From the high speeds of Silverstone, the team’s head to the tighter, more twisting challenge that is Budapest’s Hungaroring circuit. Those involved in next weekend's Formula 1 Pirelli Magyar Nagydij 2017 look ahead to the action...
“It’s always a great pleasure to race in Hungary. It’s a place that’s very important to me, because of the fans and because of everything that happened with my accident there. I have a lot of support from the people there. I love the place and always have a lot of pleasure to go back to Budapest to race.”
“This will be the third track in a row where I have raced before, and so I know what to expect. I was there last year in Formula 3 and had a podium position, so have some good memories. I think it is a great track, although, like Monaco, it is very narrow with lots of corners and not so many straights. Having said that, it is a track I like a lot, and that especially goes for the middle sector which is quite fast with a lot of left and right turns. It has been resurfaced recently, so the track is smooth. All in all it is a great circuit and Budapest is a cool city where I have had some fun.”
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer
“The Hungarian GP is a significant race. Firstly it is the last race before the summer break. All the teams look forward to the two-week shutdown in August, so the event has a real last-day-of-term feel about it, which we all enjoy. On top of that it is a terrific circuit set in its own amphitheatre, meaning fans can get good views of the action from many vantage points, which is quite unusual. The track itself is tricky technically, requiring high downforce and great suspension characteristics. Budapest is an extremely beautiful and interesting city. The combination of these attracts a great crowd over the weekend, not only from Hungary, but from many countries across Europe. From our point of view, we will do our very best to get another double points finish as we head into the summer break.”
Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40 at Formula One World Championship, Rd10, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday 15 July 2017. © Sutton Images
“Off to the last race before the F1 shutdown – the Hungaroring is a track that I have been to a lot in the past couple of years. It is a very technical track with interesting corner combinations. I especially look forward to seeing my Swedish fans there, which motivates me even more to perform well. We will also have new parts on the car, and it will be interesting to see the first insights of this aerodynamic update. Hopefully, it will bring us forward so that we can fight our way into the midfield.”
“I am looking forward to the Hungarian GP, and in particular to the first part of our aerodynamic update which will be introduced there. It will be exciting to see how the adaptations will affect our performance. This will be our last race before the F1 shutdown – I will do my best to perform well and to finish the first half of the season on a positive note.”
Marcus Ericsson (SWE) Sauber at Formula One World Championship, Rd10, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday 16 July 2017. © Sutton Images
“I remember there's a waterpark very close to the circuit – you can see it from the track – but I've never actually been. If I say the truth, it's not something that attracts me to visit, but it's a curious thing to see while driving!
“I'd say last year's qualifying in Hungary was one of my highlights of the season. I remember being P15 in FP3 and suddenly, out of nowhere, putting one of the best laps of my life together in quali, with the intermediate tyres, to end up P4 in Q2 and making it into Q3 – something nobody was expecting! I then went for it on slick tyres on a damp track and ended up P6! I enjoyed it a lot!
“Budapest is one of my favourite cities in the world – it has many historic attractions, good restaurants, the fans are also incredible there: I have a picture on Instagram where you see all the fans around me and it's difficult to find me in the photo! This makes it a special weekend and I feel very loved in Hungary, I have a lot of fans there, which is nice!
“The track is one I like, especially in qualifying – it's quite an intense lap! The race itself, if it doesn't rain, isn't so special because it's quite difficult to overtake there; a bit like Monaco.”
“In Hungary I scored the first ever podium of my F1 career – I have very cool memories from that race weekend and it's always good to go back there.
“The track is a very interesting and challenging one. It's very narrow; I describe it like a 'Monaco without walls'. You have to get everything right and hopefully we will have a clean race there. It's very difficult to overtake in Hungary, so it's important to have a good qualifying.
“The fans are very passionate there, it's great to see. The signing sessions are always fully-packed with people cheering us on and this is something very special to see. It's one of the highlights of the weekend, definitely!
“It's usually quite hot there, so we need to drink a lot of water throughout the weekend and it's something my physio reminds me about all the time at races like this one!
“Budapest is a very nice city. I've been there many times – there's a lot to see, it's good fun and one I definitely recommend to family and friends to visit.”
