AT&T Williams Hungarian GP Preview

Round 11 of the Championship and the final race prior to the traditional three week August summer break takes Formula One to the cultural hotspot of Budapest this weekend for the Hungarian Grand Prix. In 1986, Hungary became the first Eastern European country to host a Grand Prix and has remained a permanent fixture on the calendar ever since. Over its 22 race history, the Hungaroring has provided the backdrop for a host of dramatic racing outcomes and, with the competition so fierce throughout the field, Formula One’s fans should be in for another thrilling Grand Prix this weekend.

Nico RosbergHungary is a very different track to the ones we’ve been racing at over the past few Grands Prix. It has a similar layout to Monaco, a circuit which suited our car, and is a track which really requires a different set-up direction to that which we’ve run at the past few races, so Hungary should be a better race for us. We did a good job in qualifying there last year and we then went well in the race, so I think we can look forward to a good weekend. It’s always very hot at Budapest, which can make it really tough, but it’s never a problem for me.

Kazuki NakajimaI’ve never driven a Formula One car at the Hungaroring, but I raced there in GP2 last year and had a pretty good result. The circuit itself should suit our car, and we did a lot of work at the Jerez test last week on set-ups so we are well prepared. Budapest looks like a really cool place to visit. I obviously stayed in the city last year, but I didn’t have much of an opportunity to look around, maybe this year I’ll get out a bit more.

Sam Michael, Technical Director, Williams F1The Hungaroring is a maximum downforce circuit that requires the driver to maintain a smooth driving style throughout the course of the lap because the car is almost always laterally loaded. Concentration is therefore crucial for developing a good rhythm around the lap.

As sustained high speed corner loading isn’t a problem in Hungary, Bridgestone will take the Soft and Super Soft tyre compounds to Budapest. Strategy can be quite varied, with one, two and three stop strategies all used effectively in past races. Obviously such a tight and twisty circuit demands a good qualifying performance and a strong start as it’s extremely difficult to overtake.

Budapest, HungarySimilar to Monaco, the Hungaroring is a tight and twisty race track at which the drivers have to manage 14 slow speed corners over just one 4.3km lap. Combined with some of the shortest straights on the calendar, a maximum downforce package and a well balanced car are essential to achieve a competitive lap time. Engines will enjoy some comparative respite this weekend as the cars will rev at full throttle for a maximum of 58% of the lap while average speeds will range between just 90km/h and 295km/h. Torque will be a critical requirement of the engine to power the cars out of the slow speed corners, as will good mechanical grip and good traction.

Another effect of the corner sequencing will see the tyres experience intense thermal loads in Hungary as repetitive braking, cornering and acceleration events over the 70 lap race will leave little opportunity for cooling. Together with the high ambient temperatures common to Hungary which will push track temperatures in excess of 50°C, tyre wear will be at its peak this weekend.

Dust can also cause problems at the Hungarian Grand Prix, as the dirty track at the start of the race weekend distorts the data ahead of qualifying. Although the circuit evolves throughout the weekend, the track offers little grip off the racing line so the opportunities for overtaking during the race are few and always risky. Qualifying position and pit-stop strategy could therefore define the race result.

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