Reports

Hungarian F1 Grand Prix

2016 HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX - PREVIEW

Circuit Stats
2015 winner Sebastian Vettel, 69 laps, 1:46:09.985s
2015 pole position Lewis Hamilton, 1m22.020s
2015 fastest lap Daniel Ricciardo, 1m24.821s (lap 68)
Name Hungaroring
First race 1986
Circuit length 4.381km/2.722 miles (16th longest of the season)
Distance to Turn One 610m/0.379 miles (longest of season: Barcelona 730m/0.454 miles)
Longest straight 908m/0.564 miles, on the approach to Turn One
Top speed 310km/h/193mph, on the approach to Turn One (fastest of season: Monza, 360km/h/224mph)
Pitlane length 360m/0.224 miles, estimated time loss 18s (longest of season: Silverstone, 489m/0.304 miles)
Full throttle 55 per cent (highest of season: Monza, 75 per cent)
DRS zones Two, on the approaches to Turns One and Two
Key corner Turn 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 corner 93km/h (58mph), Turn One
Major changes for 2016 None, bar a few changes to the kerbs
Fuel consumption 2.1kg per lap, which is relatively high
ERS demands Medium. 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 wear Medium. There’s a significant braking event into Turn One, where the cars pull 5g, but that’s the only big braking zone
Gear changes 48 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.

DRIVERS ON: THE CIRCUIT

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.”

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.”

Event Stats
Start time 14:00hrs local/13:00hrs BST
Race distance 70 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/53 laps)
Safety Car likelihood Low. 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 record Qualifying. 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 on The 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 Forecast 28 degrees and sunny
Tyre choices Supersoft/Soft/Medium, a combination that was last used at the European Grand Prix in Baku

Event Facts
First British Grand Prix 1986
Official Slogan There isn’t an official slogan, but the track is known colloquially as ‘Monaco without the walls’.
Britain’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 win 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.”

DRIVERS ON: THE EVENT

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.”

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

“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

"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."

 

2016 HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX - PRACTICE

“We’ll fight hard to get into Q3 tomorrow”

Today was a productive one, spent fitting and evaluating new components on both sides of the garage while adapting the MP4-31 to the new asphalt laid on the Hungaroring circuit for this year. Both drivers struggled with sensitive rear-end balance in the first session as the slippery track gradually rubbered in, but by the end of FP2 they were happy with the progress made over the course of the day.

The team took the opportunity to change a number of set-up components throughout today’s running, and tested a new floor and front wing, among other parts. Fernando’s power unit was changed between the sessions after an anomaly was found in the data at the end of FP1, but he lost little running and both sessions were completed successfully and trouble-free.

FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-02
FP1 1m23.935s (+2.588s) 28 laps 7th
FP2 1m22.328s (+1.893s) 21 laps 7th

“It’s been a hectic weekend already on our side of the garage, with a power unit change between the two sessions. I didn’t feel there was anything wrong with the engine in FP1, but after the session the data showed some anomalies and Honda therefore preferred to change it for FP2.

“Our positions today look reasonably good but we need to wait and see what happens tomorrow. There’s still quite a lot to do to improve things, especially on the set-up, but we have a few ideas.

“We’ll fight hard to get into Q3 tomorrow, and I think we’ll have a chance to make it, as we’ve done successfully already a few times in the past few races.

“Overtaking on this track is very difficult, so starting as close as possible to the front is paramount.”

JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-03
FP1 1m23.961s (+2.614s) 18 laps 8th
FP2 1m22.387s (+1.952s) 34 laps 8th

“I’m pretty happy with the way the car feels, on both long runs and low-fuel runs. Having said that, tyre degradation is definitely going to be important here on Sunday: it seems the Soft tyre has very good degradation, but the Supersoft is struggling just a bit.

“As always, the Hungaroring circuit is great fun to drive – and it’s giving us a good feeling as well, especially now that the track surface is gripping up. As for the asphalt itself, I like the new smoother surface – and it seems to be working for us, too.

“It’s pretty tight in the midfield – we ended up seventh and eighth both this morning and this afternoon, and everyone behind us was very close – so the closest fight is definitely behind us, not in front of us.

“Our goal is to qualify as well as we can, then score some good world championship points. I think we should be able to do that – that’s our aim certainly.”

ERIC BOULLIER

“Today was a successful day as far as our run programmes were concerned.

“In both FP1 this morning and FP2 this afternoon, both our cars ran well for the most part. We made good progress, and both drivers reported satisfactory handling balance by the day’s end.