Carlos Sainz jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12 at Formula One World Championship, Rd10, British Grand Prix, Practice, Silverstone, England, Friday 14 July 2017. © Sutton Images
“I’ve always had a good feeling in Hungary. I’ve always liked the track. It used to be very bumpy, but they resurfaced it last year. It’s a low-speed circuit. How the car handles is important. I’ve been lucky to have had cars that have performed well there over the years.
“It can get very hot in Budapest. It’s not an easy race, but on the other hand, there’s not many high-speed corners on the track, so it’s more about keeping your focus and concentration all through the race. Regardless, we’re always keeping fit to prepare ourselves.
“It’s very difficult to overtake at the Hungaroring. To be fair, I made one of the best overtakes of my life there in 2013, outside of turn four, on Felipe Massa. I got a drive-through penalty for that one for having four wheels off the track. That didn’t matter to me as it was one of my most beautiful overtaking moves ever, because it came at a corner where nobody is expecting you to overtake. It was an outside overtake on a high-speed corner. The penalty, I thought, was questionable, but I just enjoyed the move. It was a key time in the race for me to be able to try and win. I really had to push hard and I just really enjoyed that overtaking manoeuvre.
“I’ve had some great races at the Hungaroring. I had my first pole position in GP2 there in 2008. I had some good races after that in GP2. I also qualified on the front row of the Hungarian Grand Prix back in 2012.”
“As at any other circuit, it’s going to be faster than last year. On a slow circuit like Hungary, the difference to last year will be smaller than some of the faster circuits like Silverstone, where the difference was very big. It changes your brake points. Certain corners are flat that weren’t flat last year. It’s a different way of driving.
“What we’re looking for is just a consistent performance – something you can build your confidence around and find a rhythm. It’s a pretty tough circuit. There’s not many straights, so you’re constantly working because there’s always a corner. It’s a bit like a go-kart track. It’s a tough circuit because you never get a break, plus it’s hot.”
Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 at Formula One World Championship, Rd10, British Grand Prix, Practice, Silverstone, England, Friday 14 July 2017. © Sutton Images
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“We have reached the halfway point of the 2017 season and both championships are very much in the balance right now. The points tables show that we have a small buffer in the constructors’ race and a small deficit on the drivers’ side. But that’s not important at this stage – there are no prizes awarded for the half-time champions.
“Our approach is to take it weekend by weekend, to build our performance at each circuit in a calm and logical way and to keep pushing. The time for worrying about the points will come later. What I see when I walk the corridors of our factories is an energy and determination like never before. It is inspiring to see how our team is tackling this championship battle.
“The first half of the season was a mixed one for us. From the first test, it was clear we had a real fight on our hands with Ferrari – and soon we could see this might become one of the classic seasons. It was a bumpy start for us as we didn’t quite find the right set-up window to make our car function. Then we had a bad weekend in Monaco – like always, you learn much more from your defeats than your victories. We used that learning in the right way and, from that point, we started to turn things around.
“Our drivers have been one of our biggest strengths so far. Lewis has delivered some consummate performances this year in China, Canada and Silverstone in particular. The win in front of his home crowd was emotionally charged and I am sure he is carrying that energy with him right now. As we see almost each weekend, he is equalling and matching new records in our sport’s history – and building a legacy as one of the sport’s greatest drivers. Budapest has always been a good circuit for him but, as he knows better than anybody else, the past is no guarantee of future performance. It’s all about the right preparation, hard work and delivering on the day.
“In the other car, Valtteri has embodied Finnish resolve and fighting spirit. He has a fierce work ethic, steely approach and a great natural talent. He threw himself into the challenge of switching teams and we are now starting to see his full potential reveal itself. I have the feeling he is getting better with each passing weekend and is already a more complete driver than at the start of the season. I’m excited to imagine how he will continue to develop for the rest of the season.
“So now we head to Budapest for the final race before the summer break. We enjoyed a fantastic weekend in Silverstone but it is now something nice in the history books. We have to do the job again beginning with first practice in Hungary. Our rivals will be determined to fight back strongly – and we have to anticipate that. There is no complacency at all at Mercedes, just a resolute determination to get the job done.”
