Daniel Ricciardo narrowly missed out on a top six finish in a tight Styrian Grand Prix at the weekend. Focus now turns to the fast and flowing Hungaroring, a circuit the Australian relishes, as he aims for a better points reward.
How much do you enjoy racing at the Hungaroring?
Daniel Ricciardo: I can't wait to get back to Budapest. I'm glad it's on the revised calendar as it's one of my favourite circuits. I'm pumped to have a good one this time around and trying this year's car on a high-downforce circuit for the first time. I'm quite enjoying these back-to-back races and, since we've been competitive in Austria, I know we're going to have a chance in Hungary for a good result.
Where are the key areas of a lap there?
DR: It's a track with its own challenges. It's fast, tight, but that doesn't mean overtaking isn't possible. It's quite a busy lap at the wheel, especially the middle sector with corners coming quite quickly one after the other. It's a good drivers' track and a great challenge. Even physically, it's quite hard, especially with the heat.
What are your thoughts after the Styrian Grand Prix?
DR: I think it's a little frustrating as we know more points were there for the taking. We held onto sixth for so long and two laps from the end it came undone. It was a positive race with a decent start and solid pace in general. There are positives from it and we showed the speed for a better result. We have another chance this weekend; we're moving in the right direction and the car has taken a step forward. We just need to extract the most from it and show where we deserve to be in the standings.
Esteban Ocon's Styrian Grand Prix may have ended early, but the French driver heads to Hungary with confidence as he gears up to tackle his favourite circuit on the 2020 calendar.
How much do you enjoy racing in Hungary?
Esteban Ocon: I definitely love Budapest and it's actually one of my favourite tracks. It's fantastic to drive, especially when you get the car set up to how you want it. I have some really good memories there from Formula 3, when I took three pole positions and won two of the three races. I've also been confident there in Formula 1 but maybe without the results to show for it. We showed good pace in Austria this year and hopefully we can take that forward to Hungary. We're getting better but we know it's points on the board that counts.
What should you look out for on a lap there?
EO: I love the flow of the Hungaroring; it's twisty and fast and just a lot of fun. The first sector contains the long straight into Turn 1 with overtaking opportunities and then again at Turn 2 where you can also make a pass. Turn 4 is quick and blind but really nice when you get it right. The middle sector is very much medium to fast corners with the chicane the only exception. You need to find a good flow through there and piece all the corners together to make up lap-time. The tricky part of the lap is the final couple of corners. The tyres get very hot, meaning less grip, so you have to be quite mindful there.
How do you aim to bounce back after last weekend's retirement?
EO: We're all very disappointed with what happened in the race. It took a big team effort on Saturday to put ourselves in a good position and we were running in a decent place during the race. It's a shame but that's motorsport sometimes. With the races coming one after the other, it does bring an immediate opportunity to comeback stronger and do our best for a good result. I'm confident we can do that.
The Styrian Grand Prix left the team with mixed feelings after a strong Saturday showing before leaving points on the table on Sunday. Focus turns to the non-stop flow of the Hungaroring for the third race in a triple-header as Chief Race Engineer Ciaron Pilbeam looks ahead to this weekend's race.
What are the main considerations for the Hungaroring?
Ciaron Pilbeam: The Hungaroring has a lot of corners and not many straights, which makes it a high-downforce circuit where most teams will run maximum downforce. There are not many very low speed corners, and the middle sector in particular is mainly medium speed where finding a flow is quite important. Because of this circuit layout tyre overheating can be an issue, especially at the rear. Even in qualifying rear overheating in the last few corners can be a problem, and sometimes you have to compromise the car balance to find the best overall lap time.
It's very difficult to overtake at the Hungaroring with Turn 1 probably the best chance to make a move. It can be a struggle to get past someone even if you're quicker and that places an emphasis on having a strong qualifying performance.
What kind of performance are we expecting?
CP: We're encouraged from what we have seen from the car so far this year. It has been consistently better in Barcelona and Austria, the two circuits we've been at this season. I don't think these improvements are circuit specific, and we would expect this progression to carry over to other circuits. It can be hot in central Europe at this time of year, especially in Budapest, so we may need to run more cooling on the car, although the weather forecast at the moment is for a mainly cool weekend with the possibility of some rain.
How does the team reflect on the Styrian Grand Prix?
CP: The Styrian Grand Prix was a mixed weekend for us. Our cars qualified well in the wet session on Saturday and were looking good to capitalise on that in the race on Sunday. However, we did not score the points that we could have, and that is the ultimate measure of our performance, so we cannot be satisfied. Nevertheless, the car has clearly improved and showed good pace all weekend in both wet and dry conditions at a circuit where we have struggled in the past, so we can be optimistic about the coming races.