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Hungary - selected driver preview quotes 27 Jul 2005

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Practice, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 1 April 2005 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Nurburgring, Germany, 28 May 2005 Felipe Massa (BRA) Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, San Marino Grand Prix, Preparations, Imola, Italy, 21 April 2005 Mark Webber (AUS) Williams BMW FW27.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, 7 May 2005

Four of the current drivers have won at the Hungaroring in the past (Fernando Alonso, Rubens Barrichello, Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve). Will a fifth be added to the list his weekend? The candidates discuss their prospects for the Budapest race.

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren
2004 Qualifying - 10th, 2004 Race - DNF

"I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel this weekend and working with the team to take a good result. Hungary is always really hot, but it has been like that at some of the last races already, so it is not a problem. The track's layout is similar to Monaco, it is very short and slow, this makes it feel quite like a karting circuit. Also there are lots of corners and gear changes like Monte Carlo, and in the heat it means it is quite tough physically. As there are no real chances to overtake, so qualifying is very important, and unfortunately I will be going out first so will be affected by the dusty track, but the car is quick and I will push hard. I always enjoy Hungary as there is always a really good atmosphere because of all the Finns come down to the race. It is like a home Grand Prix for me, and I hope I can give the thousands of Finnish fans something to cheer about."

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren
2004 Qualifying - 7th, 2004 Race - 4th

"The track in Hungary is very dusty when we get there, it does clear up on the racing lines after the first few sessions, but is really dirty off line for the whole weekend. This means it is very slippery once you get off the racing line, which makes it tricky to overtake and there is no room for error. Because of the lack of grip and the need to use the kerbs a lot, we need to make sure the car is well balanced. We use a high downforce, but need to make sure to set the car up so that it is fast on the main straight, as the first corner is the only place to overtake if you get a good run down into it The Hungaroring is not one of my favourite tracks, but it has got better since the changes were made a couple of years ago."

Alexander Wurz, third driver, McLaren
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"The characteristics of the Hungaroring demand a very precise set-up, it is a very tight and technical circuit. In addition to tyre selection with Michelin I will also spend some time on Friday working on this."

Jenson Button, BAR
2004 Qualifying - 4th, 2004 Race - 5th

"Our podium finish in the German Grand Prix has given everyone at the team a boost, so we head to Hungary in high spirits. The Hungaroring is a very twisty circuit and it's also pretty bumpy. It's not one of my favourites when it comes to the actual racing because it is so hard to overtake. It's also a tough race for the drivers physically because the temperatures are usually so hot. We can lose around two to two and a half kilos around there when the temperatures are high in the thirties. I did reasonably well in Hungary last year so I'm looking forward to going back, especially after the result we had in Hockenheim this weekend."

Takuma Sato, BAR
2004 Qualifying - 3rd, 2004 Race - 6th

"The Hungaroring is a difficult circuit to overtake at so qualifying position is even more important. Even though I had a tough race in Hockenheim this weekend, I will start qualifying from a reasonable position which will help. The car is getting better all the time and performed well in German, so I am looking forward to getting to Hungary and I am determined to have a good race there."

Mark Webber, Williams
2004 Qualifying - 11th, 2004 Race - 10th

"The Hungaroring has been a pretty good track for me in the past and while some drivers aren’t that keen, I like competing there. I find it a challenge, a bit like Monte Carlo, making it a very busy track for a driver, although there isn’t much overtaking. Characteristically, it’s quite a hot race and the track changes a lot over the course of the weekend. It starts extremely dirty on Friday as a consequence of not being used much during the year, but it cleans pretty quickly on the first day. Qualifying then becomes crucial because of the difficulty in overtaking. Also starting on the left hand side of the grid is very important because if you are on the right you have no grip at all. So there are lot of things which are very specific to the track in Budapest, which all the teams know. You need very good aerodynamic downforce to cope with all of the corners as well as understanding the tyres very well. I am looking forward to going there, also because we are always welcomed very well in Budapest. It’s a beautiful city and when I find time, I’ve promised to visit in the city in winter.”

Nick Heidfeld, Williams
2004 Qualifying - 16th, 2004 Race - 12th

"I like racing at the Hungaroring a lot. The circuit has many corners and very little straights. That alone makes the racing physically tough. On top of that at this time of the year it is usually very hot in Budapest. The track off the line is always very dusty which means you loose time as soon as you leave the clean part of it. I have very good memories to the Hungaroring. I have not only won races but also claimed the Formula 3000 Championship there in 1999."

Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"I enjoy the race in Hungary, and the general atmosphere. The people get excited about the Grand Prix and it's quite a happening city. It's always been fun racing here. It's a strange track because it doesn't really have straight lines, it turns all the time. That's not normally a good thing, but somehow the layout is actually fun and it has a good rhythm. It's difficult to overtake here; Turn One is probably the only place where you have a realistic chance. It's also always difficult to get a good balance on the car at the Hungaroring, but our car will suit its characteristics. The high ambient and track temperatures also affect tyre wear. In fact, the hotter it is the harder it is on the drivers, and engines as well, but we are now well prepared and realistically I think that we are in good shape for this race."