Mario Isola, Head of Car Racing
“The track was resurfaced in time for last year’s Grand Prix and it will be interesting to see the effect of this change one year on, as the new asphalt matures. We noticed last year that it was smoother and generally faster than the previous surface. The team’s tyre selections have leaned in favour of soft and supersoft, so we obviously expect that to orm the basis of their strategies. Hungary is traditionally a race where strategy makes the difference, also because of the difficulty of overtaking, so the data collection process on Friday and Saturday should be even more important than usual with this brand-new generation of faster cars”.
Toto Wolff (AUT) Mercedes AMG F1 Director of Motorsport in the Press Conference at Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Practice, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Friday 24 March 2017. © Sutton Motorsport Images
“On paper, the Hungaroring presents one of the best opportunities for us this year. The short, twisty circuit means we are less reliant on outright power, and the drivers have to really depend on the capabilities of the chassis to get the best out of the lap.
“I always like returning to Budapest – we get to stay in the centre with great views of the river, and you feel like you’re really part of the city all weekend. The temperatures are high and it’s a testing weekend for the teams and drivers – especially since the summer break is so close, but a good result can be a great boost for everyone going into the shutdown period.
“The important thing for us, as always, is reliability. Even if our car could perform better in Hungary, we need to have a trouble-free weekend to take advantage of every opportunity for points. We made some big decisions in Silverstone in terms of taking grid penalties in preparation for this race, and hope that’s paid off so we can put ourselves in the best possible position for points this weekend.”
“I really like the Hungaroring circuit – although it’s not the fastest in term of outright pace, its technical layout means it feels quick and requires 100% commitment and concentration all the way around the lap. There are a lot of quick changes of direction, and the twisty configuration means you have to have your line spot-on every time to get the best out of a lap.
“The layout combined with the high temperatures means it’s tough on the cars, and you need a strong and stable chassis to be able to get the nose in at the right time and allow you the best possible exit to get ready for the next corner. The straights are short, so it’s all about setting up the car with as much downforce as possible for the corners.
“I’ve won in Hungary before, in GP2, and I enjoy driving on this track. Although we’ve been a bit unlucky, I feel that my performances have been consistent and improving race-by-race. I’ve been working hard with the engineers and I feel confident in the car – my weekends are coming together better now in the first part of the season and as a team we are progressing every weekend. We have to be patient, keep working hard, and I hope to see the reward for our efforts paying off soon.”
Eric Boullier, Racing Director
“We head to Hungary ready to tackle the final race weekend before the summer break. I salute and send a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to all of our McLaren-Honda colleagues, who have worked tirelessly throughout the winter and all season long, despite the difficult challenges we’ve faced together. Soon, there’ll be time for a well-deserved break with their families, but, before then, we’re fully focussed on the weekend ahead and determined to come away from Budapest with a positive result.
“Our pace at Silverstone was marginally better than we initially expected on what is considered to be a power-hungry circuit, and therefore a track traditionally more difficult for our car to adapt to. Hungary is a completely different proposition, and one that theoretically gives us optimism that we can put the strengths of our car to the test and better take the fight to our rivals.
“Together with Honda we’re working hard to improve our reliability, and avoiding incurring grid penalties – especially on this track, where our car has the potential to perform more favourably – will be key to increasing our points tally, which we’re all so determined to achieve. On the back of a successful tyre test with Pirelli, we hope to continue this momentum with a strong result in Budapest and follow it with useful mileage during the post-race in-season test, which we’ll as a platform for further development in the second half of the season.”
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
“Despite showing improved competitiveness during the last few races, we’re yet to translate this into on-track results. Having said that, we’re pleased with our current development and we now head to Hungary feeling more positive about the race weekend.
“The Hungaroring is a unique twisty circuit that should give us one of our best opportunities this season. Though it is not a power-oriented track, it still requires precise energy management throughout every lap of the race. It is also a track where overtaking is extremely difficult, so qualifying will be enormously important for us.
“We know we’re capable of a good result on this type of track, so our target is to reach Q3 and be in a good place to score points in the race. Fernando claimed his first Formula 1 victory at the Hungaroring, and Stoffel won there in GP2 in 2014, so our cars are in excellent hands.
“This is the last race before the summer shutdown when everyone in the McLaren-Honda team will get a well-earned rest. Before then, I hope we can build a good momentum towards the second half of the season with solid results in Hungary.”
Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32 at Formula One World Championship, Rd10, British Grand Prix, Qualifying, Silverstone, England, Saturday 15 July 2017. © Sutton Images
“This season has gone by so quickly. It only feels like yesterday we were racing in Melbourne and now we’re about to have the summer break. It’s been a satisfying first half of the year. I’m proud of the team and the work we have done to improve our car. I also feel I’m performing at my best and driving well. I have big hopes for the second half of the year and I feel we have the potential to get some very good results.
“I think we can be quick in Budapest. We have been competitive on every type of track this year so there’s nothing to worry about in Hungary. I like the twisty layout of the track – which reminds me of a street circuit – and when you find your rhythm it’s very enjoyable to drive there. Overtaking isn’t easy so you’ve got to deliver in qualifying or you know it’s going to be a tough race on Sunday. Track position is so important.
“I think everybody in the paddock is ready for a summer holiday. You always want a good result before you break up because it’s a long wait until you get back in the car. For whatever reason the Hungaroring hasn’t been kind to me for the last few years so it’s time to put that right.”
“I love Budapest and the Hungaroring. It’s my favourite track of the year. I had a special weekend there when I was racing in Formula Three with two wins and a second place, and a double podium in GP3. It’s just a track that’s very satisfying to drive. When you get into the rhythm it feels great because you can really lean on the car and attack the kerbs. It’s a circuit that suits me as a driver and my driving style.
“I’m looking forward to the break and the chance to recharge my batteries. It’s been such a busy season and I’m ready to take a few weeks to catch my breath. I have to say I’m very happy with how things have gone since I joined the team. I feel stronger with every race and I think there is even more potential in the second half of the year. My objective is still to try and get a podium, but the priority is to keep picking up the points in every race – that’s what we need as a team. We just need to keep being consistent.”
Tom McCullough, Chief Race Engineer
"The final race before the summer break takes us to Budapest. The Hungaroring is one of the shortest circuits of the year, at 4.381km, and a high percentage of this short lap is spent cornering. Low and medium speed corners dominate this grip-limited circuit. The main straight is quite short in comparison to other circuits and the layout doesn’t promote overtaking – qualifying well and getting a good start are crucial. We travel to Hungary at the end of July, which means the weather can be very hot: track temperatures can reach above 50C, making it a thermally difficult circuit for the tyres and a challenge for brake cooling."
Vijay Mallya, Team Principal
“Silverstone was another solid weekend for the team. Both cars finished in the points for the eighth time this season. The developments we introduced delivered what we expected and the car continues to improve with each race. As I said before, this consistency is our strength and we won’t become complacent. This is only the half-way point in the season and there is a lot of hard work ahead of us. We will keep pushing, keep bringing new parts to the cars and keep the pressure on the teams we are racing against.
“Budapest should be another competitive track for us. Esteban tells me that it’s his favourite track of the year because he loves the chicanes. It’s never been a circuit where we’ve had much luck in recent years so hopefully things will change this year. We will be running Alfonso Celis in the car during free practice on Friday and we have two promising youngsters testing with us in the days after the race with Nikita Mazepin and Lucas Auer in the car. After that, there’s a well-earned rest for the entire team. We will do our best to sign off the first half of the year with a strong result.”
Sergio Perez (MEX) Force India at Formula One World Championship, Rd10, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday 16 July 2017. © Sutton Images
“I like Hungary, it’s a good Grand Prix. The track is cool and technical with lots of good corner combinations which come one after the other. It feels like all of the corners combine, one error means you will suffer in another corner; you need a good flow and harmony. It’s a physical track, very hot too which is hard on us drivers. I like the track: it’s a demanding circuit, you don’t get too many breaks on the lap, so it’s a Grand Prix which comes down to fitness, more so than others.
“I think the city of Budapest is pretty especially with all its architecture. In terms of food, they have the Hungarian goulash which is very popular. It’s certainly an interesting and pretty country and usually very hot there. There are lots of things to do and see, it’s a cool and buzzing weekend which means it’s usually good fun for the fans.”
“I really like Budapest, it brings up some good memories such as when I won there in the GP2 Series in 2013. The track is different in nature to many others in terms of having a lot of slow speed corners. Once you brake for the first turn you don’t get much of a breather until you’re back round again and on to the straight.