“Perhaps the sinuous topography of the notoriously serpentine Hungaroring suits our car’s performance envelope rather better than do the layouts of most other circuits – but, if so, we’ll take the smooth with the rough whenever it comes our way.

“We’ll now crunch the data we obtained today, in an effort to build on our encouraging start, our target being to qualify both our cars tomorrow in positions advantageous enough from which to launch a dual bid for a decent clutch of world championship points on Sunday.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

"Today's running sessions were very busy, with back-to-back aero testing and confirmation on both cars.

“It is yet difficult to predict where we are performance-wise this weekend, but both drivers were relatively appreciative of the feeling they had in the car. So far, a good start to the weekend.

“On the last lap of FP1 Fernando's ICE showed a data anomaly; therefore, we elected to swap the full power unit to run in the afternoon's FP2 session. The data will be further investigated."

2016 HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX - QUALIFYING

“We now need to finish the job tomorrow, hopefully with some points”

A long and hectic qualifying session in Hungary, and, despite heavy and unpredictable downpours which led to three red-flag interruptions and a premature finish to the first session, the combined experience of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso paid dividends in very difficult driving conditions.

Early on in Q1, Jenson struggled with front-end grip and it was discovered that he had incurred some damage to his front wing. This was quickly changed and, thanks to some quick thinking and well executed decisions by the team, both drivers transitioned to Q2.

In Q2 and on a rapidly drying track, both drivers took full advantage of their tyre allocation, running continually throughout the session apart from a single ‘box’ to change from Intermediate to Option tyres, and each driver comfortably progressed through to Q3.

In the final session, the track times got progressively quicker and each of our drivers set a representative time. On his final lap, Fernando outbraked himself and spun at Turn Nine, which brought out the yellow flags with just over a minute to go and meant both he and Jenson were not able to post quicker laps. Despite that, they will start P7 and P8 respectively – the best qualifying result for the team since the start of the renewed McLaren-Honda partnership.

#14 Fernando Alonso, MP4-31-02
FP3 7th 1m21.584s (+1.323s), 11 laps
Q1 3rd 1m35.165s (on Intermediates)
Q2 4th 1m23.816s (on Options)
Q3 7th 1m21.211 (on Options)

“Both McLarens are in the top 10 in qualifying for the first time in a long time, so it’s definitely a step forward for us again this weekend and I’m happy with the direction and progression the team is heading in. I especially enjoyed the tricky conditions in Q2, when we were very fast. Today we were quick in dry conditions, quick in the wet and even quicker in mixed conditions. On the dry tyres in mixed conditions we took some risks and I really enjoyed it.

“It’s looking good this weekend, this circuit suits our car a little bit better, and I’ve been P7 in every single session so far, so we’re pretty competitive, and hopefully we can improve on that tomorrow.

“On my final lap I braked very late into Turn Six, cut the chicane and lost some time there, so I wanted to recover the lost time. I probably overdrove and at Turn Nine I spun. It’s a bit frustrating because I think we could have gained a couple of tenths which I lost instead because of my mistake, but anyway P7 for tomorrow is okay, and I’ll be starting on the clean side of the track.

“We now need to finish the job tomorrow, hopefully with some points.”

#22 Jenson Button, MP4-31-03
FP3 13th 1m22.009s (+1.748s), 11 laps
Q1 10th 1m37.983s (on Intermediates)
Q2 7th 1m24.456s (on Options)
Q3 8th 1m21.597 (on Options)

“The car was working well today in the mixed conditions. You always enjoy it when you’ve got to think on your feet and it’s different every lap - I think Fernando and I are both very good at that. I was definitely up on my last lap by a few tenths but I don’t know if it would’ve made any difference at the end anyway; obviously the yellow flags meant we couldn’t complete it and sometimes that happens in these conditions.

“It’s pretty good to have both cars in the top 10 but as soon as you do that, that’s not enough and you want more. I’ll be starting on the dirty side of the track tomorrow, which will be tough, but we’ll make the best of it. There’s new asphalt here though, and with the rain today it might actually make it a bit better than we think. We’re in front of all the cars we should be racing which is good, but the others in front are too fast for us.

“In the wet it was really difficult to get the tyres working; I particularly struggled with fronts. We had a small front wing problem, where something came loose, but we fixed that and then it was fine. We still struggled with the front end in the wet conditions but we got there in the end, and in the drying conditions it was a lot of fun and we got the best out of it.

“We’ll start P7 and P8, which isn’t too bad. In these conditions we always do a good job, so I’m happy for the team. I really don’t know what to expect tomorrow – but I’m looking forward to it anyway!”

