always was a great opportunity for everyone who travels to recharge their batteries and see family and friends. I spent some days training in Switzerland before taking a short break. Fitness is a key aspect in Hungary as it is traditionally extremely hot and is also a physically demanding circuit, with constant cornering and gear changing similar to Monaco, so endurance is vital. It is the shortest and slowest circuit after Monte Carlo, and sees us use a high downforce configuration. In addition to its tight, twisty nature, the Hungaroring also has a number of gradient changes and some strange cambers. Overtaking is limited, but it is a circuit where you can build up a good rhythm so it is enjoyable to drive. As we showed in Germany, the car is continuing to improve and hopefully I will be able to have an incident free race and challenge for a podium finish."
Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren:
"I always enjoy the Hungarian Grand Prix due to the great atmosphere that all the Finnish fans create. It is a long-standing tradition for thousands of them to attend the race so it is like a home grand prix for me, and hopefully we will be able to secure a good result in front of them. The Hungaroring is famed for its dusty surface and although this clears up from the racing line during the first couple of sessions, we have the problem of the dust and rubber marbles from the tyres off-line throughout the weekend. The track surface is fairly abrasive so there are usually quite a lot of marbles, and this makes it difficult to overtake because as soon as you go off the racing line the track is very slippery, but you just have to be particularly careful. The best places to make a move are the first and second corners, and also into the new turn 12, which was modified for last year's race. Because of the lack of grip and the need to use the kerbs a lot to get a good lap time, a balanced car is vital, which is a key area that has improved with MP4-19B."
Mark Webber, Jaguar:
"It has been a busy few weeks since our last race in Hockenheim. We scored three Championship points which has once again highlighted the pace and reliability of the Jaguar R5. Since scoring those points I have also taken the decision to drive for BMW-Williams in the 2005 season. Now that this decision has been made I am keen to ensure that we at Jaguar Racing make the most of the competitive package we have. Looking ahead to the Hungaroring, we will need high-downforce on the car. The track has few over-taking possibilities and the corners are mostly slow. I enjoyed a very good weekend there last year as I was in the top three in both Friday and Saturday qualifying and then brought the car home in sixth place in the race. A repeat performance would be ideal but given how strong everyone is right now, points will not be easy. The Jaguar R5 is very well balanced and rewarding to drive, especially since we strengthened further its aerodynamic capabilities prior to the British Grand Prix. Tyres, as always, will be critical at the hot and dusty Hungaroring and our Friday morning session will be vital towards understanding better our true potential over the course of the weekend. Technically speaking, this is not an easy track to master but very rewarding when you get it right."
Christian Klien, Jaguar:
"Since finishing the race in Germany I have been spending much time with my family and friends back home in Austria. I was on a high after Hockenheim as I had finished on the same lap as the leader, not getting lapped and maintaining the racing line is crucial to scoring points. I am now upbeat going into Hungary as I know that we have a car that is more than capable of scoring points. The Hungaroring is not a track that I know well, although I have been around it a couple of times in an F3000 car. I am going to be making the most of Friday testing as always to ensure that I get to know the track as soon as possible. Since Budapest is so close to Austria I am very much hoping that there will be many Austrian fans. It is definitely one of the closest races for me from home so it's almost like a home race. I am very keen to score points for the team here as we have been progressing so much recently and I am really enjoying driving the car. Points are what we are capable of so I am ready to go out and get some. Cosworth Racing is making good steps forward with the engine so I know that between them, Michelin, the team and I we are in a good position going into the weekend".
Bjorn Wirdheim, third driver, Jaguar:
"I have raced at the Hungaroring for the previous two years with F3000, so it's a track I know relatively well. I finished second there last year and I enjoyed the race. The track has had a few modifications over the years although despite this there are still few overtaking opportunities. However, this year that will not concern me as much as my job will be to focus on Friday testing and assess our tyres. The circuit can be quite dusty and you certainly need to keep on the racing-line as if you come off, even slightly, you lose your grip rapidly. Since our last race weekend in Germany I have been busy training with our team physio and I have also managed to get back home to Sweden and see my family and friends. I am now fully motivated going into Hungary and I am really excited about these last six races. The season has gone so quickly already and so we are now really keen to make sure that we get the most out of the remaining races. The R5 is feeling really good at the moment and I know that we can score some more points before the season finishes."
