Hungarian Grand Prix - team and driver preview quotes 21 Jul 2009
With a distinct absence of high-speed corners and the expectation of hot summer temperatures, the Hungaroring is a unique and demanding challenge. And as Budapest beckons, the drivers and senior team members discuss their prospects for the race...
Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone director of motorsport tyre development
"The Hungaroring is an interesting circuit, especially as it is not used much during the year. This means the circuit grip levels experienced on Friday are likely to be very different from those experienced in the race. For deciding set-up and tyre strategy, this makes things difficult, and competitors will have to work hard. Tyre management, particularly with graining, is very important, and qualifying position is crucial as overtaking is difficult. Also, we are ever mindful of the weather as it can get very hot there, although we have seen rain in the past, notably when Jenson Button scored his first Formula One race victory in 2006.
"We are bringing consecutive tyres from our range to Hungary because of the slippery surface and the circuit layout. This is the slowest speed permanent race circuit that we visit during the course of the season, and the surface itself is not aggressive enough to help generate heat in the tyres. The super soft and the soft Bridgestones are both from our low temperature working range of tyres. This makes it easier for the teams and drivers to generate heat and get the best performance from them."
Jenson Button, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 14th, 2008 Race - 12th
"Hungary is always one of my favourite races and even more so this year as it should finally be a return to some real summer temperatures! The circuit holds some very special memories for me as the venue of my first Formula One win three years ago and it's fantastic to be going back there with the chance to compete for the win again. The Hungaroring is quite a challenging circuit as it is so twisty and there's no real respite round the lap but it is a lot of fun to drive. The lap has a good rhythm and mix of slow-speed and high-speed turns. The circuit generates an incredible amount of grip as the weekend gets underway which can provide a real challenge in finding the right set-up. I've been at home in Monaco for the past week concentrating on my training but I know that the guys at the factory and at Mercedes-Benz have been working really hard on our latest upgrade package and I just can't wait to get back in the car."
Rubens Barrichello, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 17th, 2008 Race - 16th
"Budapest is a wonderful city and there's always a great atmosphere around the circuit for the race weekend. The Hungaroring has been pretty good to me in the past with one win and a couple of podiums so it's a track that I enjoy returning to, particularly with a good car as we have this year. Germany and Silverstone have been frustrating races for us, despite the podium at Silverstone, so we will be looking to start the second half of the season afresh this weekend and focus on getting the maximum performance from the car and our upgrades. The Hungaroring is a pretty physical track which combined with the usual high temperatures make it a tough challenge for the drivers but that's what we enjoy. It's not that easy to overtake through the slow corners here so it places the emphasis on having a good qualifying session on Saturday and being able to start from as high up the grid as possible. The feedback from the factory is that our upgrades for this weekend should be a step forward so we're feeling positive going into the weekend."
Ross Brawn, Brawn GP team principal
"The last two races at Silverstone and the Nurburgring have been frustrating for the team as we have not been able to achieve the full potential of our car at the same time as our competitors have taken a good step forward. However we are confident that the inherent performance of the BGP 001 which was demonstrated during the first half of the season has not disappeared and the problems that we faced were unique to the circumstances of those races. Our focus now is to maximise the performance that we know is in the car whilst continuing to develop improvements which will maintain our championship challenge. We have a significant aerodynamic upgrade for the race in Budapest which will bring performance gains in efficiency, downforce and aero balance but we face a fierce battle and we must continue to improve for the rest of the season. The team has faced many challenges to arrive where we are today and I am confident that we have the people and resources, plus two excellent drivers, to respond and fight to maintain our position of leading the constructors' and drivers' championships."
Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India
2008 Qualifying - 18th, 2008 Race - 15th
Germany was obviously very positive for the whole team. Yet again we raced very well and got a good finish, coming from 18th to just outside the points. But when you look at the last two races we're really improving - I came from 16th to 10th in Silverstone and then moved up another seven positions in Germany, not because of the weather but because the team is now genuinely competitive. I feel pretty confident for Hungary as we're just getting better and better. We can see our pace is much more competitive and we are really racing. I enjoy driving the car and I'm looking forward to this next race. As our qualifying pace has really made a step forward and the Hungaroring is all about where you start and the strategy so I'm very positive of a good finish.
