2008 Hungarian Formula 1 GP – Wolf’s Race Preview

Hungary 2007 Podium

For the 23rd time Formula 1 returns to Hungaroring – the twisty dusty track where overtaking is almost impossible, where races are often boring and where it almost never rains. When it does rain, anything can happen, even Jenson Button can win a race as it happened back in 2006.

Not much happened during the race last year but the more interesting was the qualifying. Ferrari’s mix up with Massa’s fuel relegated the Brazilian to 14th on the grid. Hamilton’s revolt resulted in Alonso’s revolt and ultimately lead to that infamous 100 million fine and Alonso’s departure…

This year it all looks like the usual hot and dry and dusty weekend in Hungary with chances of rain somewhere around 5%-10%. Can’t really tell that pole position will automaticaly result in win but poor qualifing will almost surely ruin any chances for good result. Weather is unlikely to help so the only hope for the midfield teams remains some well timed safety car appearance …

Five of previous 13 Hungarian GP winners (see the video preview) will be on the grid this year – Barrichello, Alonso, Raikkonen, Button and Hamilton. McLaren seems to be the team to beat at the moment but Ferrari (with the shark fin) are also quite optimistic, at least their talk is. It should be four way battle between 2 red and 2 silver cars but a qualifying surprise may mix it up. If a guy like Kubica for example manages to snatch the pole position, it will be hard to overtake him on a track like this …


Track technical info (ING Renault data):

The Hungaroring offers plenty of challenges to drivers and engineers alike. The circuit features no high-speed corners, leading the teams to run the highest possible downforce levels, while the primary concern for the engine team is ensuring good cooling in the usually hot conditions. The high summer temperatures also make life difficult for the drivers, who need to be in peak physical condition to cope with a race that gives them very little respite over its 70-lap distance.

Aerodynamics

The twisting, 14-corner layout of the Hungaroring features just one legitimate overtaking opportunity per lap, into turn 1. Apart from this straight of just over 700m, the circuit is filled with sequences of low to medium-speed corners, with short braking distances which make overtaking nearly impossible. The result is that the teams all run with maximum downforce levels, similar if not identical to those used in Monaco, in order to optimise not just cornering speeds, but also braking and traction. Maximum speeds achieved on the main straight rarely exceed 300kph with the V8 engines.

Suspension

Mechanical grip is an important factor at a low-speed circuit such as this, and teams will generally try to run the car with softer settings all round to improve mechanical grip. The drivers want a responsive car in the low-speed sections, with good traction on corner exit, which will usually lead the teams to a forward mechanical bias (stiffer front/softer rear) in terms of set-up. However, rear tyre wear must be monitored very carefully, particularly to avoid overloading the softer compound available this weekend.

Tyres

Bridgestone will bring the Soft and Super Soft compounds from its 2008 range, as were used in Monaco and Canada. The low-grip circuit conditions, coupled with the absence of high-speed corners, make these choices possible. As has become customary, the tyre management challenge for the weekend will be to control graining on the softest compound, and this should improve as the circuit rubbers-in throughout the weekend. Data collected during practice will determine whether the super-soft is suitable for use during the majority of the race, while cooler-than-expected temperatures, or overnight rain washing the circuit clean of rubber, could further complicate matters.

Engine

With the longest period spent at full throttle barely exceeding ten seconds, and with only 56% of the lap spent at full throttle (significantly lower than the average), this is not a demanding circuit for the engine. Of the 14 corners, five are taken in second gear at around 100kph. Unlike Monaco, where the cars reach abnormally slow speeds in the hairpins, the minimum speed at the Hungaroring is approximately 90kph. This means the engine spends the majority of its time in a relatively narrow operating window between 100kph and 250kph, and the closely-spaced gear ratios are selected to ensure optimum performance in this range. As always on a circuit featuring a large number of slow corners, good torque is important to help launch the cars out of the turns.