“The entire circuit flows together and makes for an exciting lap, there is little room for error in terms of braking and turning points, everything has to go smoothly. It’s difficult to overtake there and it’s important to find a good rhythm. It’s fun to drive a lap, it’s usually good for racing, so hopefully I can have a change of luck and finally get some points.
“I have burnt the unlucky underpants, so they are now out of the way! I’m not superstitious, but you have to say this run of bad luck has to end.
“On the positives, there were certainly a couple of good things from Silverstone. My qualifying pace was decent and I managed my second best run of the season. I drove with the new floor in FP1 and it was working nicely, meaning I’m happy to have it for Budapest. Nico showed the benefit of the floor across last weekend with his strong qualifying and race pace. It’s exciting for the team as we looked competitive and ahead of our midfield rivals. That’s all I hope for in Hungary.”
Nick Chester, Chassis Technical Director
“[The Hungaroring’s] tight and twisty throughout, aside from a big long straight across the start and finish line. It has many low and medium speed corners, which demand stability on corner entry and strong traction on the exit. It’s quite hard on both the front and rear tyres so overall it can be characterised as a tough handling circuit. It’s not the most frequented of circuits, so the surface starts the weekend a bit green, then improves through the weekend.
“We had significant aero upgrades in Silverstone and we expected to see improvements in overall grip and stability. We made the car more drivable with more downforce. It took a big step forward and we could see that in the measurements made in the car, so we are reasonably confident this will carry forward.
“[In Budapest] both cars will have the new floor we validated. We will evaluate updated front bodywork and a modified cooling package.”
Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport Racing Managing Director
“We head to Hungary with a positive mood brought about by the recent performance gains we have seen to the R.S.17. Budapest is the final race before the summer break and this gives us added motivation.
“We have shown at Silverstone that we are continuing to improve. Chassis developments, in particular the new floor, proved to be positive exemplified from Nico’s eight points and both cars showing strong qualifying pace. It’s critical to back up this improvement with both cars finishing in the top ten in Hungary – we want to finish the first half of the season on a positive note. To achieve this, we need to put behind our reliability problems. We know our situation and the areas which require more attention.
“Our targets remain unchanged; we want to be sixth by the end of play on 30th July and fifth by the end of the season. A double-points finish is well within our reach.”
Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team on the drivers parade at Formula One World Championship, Rd9, Austrian Grand Prix, Race, Spielberg, Austria, Sunday 9 July 2017. © Sutton Images
“Hungary 2014 was a cool victory. Of course I love winning but that was an awesome race. In order to win I had to pass Hamilton and Alonso, pretty much the best two so that was cool.
“I love that track and it has always been a good one for me. I’ve had some great weekends there even before Formula One.
“The Hungarian Grand Prix is always at the point of the season where summer is approaching so I’m always in a pretty good place and the car is normally getting better as well. It all kind of comes good by the end of July.
“We’ve got lots more grip this year so it’ll be a bit more fun. The second sector is going to be amazing. That’s one of my favourite sectors in F1. If Sunday is hot it’ll definitely be a physically demanding race, so I can’t make the mistake again of eating too much meat on Saturday night.
“This track means elbows out for sure as there are three key places where you can overtake. I’ve made some good moves in Turn 1 in the past. Turn 2 you can go inside or outside, as both lanes work and the hairpin is fun too.
“On Saturday night I normally plan a meal with a few of the guys from the team. That’s always a good one as it’s the end of the first half of the season and the atmosphere is cool so I’ll definitely been seen on the streets of Budapest.”
“It’s always a bit too early to say how we’ll do in Hungary but we’re constantly improving, trying to get a better balance and more downforce on the car. Luckily there are not too many long straights.
“It’s a great track, especially in an F1 car. It’s actually quite narrow and with high speeds it’s really fun to drive so I’m very much looking forward to it. I wouldn’t say it’s Monaco without walls, but it’s definitely a bit more narrow than other circuits we go to.
“We do have more grip this year so maybe you have to do a few different lines compared to the previous year, but all in all that’s manageable and quite straightforward.
“We’re always staying in the city centre for the race week so we do get to see a little bit of Budapest. Unfortunately we never have time for a lot of sightseeing but I’ll hopefully have one day to walk around and get to know the city a bit more after the race.”
More to follow.