Toyotas Pascal Vasselon on the Hungaroring 30 Jul 2008
Ahead of this weekends Hungarian Grand Prix, Pascal Vasselon, Toyotas senior general manager (chassis), discusses the demands of the Hungaroring and reveals how well he expects the teams TF108 machine will perform
Q: Hockenheim was looking like one of Timo Glock's strongest races yet, was he likely to score points?
Pascal Vasselon: Timo was definitely in with a great chance of scoring points and we can say that sixth place was within his reach. His qualifying result was not what we hoped for but it meant we could choose the best available strategy to allow him to stay close to the cars in front on his first stint and then get ahead at the pit stops, because he was fuelled longer. It was all working to plan and Timo was driving really well. He was in good shape and he was realistically targeting sixth. It was a very good performance and he is on a very satisfying learning curve.
Q: What are the main considerations looking forward to the Hungaroring?
PV: At Silverstone and Hockenheim we operate with what we call a baseline car, with a medium-high downforce level, but in Budapest we have an aero efficiency requirement much closer to Monaco. All teams run high downforce because of the lay-out and the density of corners. Also, it can present a range of cooling issues. The average speed is lower and there is quite a lot of braking, so we are always careful with brake and engine cooling. We have to keep an eye on that but the main challenge in Budapest is tyre related. In terms of lateral severity it ranks quite high but at the same time the grip of the asphalt is quite low. You can easily end up with a soft tyre that has grip but which is destroyed after half a lap, or a hard tyre which never finds grip. You can have these extreme situations and usually people try to go with the soft tyre and make it survive the race. We will go there with the two softest tyre compounds for a decent level of grip but we already know that the super soft will struggle with graining. It will be all about graining management throughout the weekend.
Q: Did you run the Hungary-spec tyres in testing at Jerez?
PV: No. We were testing at Jerez so the soft tyres were not suitable for that track in the hot conditions so Bridgestone took the medium/hard compound spec. However, we have plenty of data about the soft tyres and we know what to expect, so we are well prepared.
Q: How important is track temperature in Budapest?
PV: Track temperature is very important in Hungary, again because of its impact on the tyre working window. Going there we always expect high temperatures but in 2006 it was cold. Most of the teams were in deep trouble in the dry but were saved by rain in the race. It was a progressive switch from damp conditions to dry and the soft compound survived. If we'd had a full dry race in 2006 things would have been very interesting because of the unexpectedly cold temperatures, but you can't pre-order the weather!
Q: How do you expect the TF108 to perform in high downforce trim?
PV: We have made further developments on our high downforce package since Monaco and we are pretty happy with the results and looking forward to Budapest. We were in the top six there last year so we are optimistic.
Q: The midfield now seems to be even closer if that's possible?
PV: Absolutely. It's a really close fight and there are a lot of teams grouped together. You still have McLaren and Ferrari at the top but then a group with BMW, Toyota, Red Bull, Renault and Toro Rosso now. Williams has dropped off a little bit but it's always close and if they have a good weekend they can for sure be fighting in this area. It's going to be a tough battle between now and the end of the year. It's tight with Red Bull and Renault is there too after the result in Germany, but it's our objective to stay fourth in the constructors' championship. We are ready for the challenge.