Felipe Massa, Sauber
2004 Qualifying - 20th, 2004 Race - DNF

"I like this place a lot. The track has a nice layout. It looks quite tight, but actually it isn't. There are several medium- to high-speed corners, and that's always nice. The only problem is that it is very, very difficult to overtake here, so you really have to make the most of the car for qualifying and then you can generally defend in the race if necessary.

"I had a brake problem last year but with a good amount of fuel in free practice I could lap in the top 10, so I think this is a good track for me and I hope that it will suit the Sauber Petronas C24. We have Michelin tyres this year, so I think we should go very well here. I'm really looking forward to this weekend."

Fernando Alonso, Renault
2004 Qualifying - 5th, 2004 Race - 3rd

“Hungary was my first victory in Formula One in 2003, so I have some very good memories! Actually, it is a circuit I like a lot - it is quite slow, but there is a good flow to it for the drivers, and you need a good level of physical preparation to cope with the race in very hot conditions. After taking my first win there, I think the Hungaroring is a little bit more special for me, and I just really enjoy this weekend - the city, the paddock and the atmosphere as well. I am really looking forward to it.

“(The track) is quite complex and the second slowest circuit after Monaco. You need good traction on the exit of the slow corners, but also a stable front end on the car - you need to be completely in control of the car through the long slow corners, and any understeer will cost a lot of time. Also, it may be surprising, but the engine is very important here as well - it needs to be driveable from low revs and to be able to operate in the very high temperatures. It may be a slow track, but it is demanding in a lot of areas.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault
2004 Qualifying - 8th, 2004 Race - 8th

“I really enjoy racing there. It is a difficult circuit, and there are lots of slow speed corners which make it quite challenging for the drivers and engineers. You need to find a good set up to get good traction in the slow parts, but also a nice change of direction and high general grip, which is not always easy on the dusty track. The other things to consider are that this is a tough race for the driver: it is a long race, and with the high temperatures, that makes it very demanding mentally but also physically - there are so many corners that we don't really have time to recover from one lap to the next, so we need good levels of endurance.

“The circuit can be very difficult for the tyres, with a lot of traction and high temperatures, so that is the first thing we need to manage - to get the correct balance between qualifying performance to get a good grid position, and durability in the race. I know Renault has always been very strong there, and I expect the R25 will be very competitive again this year - we have a very consistent balance on the car and it is easy to drive, which is important for such a long race. We have good traction, and the car is strong on the brakes, which is important at a number of places on the track. There are new developments coming too, and we have good positions in qualifying - near the end of the session, when the track conditions are much better. I think we can expect to be very competitive.”

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari
2004 Qualifying - 1st, 2004 Race - 1st

"This is the last race before the brief summer break. Taking into account the results of the last few weeks, it will probably not be an easy race. There are only a few days separating Hockenheim and Budapest and so it is unrealistic to expect big strides to have been made. Naturally, we will go on trying to improve the current state of affairs.

“The Budapest circuit, after the modifications made two years ago, is technically very demanding and, in my opinion, more interesting as a result. However, it is almost impossible to overtake and this has always been a crucial factor here. We will see what we are able to do... I recently stated that I didn't want to make predictions and this stands for Hungary too. We will be trying to do our best."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2004 Qualifying - 9th, 2004 Race - DNF

"After my race to forget at Hockenheim, I'll be looking for a better finish in Hungary. The track is challenging because it is very narrow, with lots of corners in a relatively short lap. It's very difficult for overtaking but it is still quite a fun circuit to drive. It's usually very hot in Budapest and the twisty nature of the circuit means that it tends to be a long race, often close to two hours. You have to keep up your concentration all the way through because the circuit is very dirty off line and you can't afford any mistakes. If you run wide you will go backwards because it takes a long time to clean the tyres off. The track can change as the dust blows around, so it can be quite tricky to get the car handling well and going quickly. When it comes to set-up, the trick is to gain mechanical grip in the slower corners while running quite soft to make the car driveable over the bumps."

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

"Budapest in July is one of the hottest venues that we go to during the year, so we can expect another sweltering weekend. The circuit is not used much outside of the grand prix, so it is extremely dusty on the opening day of practice. The Hungaroring is famous for being one of the hardest circuits for overtaking on the entire calendar, so grid position is particularly important and going out late in the session is an advantage. If you are stuck for long periods in another car's slipstream your car's system temperatures can go up, so we sometimes have to back off during the race to let cooler air run through the car. But a couple of years ago they extended the straight so nothing is impossible. Hopefully we can extend our run of three straight finishes in the points."

Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

“Budapest is a new track for me again this season. It seems not to have many fast corners so I am not sure whether it will suit my driving style or not. Besides, apparently, it is quite difficult to overtake there, therefore it is very important to do well in qualifying. I have tried to learn the circuit on TV and on computer games as well. So basically I know where it goes. It could also be a difficult race because the weather tends to be always hot and humid, which makes it physically challenging.”

Tiago Monteiro, Jordan
2004 Qualifying - NA, 2004 Race - NA

“I raced in Budapest in 2002 in F3000. I really liked the track at the time and now I am really curious to drive there in a Formula One car. The atmosphere is always great in this eastern country, the public is real fans of F1 and the show is always big. The Hungaroring is quite technical and it could suit our cars a bit more than on circuits with high speed corners. It is also often very hot there, so we will have to be well-prepared for that as well.”