2016 Hungarian Grand Prix preview

Hungarian Grand Prix 2016

THE DRIVERS ON: THE CIRCUIT

#14 Fernando Alonso

“The Hungaroring is a great little circuit, and has quite unique characteristics that not many other tracks share. It’s a bit like a street circuit in the way it’s configured, even though it’s purpose-built, and it requires absolute precision and concentration to get the most out of every lap. 

“Since you need good balance and downforce, the best way to get a good lap time is to really attack the corners – a bit like in karting – so from that point of view it’s a really fun circuit to drive. Although it’s not a traditional ‘power’ circuit like many others, it doesn’t feel like a slow circuit either; I hope we can find a good set-up early on in the weekend so we can really make the most of our car and hopefully have some fun.”

#22 Jenson Button

“This circuit is quite different from the last few we’ve been to, so I’m looking forward to heading back to Hungary next weekend. It’s less dependent on power, and much more dependent on traction, cornering speeds and agility, and it’s a really enjoyable challenge. You get a great feeling when you hook up a good lap there.

“The focus is much more on aero, so we’ll run pretty high downforce and try to make the most of our car’s good traction under braking. Hopefully it’ll mean we can keep up with the chasing pack and maybe even make up a bit of ground, too. Although we struggled with our pace in Silverstone, the Hungaroring is a different kettle of fish, so I’m keen to see how we perform there.”

CIRCUIT STATS

2015 winnerSebastian Vettel, 69 laps, 1:46:09.985s
2015 pole positionLewis Hamilton, 1m22.020s
2015 fastest lapDaniel Ricciardo, 1m24.821s (lap 68)
NameHungaroring
First race1986
Circuit length 4.381km/2.722 miles
Distance to Turn One610m/0.379 miles 
Longest straight 908m/0.564 miles, on the approach to Turn One
Top speed310km/h/193mph, on the approach to Turn One 
Pitlane length360m/0.224 miles, estimated time loss 18s
Full throttle55 per cent 
DRS zonesTwo, on the approaches to Turns One and Two
Key cornerTurn 14, a tricky 180-degree right-hander, which has a bump in the middle. To be fast, a car needs good front-end grip to hold it at the apex, but traction is also important because the longest straight on the lap follows and exit speed is critical
Fastest corner 212km/h (132mph), Turn Four
Slowest corner93km/h (58mph), Turn One
Major changes for 2016None, bar a few changes to the kerbs
Fuel consumption2.1kg per lap, which is relatively high
ERS demandsMedium. It’s a short lap with lots of acceleration from low speed, but only 14 per cent of the lap is spent braking, and that provides the cars with relatively few opportunities to harvest energy 
Brake wearMedium. There’s a significant braking event into Turn One, where the cars pull 5g, but that’s the only big braking zone
Gear changes48 per lap /3,360 per race

 

CIRCUIT FACTS 

History lesson: 
The Hungaroring was the first circuit in the world to be built specifically for Formula 1. Situated 20km (12 miles) north east of Budapest, the track was constructed in just nine months ahead of the inaugural race in 1986. Only six tracks on this year’s F1 calendar have staged more races than the Hungaroring.

What makes the track unique: 
The number of slow corners. Twelve of the 14 corners are taken at less than 200km/h (124mph), which places an emphasis on mechanical grip and has earned the track the nickname of ‘Monaco, without the walls’.

Grip levels: 
Poor. The track is rarely used, which means the surface is very dirty early in the weekend. The racing line cleans up relatively quickly once practice gets underway, but the asphalt remains slippery off-line throughout the weekend.

Run-off: 
There’s ample run-off at Turn One, where the cars exceed 300km/h (186mph) on the approach to the corner, but the barriers are relatively close elsewhere due to the slow speeds. The smallest of mistakes can be punished by contact with the tyre wall.

Watch out for…: 
Turn Four, the fastest corner on the lap. The uphill approach means the drivers can’t see the exit and the surface drops away near the apex kerb. Precision is crucial in order to be quick.


EVENT STATS

Start time14:00hrs local/13:00hrs BST
Race distance70 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/53 laps)
Safety Car likelihoodLow. The Safety Car was deployed in 2014, and the virtual Safety Car in ’15, but those were anomalies. Statistically, there is only a 10 per cent chance of a Safety Car in the Hungarian Grand Prix
When to press recordQualifying. The track’s tortuous twists make overtaking difficult, which places even greater emphasis on qualifying – although no-one told Nigel Mansell in 1989; he qualified 12th and won the race
Don’t put the kettle onThe first pitstops occurred on or around lap 20 last year. But the Supersoft tyre will be the qualifying compound this year and that could force earlier pitstops because it’s faster wearing
Weather conditions now  23 degrees and cloudy
Race forecast28 degrees and sunny
Tyre choicesSupersoft/Soft/Medium, a combination that was last used at the European Grand Prix in Baku

 

EVENT FACTS

First Hungarian Grand Prix:
1986.