Top 10 in past 10 Hungarian Grands Prix:

2007
1) Lewis Hamilton – McLaren – 1:35:52.991
2) Kimi Raikkonen – Ferrari + 0.715
3) Nick Heidfeld – BMW Sauber + 43.129
4) Fernando Alonso – McLaren + 44.858
5) Robert Kubica – BMW Sauber + 47.616
6) Ralf Schumacher – Toyota + 50.669
7) Nico Rosberg – Williams + 59.139
8)Heikki Kovalainen – Renault + 1:08.104
9) Mark Webber – Red Bull + 1:16.331
10) Jarno Trulli – Toyota + 1 laps

2006
1) Jenson Button – Honda – 1:52:20.941
2) Pedro de la Rosa – McLaren-Mercedes +30.8
3) Nick Heidfeld – Sauber-BMW +43.8
4) Rubens Barrichello – Honda +45.2
5) David Coulthard – RBR-Ferrari +1 Lap
6) Ralf Schumacher – Toyota +1 Lap
7) Felipe Massa – Ferrari +1 Lap
8)Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – Track rod
9) Tiago Monteiro – MF1-Toyota +3 Laps
10) Christijan Albers – MF1-Toyota +3 Laps

2005
1) Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:37:25.552
2) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +35.5
3) Ralf Schumacher – Toyota +36.1
4) Jarno Trulli – Toyota +54.2
5) Jenson Button – BAR-Honda +58.8
6) Nick Heidfeld – Williams-BMW +68.3
7) Mark Webber – Williams-BMW +1 Lap
8)Takuma Sato – BAR-Honda +1 Lap
9) Giancarlo Fisichella – Renault +1 Lap
10) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +1 Lap

2004
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:35:26.131
2) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +4.6
3) Fernando Alonso – Renault +44.5
4) Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW +62.6
5) Jenson Button – BAR-Honda +67.4
6) Takuma Sato – BAR-Honda +1 Lap
7) Antonio Pizzonia – Williams-BMW +1 Lap
8)Giancarlo Fisichella – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
9) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +1 Lap
10) Mark Webber – Jaguar-Cosworth +1 Lap

2003
1) Fernando Alonso – Renault – 1:39:01.460
2) Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes +16.7
3) Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW +34.5
4) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW +35.6
5) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +56.5
6) Mark Webber – Jaguar-Cosworth +72.6
7) Jarno Trulli – Renault +1 Lap
8)Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +1 Lap
9) Nick Heidfeld – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
10) Jenson Button – BAR-Honda +1 Lap

2002
1) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari – 1:41’49.001
2) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +0.434
3) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW +13.356
4) Kimi Räikkönen – McLaren-Mercedes +29.479
5) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +37.800
6) Giancarlo Fisichella – Jordan-Honda +1’08.804
7) Felipe Massa – Sauber-Petronas +1’13.612
8)Jarno Trulli – Renault +1 Lap
9) Nick Heidfeld – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
10) Takuma Sato – Jordan-Honda +1 Lap

2001
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:41’49.675
2) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +3.363
3) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +3.940
4) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW +49.687
5) Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes +1’10.293
6) Nick Heidfeld – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
7) Kimi Räikkönen – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
8)Juan Pablo Montoya – Williams-BMW +1 Lap
9) Jacques Villeneuve – BAR-Honda +2 Laps
10) Jean Alesi – Prost-Acer +2 Laps

2000
1) Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:45’33.869
2) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari +7.917
3) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +8.455
4) Rubens Barrichello – Ferrari +44.157
5) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-BMW +50.437
6) Heinz-Harald Frentzen – Jordan-Mugen-Honda +1’08.099
7) Jarno Trulli – Jordan-Mugen-Honda +1 Lap
8)Eddie Irvine – Jaguar-Cosworth +1 Lap
9) Jenson Button – Williams-BMW +1 Lap
10) Mika Salo – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap

1999
1) Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes – 1:46’23.536
2) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +9.706
3) Eddie Irvine – Ferrari +27.228
4) Heinz-Harald Frentzen – Jordan-Mugen-Honda +31.815
5) Rubens Barrichello – Stewart-Ford +43.808
6) Damon Hill – Jordan-Mugen-Honda +55.726
7) Alexander Wurz – Benetton-Playlife +1’01.012
8)Jarno Trulli – Prost-Peugeot +1 Lap
9) Ralf Schumacher – Williams-Supertec +1 Lap
10) Olivier Panis – Prost-Peugeot +1 Lap

1998
1) Michael Schumacher – Ferrari – 1:45’25.550
2) David Coulthard – McLaren-Mercedes +9.433
3) Jacques Villeneuve – Williams-Mecachrome +44.444
4) Damon Hill – Jordan-Mugen-Honda +55.076
5) Heinz-Harald Frentzen – Williams-Mecachrome +56.510
6) Mika Hakkinen – McLaren-Mercedes +1 Lap
7) Jean Alesi – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap
8)Giancarlo Fisichella – Benetton-Playlife +1 Lap
9) Ralf Schumacher – Jordan-Mugen-Honda +1 Lap
10) Johnny Herbert – Sauber-Petronas +1 Lap

Photo: BMW Motorsports

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