Adrian Sutil, Force India
2008 Qualifying - 20th, 2008 Race - DNF
The Hungaroring is a good track, one of the smaller circuits, with a lot of corners so in some respects it's a bit like a kart track. It is actually challenging as each of the corners are different, some 180 degrees and some long, some in third gear. It's very bumpy in places, which also makes it a bit more difficult to drive, but overall there's a good flow to it. Our goal has to be in Q2 again and then I would say get as close as we can to the top 10. We want to stay in the midfield where we are right now. We are always waiting for the points now and we are nearly there. This has to be the goal for the season and the few last races.
Dr Vijay Mallya, Force India chairman and team principal
I am confident that Germany was not just a one-hit wonder for us. We always said the first few races would be compromised by the late signing of the McLaren and Mercedes deal but since then we've been introducing new upgrades and each one has been a step forward. We had hoped that this progress would be reflected in Silverstone, but due to events on track, we couldn't show the full potential. In Germany this is what you saw. Over the course of the season so far we've calculated we've improved by something like 1.7 seconds, which I don't think any other team has done. It's been done by solid hard work and not just getting lucky. I genuinely think that we are Q2 contenders for the rest of the season, and with Hungary being a circuit where qualifying is so crucial, we're in with a shot of a good finish. We're so close to points we can almost touch them. It has to be soon.
Nico Rosberg, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 14th, 2008 Race - 14th
The Hungaroring is a completely different type of track to the Nurburgring. Its quite slow and twisty, and is a maximum downforce circuit which should suit our car. It will definitely be hotter over there than it was in Germany so we can look forward to a bit of an easier weekend when it comes to set-up as we'll be able to get the tyres up to temperature. Traditionally, Williams has always gone well round Budapest and I hope that will be the case this year and we continue our strong form. Budapest is a great city. Its filled with cool bars and restaurants, not that I can go out much, but its really vibrant and so one of the more enjoyable places we visit in the year.
Kazuki Nakajima, Williams
2008 Qualifying - 16th, 2008 Race - 13th
The Hungaroring is probably one of my favourites tracks on the calendar. Its going to be a tough race because of the temperatures in Hungary at this time of year, and just because of the nature of the circuit. Its a very slow track, a little bit like Monaco in that the corners are all slow and medium speed. Overtaking will therefore be difficult because there arent many long straights, so qualifying will be really important. I think we will be competitive there. I know Budapest is a beautiful city but Ive never really explored it as I havent ever had the time. I hope that this year I will have some time to look around, or go out in the evening to a restaurant for a good local meal. Its always nice when we go to such interesting cities like Budapest, it just makes the weekend more exciting.
Jarno Trulli, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - 9th, 2008 Race - 7th
"I enjoy visiting Budapest, and the Hungarian Grand Prix is an enjoyable one for me. The Hungaroring is a challenging track from a driver's perspective because it is very narrow with a lot of corners, even though it is quite a short lap. It might not be one of the fastest tracks on the calendar but it is actually good fun to drive, although you have to keep your concentration because you get punished badly by going off line. It is very close among several teams at the moment so it is difficult to predict what will happen in Hungary but if we can do a smooth weekend with no problems then we will be competitive. The last race weekend was very frustrating for me because we had a lot more performance than the result showed but we are all determined to make up for that with a good points finish in Hungary."
Timo Glock, Toyota
2008 Qualifying - 5th, 2008 Race - 2nd
"Obviously Hungary is a special race in my career after the podium there last season. That was the first of several strong points finishes for me and I hope another competitive weekend there can get the ball rolling again this year. I am in a positive mood and optimistic I can score again. It was disappointing to just miss the points at the last race, especially in front of my home fans, but I made up 11 places after starting from the pit lane so we have the potential to finish much higher. One of my targets this weekend will be to get a perfect lap in qualifying because that has been an issue in the last couple of races for various reasons. Lap times are really close this year so if you are a tenth or two off your maximum pace in qualifying you can drop a few positions and that makes life harder in the race. We'll be pushing as hard as possible and I am sure we will bounce back."