Slogan:
There isn’t an official slogan, but the track is known colloquially as ‘Monaco without the walls’.

Hungary's F1 heritage: 
The first Hungarian Grand Prix was held in 1936, in a park in central Budapest. The race at the Hungaroring has been a permanent fixture since 1986, when more than 200,000 people turned up to watch the first grand prix behind the Iron Curtain. There’s only been one Hungarian F1 driver: Zolt Baumgartner, a veteran of 20 GPs in 2003/’04.

Smallest winning margin:  
0.288s, in 1990. It was Thierry Boutsen’s third and final victory in F1. He led the entire race from pole position, but he was under pressure throughout – initially from Alessandro Nannini and then Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian finished the 77-lap race just inches behind Boutsen’s Williams.

Sporting legacy:
The Hungaroring is only the 10th track in F1 history to host 30 grands prix, but, despite the popularity of the race, it hasn’t spawned a roster of Hungarian racing drivers. The national sport is football, closely followed by track and field. Only seven countries have won more gold medals at the summer Olympic Games than Hungary. Other popular sports are water polo and baseball.

Did you know? 
Both McLaren-Honda drivers scored their first victories in Formula 1 at the Hungaroring, Fernando Alonso in 2003 and Jenson Button in 2006.

Don’t forget: 
McLaren is the most successful constructor at the Hungarian Grand Prix, having won the race 11 times – more than one third of the races. 

Fan zone:
Patrick, aged 39, from Minneapolis, asks: “Given that this is the halfway point in the season, are you guys beginning to focus on the 2017 car at the McLaren Technology Centre?”
McLaren’s answer: “The split of resources between the present and the future is one of the most important juggling acts that a Formula 1 team has to perform. We’ve been working on the 2017 car for a while already, but we’re still developing the MP4-31 because we want to challenge for points right through until the end of the season.”

THE DRIVERS ON: THE EVENT

#14 Fernando Alonso

“Silverstone was definitely a challenge for us, but we knew that from the beginning and we still took a lot of positives away from the weekend. Reliability-wise, we’re getting stronger, and the test just after the grand prix was definitely a little boost for the whole team. We completed a full programme, got a lot of mileage done, and learned a lot which will help with our development, so hopefully we can put some of this knowledge to good use in Hungary.

“There’s no such thing as perfect in this sport, but the important thing will be to execute a trouble-free weekend in all areas. If we manage to get the best out of every session, and have some clean, drama-free running, hopefully we can find some good pace in the car and maximise the potential of what we have underneath us – and score some valuable points.”

#22 Jenson Button

“Both Fernando and I won our first grand prix in Hungary, and it’s always a special feeling going back. It’s been 10 years since that first victory – although it doesn’t feel that long – so the Hungaroring is a place that holds great memories. Budapest is a really cool city and we stay more centrally than at many other grands prix, so we get to see quite a bit of the surrounding area, and it makes for a great atmosphere and a real buzz about the place." 

“In the past couple of years Hungary has been fairly good to us and provided a bit of a boost before the summer break after a relentless few weeks of back-to-back racing, so I’m hoping for more of the same this time around. It suits our car more than some of the other circuits, but of course there are no guarantees, so we’ll be putting in the hard work on Friday to make sure we have the best possible set-up for the demands of this quirky track.”

HEAR FROM THE MANAGEMENT

Eric Boullier
McLaren-Honda Racing Director

“We head to the Hungaroring off the back of a positive couple of days testing at Silverstone. The grand prix weekend was certainly a challenge, but knowing the characteristics of the circuit as we do, we were prepared for a difficult race, although it’s still disappointing not to have finished in the points.

“The test, however, was encouraging, and we definitely maximised the track time to collate some valuable data which our engineers in the UK and Japan are putting to good use on the development of the MP4-31. Not all will apply directly to the race in Hungary, of course, but we certainly hope that we can align the strengths of our package with the unique nature of the Hungaroring circuit.

“Over the past few races, we’ve endured some bad luck, made a few small mistakes, and suffered some reliability niggles. But if we can enjoy a smooth weekend, I’m hopeful we can fulfil the potential that our package has shown at various points throughout the season so far, on both sides of the garage, and secure a result that, statistically, we know we're capable of on this type of circuit.”

Yusuke Hasegawa
Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

"With an old-school style racing circuit and the shimmering summer sun, the Hungarian Grand Prix is a special place for Honda. I can still remember when Jenson won his first Grand Prix with us in 2006 and the incredible atmosphere within the team and fans.

“Though the Hungaroring is not a power-oriented circuit, it still requires precise energy management throughout every lap of the race. It's also a circuit where overtaking is extremely difficult, so it'll be important for us to get the qualifying lap correct. Our target again is to reach Q3 and be in a good place to score more points, for which we have two skilled drivers that we have complete trust in to drive brilliantly through the gruelling 70-lap race."