Ricardo Zonta, Toyota:
"I am very happy to have been given the chance to race for Toyota. This season has been highly positive for me and I have been very pleased with the job I have done as Third Driver. My last race was in Hockenheim back in 2001, but racing is in my blood and it gives me a real motivation boost. The Hungarian GP will be a weekend of firsts for me; my first as a Toyota race driver, my first in the new TF104B chassis and my debut on the new format Hungaroring. We conducted some encouraging Michelin tyre tests at Jerez prior to Hockenheim especially for this race, so all in all, I am in an optimistic frame of mind."
Olivier Panis, Toyota:
"The Hungaroring has traditionally been one of the most difficult circuits for overtaking, but the changes made to the circuit for last year's race weekend improved this quite a bit. The Hungaroring is not used much outside of the F1 weekend, so it is very dusty on the opening day, which adds to its challenging nature. I have good memories of the track though, because I got a couple of good results there in the past. Panasonic Toyota Racing introduced a revised race car, the TF104B, at the German Grand Prix, which was a step in the right direction, but unfortunately the race result did not reflect our performance, something I hope we can put right in Hungary."
Ryan Briscoe, third driver, Toyota:
"I am really looking forward to making my race weekend debut for Panasonic Toyota Racing in Hungary. I have been part of the Toyota family since the start of 2001 when I joined the Toyota Drivers Academy, as it is now known. The hard work I have put in over the past three years through junior racing formulae and subsequently as a Toyota F1 test driver has now come to fruition. Whilst the pressure will undoubtedly be heightened as part of the race team, it is an excellent opportunity for me to show what I am capable of in front of a much bigger audience. I raced at the Hungaroring in 2001 and although the layout has changed slightly since then, I hope to get straight down to business on Friday morning with Michelin tyre evaluation. I can't wait to get started."
Jenson Button, BAR:
"We should have similar competitiveness as we did at the German Grand Prix since the Hungaroring suits our car well. Budapest itself is a great city and the atmosphere during the Grand Prix weekend is fantastic as the fans are very supportive and enthusiastic. I am really looking forward to getting back in the car after the break, focusing on doing the best job possible for the team."
Takuma Sato, BAR:
"I haven't driven the new Hungaroring circuit yet, but it looks more interesting now with the additional overtaking opportunities. Our car has basically been a very strong package all year, even though we recently experienced a few races where our performance was not as we expected. However, at the last race in Germany I felt that we were heading back in the right direction, so I believe that a good result is possible for us in Hungary. I have had a nice holiday over the past two weeks and am really looking forward to getting back to racing next week."
Nick Heidfeld, Jordan:
"My holiday time was spent at home in Switzerland which was very nice because of all the travel we do during the season. The weather was really good and I enjoyed doing a lot of training outdoors.
Now Im definitely looking forward to getting back into the car after a relatively long time away from racing. Im excited about going to Hungary as its a circuit I enjoy very much, its quite a tight track and very technical - a little bit like Monaco but obviously without the city mixed in with the circuit itself. Its a Grand Prix venue with good feelings for me because I won my F3000 title here in 1999 and also I like the city very much, so Im looking forward to the whole event.
Giorgio Pantano, Jordan:
I spent the break between races close to my home town, Padova. There is a beach there in the province of Venice called Sottomarina and I rented a small apartment and a little boat and just spent the days training on the beach early each morning and again in the evening, relaxing in-between training sessions. I like staying close to home because you never know if you might be needed by the team so its best not to go too far away; also we spend a lot of time travelling around the world so it was great to spend some time at home.
I am excited about the next race as it feels like a long time since the last one, and I have been to the Hungaroring before in F3000. I scored my first F3000 points here in 2001 and I like the track, although I know its very difficult because the weather is always hot and humid which makes it physically challenging. Its a short track, quite technical, not as fast as some of the others and to be honest its quite difficult to overtake - so its very important to do well in qualifying.
Timo Glock, third driver, Jordan:
It has been relaxing to spend time at home during the last couple of weeks and I have enjoyed seeing some friends and family. I also concentrated on my fitness training and having a normal life for a short while! The time between races at this point in the season gives you a chance to reflect and evaluate how things are going. I think the first 12 races have been quite good and overall Im pleased with my performances, which have been quite consistent with not too many mistakes. I have learnt a lot of F1 circuits, and the processes of working with the team and engineers. For the rest of the season I will be pushing harder to help the team with its free practice programme and also for me, to get good results in preparation for next year when I aim to get a race drive.
Im looking forward to learning the Hungaroring. I have never been there although I have been on holiday in Budapest before. I have been looking closely at the circuit on TV footage: it looks quite small with a lot of corners, and I think it will be very important to find a good tyre for the race distance.