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Hungarian GP: Preview - McLaren

NEWS STORY
20/07/2015

After the fast sweeps of Silverstone, Formula 1 heads to the slowest permanent circuit on the calendar next weekend. The Hungaroring is tortuously twisting and narrow, and has few fast corners. To be competitive, a car needs to have aerodynamic stability and good traction.

The Hungaroring was the first circuit in the world to be built specifically for F1. It was completed in just nine months ahead of its first grand prix in August 1986 and it's been a permanent fixture ever since. Only six tracks on this year's schedule have staged more grands prix than this 4.381km/2.722-mile track.

With an average speed of just 190km/h (118mph), the Hungaroring rewards low-speed traction. However, grip levels are poor early in the weekend because the asphalt is usually very dusty and slippery. This makes life very difficult for the drivers during Friday's practice sessions, until some rubber has been laid down on the racing line.

As you'd expect on a track where overtaking is difficult, the start of the race is crucial. It's advantageous to line up on the clean side of the grid, and the run to the first corner is 610 metres - the fourth longest of the year - so there's a lot of jostling for position on the approach to Turn One.

The combination of old and abrasive asphalt, and high track temperatures, provides a hostile working environment for the tyres. For this reason, Pirelli are taking their Soft (Option) and Medium (Prime) tyre compounds to the race. It's the first time this combination has been used since the Bahrain Grand Prix in April.

McLaren is the most successful constructor at the Hungaroring. The team has won there 11 times, which is more than one-third of the races staged at the track. It was also in Hungary that the team's 2015 race drivers scored their maiden F1 wins, Fernando Alonso in 2003 and Jenson Button in 2006.

It's all about the race

Start time: 1400 (local) / 1200 (GMT)
Race distance: 70 laps (full world championship points awarded after 75% distance/53 laps)
2014 winner: Daniel Ricciardo
2014 pole position: Nico Rosberg 1m22.715s (190.674km/h)
2014 fastest lap: Nico Rosberg 1m25.724s (183.981km/h)
Chances of a Safety Car: Low. There were two Safety Car periods last year, but, statistically, there's still only a 10 per cent chance of a Safety Car
Don't put the kettle on: The Hungaroring has a short pitlane; it takes only 16s to complete a pitstop and that opens up a lot of strategy options. For the last two years the race has been won with three pitstops, so stay tuned on laps 9-12; 30-33 and 50-55.
Weather forecast: Usually, it's very warm at this time of year - 25-30 degrees. It's unusual to see rain, but that's what happened last year (and in 2011 and '06).

It's all about the track

First race: 1986
Circuit length: 4.381km/2.722 miles
Run to Turn One: 610 metres
Longest straight: 908m, along the pit straight
Top speed: 305km/h on the approach to Turn One
DRS zones: Two - on the approach to Turn One and, again, on the approach to Turn Two
Key corner: Turn 14, a 180-degree right-hander. You need a responsive front-end to get the car turned in and good traction on exit because the longest straight on the lap follows
Pitlane length: 360 metres, one of the shortest of the season
Major changes for 2015: None

It's all about the car

Fuel consumption: 2.1kg per lap, which is high
Full throttle: 55 per cent
Brake wear: Medium. There's a significant braking event into Turn 1, where deceleration exceeds 5g, but only 14 percent of the lap is spent on the brakes
Gear changes: 48 per lap/3360 per race

With 11 victories, McLaren has won more than a third of all the races staged at the Hungaroring. Williams are second with seven wins and Ferrari third with five.

Tim Goss, technical director: "The Hungaroring is a great little racetrack. It has lots of corners and very few straights, which puts the focus on aerodynamics. You run the car in maximum downforce trim, but many of the corners are in fact medium-speed, not slow-speed, so you need a car that delivers very consistent downforce. If you can achieve good levels of downforce from corner entry through to corner exit, you can achieve a good balance and that's more important than the amount of drag the car produces."

Fernando Alonso: "It's funny to think that both Jenson and I won our first grand prix in Hungary. That, of course, makes it a special place for me, and a venue that'll always hold good memories for me. I really like this place; it's a track that you really have to attack to get a good laptime, and, although it's often thought of as a slow circuit, the sweeps around the back of the circuit are all really satisfying, and require a lot of commitment. The left-hander at Turn Six, in particular, is a really great corner - approached blind over a crest, and really hard to nail perfectly.

"I think the team is looking forward to this race: the track will offer us a reasonable opportunity to showcase our steady progress, and I'd like to think that, if everything runs smoothly, we could have a less difficult weekend."

Jenson Button: "It's going to be a nice feeling to return to the Hungaroring with Honda power behind me, having last won a race for Honda at this very track back in 2006. Obviously, I have a place in my heart for this place - any driver's first grand prix victory is a special event - but, that aside, it's a place I've always enjoyed.

"Although my race at Silverstone was extremely disappointing, Fernando's points finish was well deserved. There's been absolutely no let-up on the technical side - having personally seen the effort that's been going on at MTC, and heard about the work that's being done at Sakura, I know we're slowly but surely getting there.

"Of course, that's difficult to substantiate without decent results, but let's hope we can go into the summer break feeling confident about the second half of the season."

Eric Boullier, Racing director: "Last weekend's sad news about Jules Bianchi means that the grand prix circus heads to Budapest with heavy hearts. We'll all remember his life in our own personal way, but Formula 1 will come together on Sunday to silently and respectfully mark his passing.

"The weekend's news has firmly put things into perspective, but we head to Hungary keen to shake off the poor luck we've encountered in recent races.

"It's been a source of great frustration to see new components and upgrades destroyed before they've had the chance to be race-proven, through a series of first-lap accidents. However, the unshakeable belief and optimism of Fernando and Jenson has set the example for the whole team: they are remarkable assets, and their commitment during these times is incredibly valuable.

"Honda, too, has shown a commitment that remains admirably undiminished. Together, we are showing the fighting spirit and resilience that will see us continue to improve our performance and reliability as we move back to the front.

"I hope that our performance in Hungary will scratch the surface on the performance and potential that lies within our organisation - it would be great to go into the break feeling re-energised about the races ahead."

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport: "The Hungaroring is a twisty track that's mostly made up of continuous slow- to mid-speed corners and various elevation changes that makes it very difficult to overtake. Each corner is technical and tight, but there is a certain flow to it that makes it different from a stop-and-go circuit.

"Due to its lack of long straights and full-throttle sectors, this track is less strenuous for the power unit compared to most circuits. However, the frequent undulation requires more precise energy management and deployment at lower gears and corner exits. Getting our energy management settings right will be crucial throughout the weekend.

"Our goal is to end the first half of the season with precise energy management and full use of the ERS to enable the drivers' skills to shine through at this circuit."

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