Pascal Vasselon, Toyota senior general manager chassis:
"We are looking forward with optimism to the Hungarian Grand Prix. Even though the Hungaroring is a low average speed circuit it consists mainly of medium-speed corners with very few really slow corners, but still you need plenty of downforce. The track is quite hard on brakes, which is demanding in terms of braking stability and cooling. Also, tyre grip and consistency management can be a challenge because the track surface and lay-out are very specific; it is low grip with high cornering severity. That created a risk that the hard specifications would struggle for grip while the soft specs could suffer severe graining but Bridgestone has reacted so we will use the soft and super soft tyre to avoid that situation. We are likely to face high ambient temperatures this weekend but the cooling efficiency of our car is very good so we can cope with these conditions without degrading the aerodynamic performance."
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari
2008 Qualifying - 6th, 2008 Race - 3rd
Traditionally this is some sort of a home race for us Finns, because there are so many fellow countrymen on the grandstands. Ill show up with a new rear wing, which worked really well on Felipes car and theres the possibility that well have further modifications. The F60 should run pretty well at the Hungaroring with its many slow corners; furthermore the temperatures should be slightly higher than at the weekend in Germany: it would be great to gain another podium.
Felipe Massa, Ferrari
2008 Qualifying - 3rd, 2008 Race - 17th
I havent got very good results at this race but that doesnt mean I dont race well there: if you remember last year I had the win in my pocket, but then my engine unfortunately let me down with just two laps to go. Its a nice circuit to drive even if its not really one of my favourites, but ask me how we will get on in this race and to be honest I really dont know. I hope we can carry on making improvements to our package, carrying on in the same direction as in Germany.
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 1st, 2008 Race - 5th
The Hungaroring is one of the most demanding circuits for drivers because youre busy throughout the entire lap. Its a bit like a kart circuit - there are lots of twists and turns and the only place to relax is along the start/finish straight, which is quite short. Its also quite low-grip which makes overtaking particularly tricky. But I really enjoy the place - I won here in 2007 and was on pole last year. Its a circuit that really rewards consistent, precise driving - push too hard and you tend to lose rather than gain time. Given the potential we showed in Germany last weekend, Im hopeful of getting a result that demonstrates the improvement weve made over the past few weeks.
Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren
2008 Qualifying - 2nd, 2008 Race - 1st
Obviously, I won in Hungary in 2008 so it will be nice to come back to Budapest again. This race is likely to be won or lost in qualifying: youve got to be at the front and run an aggressive first stint if you are to succeed in the race. The track is also quite hard on tyres so you need to find a balance that will allow you to look after your rubber until the finish - the softer rubber, in particular, tends to suffer at the end of the race so you have to be careful. Im really looking to running the teams new upgrade package this weekend. I had a strong weekend at the Nurburgring and I didnt let a single car past me in the race - with the improved car Im really hopeful of getting another strong result at the Hungaroring.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal
While Lewis demonstrated during practice and qualifying at the Nurburgring that our upgrade package appears to provide us with a sizeable step forward in performance, it was frustrating that damage to the rear bodywork left us unable to fully ascertain that benefit in the race itself. For Budapest, both Lewis and Heikki will be equipped with the new package and we are hopeful that it will enable us to mount a more sustained attack towards the front of the field. The Hungaroring is a circuit where we as a team have enjoyed many successes in the past and we travel there this weekend hoping to provide concrete evidence that were decisively turning our fortunes around for the remainder of the season.
Norbert Haug, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President
"The Grand Prix circuit just outside Budapest is, after Monaco, the one with the lowest average speed. The layout, consisting of more slower corners, where mechanical grip is especially important, should suit us quite well - as demonstrated already in Monaco. However, I currently would consider our technical performance still not good enough to repeat last years victory with Heikki - but in any case we at least have been in the lead for a few metres at the Nurburgring - until Lewiss right-rear tyre was hit which caused a deflated tyre, damaging the underfloor - which prevented Lewis later from achieving good lap times. Everybody in the team is giving it their all to continue the upward trend with both cars.
Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 4th, 2008 Race - 8th
Hungary is a very special Grand Prix for me. In 2006 I made my debut there, and there are always a lot of Polish fans as Budapest is quite close to Poland. Last year was amazing - it was like being in Poland. The Hungaroring is very special, tricky and physically demanding. Driving the main straight is the only time you can recover. Almost over the entire track you leave one corner and immediately approach the next. Beyond that, it is very hot in Hungary, which makes it demanding for the driver and the tyres. As a lot of corners are quite bumpy, the cars balance will be another crucial factor.
Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber
2008 Qualifying - 15th, 2008 Race - 10th
Im very fond of the Hungaroring. The track suits me and I also have some good memories of racing there and achieving good results in the past. It was in Hungary in 1999 that I secured an early championship title in Formula 3000, and in 2006 and 2007 I was on the podium for BMW Sauber. We can generally expect high air temperatures in Hungary. That doesnt bother me from a physical point of view, although the races on this twisty circuit are always exhausting, and it could help us get the tyres into the temperature window to work well. One drawback in terms of grip, especially at the start of the weekend, is always the dust that blows onto the track from the surrounding landscape.
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport director
This year our team heads for the Hungarian Grand Prix with muted expectations. So far our car just hasnt been fast enough for any top placings. We are nevertheless working flat-out on ongoing development of the F1.09 - for two reasons. This years new aerodynamic regulations will remain the same for next season. What we are learning from our present car will flow virtually 1:1 into the concept for the F1.10. Besides that, under the test ban in force, the race weekend offers the only chance to track-test new developments and components. Its an opportunity that has to be utilised. Beyond that, we naturally want to prove to our fans and, not least, to ourselves that we are also capable of reversing a deficit.
Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber head of engineering
After Monaco, the Hungaroring has the second-lowest average speed of all the Formula One circuits. The mainly slow and medium-fast corners follow in quick succession and the start/finish straight is relatively short. Because dust continually blows onto the track, grip levels tend to be low at the beginning of each of the practice sessions, which can lead to understeer. For the car set-up the focus is primarily on the middle sector with its variety of corner combinations. Another factor that has to be taken into account is that the rear tyres come under heavy loads during the race. Air and track temperatures are traditionally very high in Hungary, which should favour the optimal use of tyres.
Fernando Alonso, Renault
2008 Qualifying - 7th, 2008 Race - 4th
"The memories of my win in 2003 in Hungary are very special as it was also Renault's first victory since returning to Formula One and it gave the whole team a lot of motivation and self-belief. I always enjoy visiting Budapest as it's a beautiful city, the people are friendly and there is usually a relaxed atmosphere in the paddock as everybody is looking forward to their summer holidays. It's one of the slowest tracks of the season and you are almost constantly in a corner so the track is quite demanding mentally and physically, especially with the high temperatures. With so many low-speed corners you need a stable front end because if you understeer wide it will cost you a lot of time. Good traction and mechanical grip are also important to get a clean exit from the slow corners. Overtaking is really difficult and the only real opportunity is into turn one at the end of the main straight, so it's important that we maximise our performance in qualifying so we can start the race well inside the top ten.
Nelson Piquet, Renault
2008 Qualifying - 10th, 2008 Race - 6th
I enjoyed Hungary last year and it was probably one of my best races as I finished sixth. It's also a circuit where I won in GP2. Although there are no quick corners, it's a fun place to drive and the twisty layout makes it feel like a go-kart track. It's still quite challenging and you have to find the rhythm of the circuit and be accurate through the slow corners as the exit of one corner is the entry to the next. Any mistakes therefore cost you a lot of time. I should have the same upgrades as Fernando in Hungary and I think I can be more competitive. As always I will be aiming to qualify in the top ten and hopefully score some points in the race. Qualifying will be vital as it's so tough to overtake at the Hungaroring because the braking zones are small and it's very dirty offline, so it's important that we concentrate on getting the most from Saturday.
Bob Bell, Renault technical director
In Germany we only had the new updates on Fernando's car, but next weekend Nelson will have the same upgrades as Fernando. There will also be some more bodywork updates that should take us another step further forward. Hungary will also give us more time to optimise all the previous upgrades in terms of car set-up, so I expect to see further benefits coming from the upgrade package we introduced in Germany. The problems we have been experiencing with the car in the first half of the year have not been related to specific circuit characteristics and are more general as we were lacking a little bit of performance in all areas of the car. To some extent those deficiencies have been corrected by the recent upgrades and so there's no reason why we can't produce a similar level of performance in Hungary as we did in Germany. The Hungaroring is also a circuit Fernando enjoys and has always gone well at so I think he can be competitive again.
More to follow.