Eric Boullier

“For the first time since the 2014 Brazilian Grand Prix we got both our cars through to Q3 – and, although that isn’t the kind of result on which McLaren built its illustrious reputation, it’s heartening nonetheless.

“Moreover, undeniably, it showcases the relentless progress we’re making, race by race, week by week.

“Both our drivers handled the pressure of a topsy-turvy two-hour quali session with commendable aplomb, and they fully deserved the eventual starting positions they earned themselves: P7 and P8.

“From those grid slots, they’re well placed to attack tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix with the disciplined determination on which they’ve built their reputations as two of the grittiest drivers in modern-day Formula 1.

“We tend to try not to over-promise ahead of any Grand Prix, but undoubtedly our ambition is to score points with both cars tomorrow.”

Yusuke Hasegawa

“It’s fantastic to see both cars inside the top ten today, with Fernando finishing in P7 and Jenson in P8. The conditions throughout qualifying were extremely tricky, with torrential rain followed by sunshine, and both the drivers and the team managed the situation extremely well.

“This is also the first time McLaren-Honda has got both cars into Q3, so it’s a positive result for us, especially in the drying conditions of Q3 where we would normally lose ground. However, we were able to bring together our chassis and power unit performance, while managing the changing strategy with ease. We now hope that we can have a strong race tomorrow and hopefully score some championship points.”

2016 HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX

“Not quite seventh heaven, but a solid and encouraging performance that underlines our good progress”

It was mixed fortunes for the McLaren-Honda team at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso had a trouble-free race, starting in seventh position and maintaining his gap to the competition behind to finish in the same place in which he had started, bringing home six valuable world championship points. 

Conversely, Jenson Button suffered bad luck throughout his afternoon. On lap four, a sensor failure caused his brakes to stop functioning properly, and the team was forced to give him the necessary information over the garage-to-car radio so as to resolve the issue. Already in last place despite having started eighth, he then incurred a drive-through penalty for transgressing the new regulations in respect of radio communications. After a valiant drive from the back of the field to try to make up some of the positions he had lost, he retired on lap 60 owing to an oil leak while fighting Felipe Massa for 18th place.

#14 Fernando Alonso, MP4-31-02
Started 7th
Finished 7th
Fastest lap 1m24.958s on lap 62 (+1.872s, 8th)
Pit-stops Two: laps 15 (2.85s), 44 (2.59s) [Option-Prime-Prime]

“Well, P7 has been my position all weekend! It’s a pity we couldn’t improve this afternoon but still I think we were best of the rest today. Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari are out of reach at the moment for everyone – they’re on another level – so, in the other mini-championship we’re racing in, we were quite competitive and I feel we delivered the maximum we could today.

“There wasn’t much action in the race though. For us, it was a little bit of a boring afternoon at some points – not the usual Hungaroring show – and the only retirement, unfortunately, was Jenson.

“I’m happy about how the weekend went and hopefully we can keep this up progress. We’ve been more or less competitive here and at Silverstone, on two very different circuits, so I’m looking forward to next weekend at Hockenheim.”

#22 Jenson Button, MP4-31-03
Started 8th
Finished DNF - oil leak (60 laps)
Fastest lap 1m26.744s on lap 9 (+3.658s, 21st)
Pit-stops Three: laps 7 (2.72s), 10 (drive-through) and 28 (3.10s) [Option-Prime-Back-Up]

“It wasn’t a great afternoon for me.

“We had a brake sensor problem early on, which meant the pedal went to the floor, and it’s never nice for a driver to get that feeling. The brakes just weren’t there, which was a big safety concern. The team told me to make a switch change on the steering wheel to make sure it wouldn’t happen again, and it duly resolved itself, but we got a penalty for the communication. We pitted so that they could give me the information I needed, but I guess we should have pitted earlier than we did. Having said that, it didn’t really matter as I was last anyway. 

“I completely understand that drivers shouldn’t be fed information that helps us drive our cars – we should be able to deal with that job ourselves, and in fact I love that challenge. But when it’s a safety concern, I don’t think you should get penalised for preventing an accident, as we did today. When you have a power unit that’s so complex, a driver can’t figure out everything for himself. It’s a regulation that shouldn’t be in place at this level of a sport which is so good in so many other ways, and I think commonsense should now prevail.

“I also had a mechanical issue which meant I had massive understeer throughout the whole race; and then, in the end, we retired with an oil leak. I don’t know if it’s salvageable – I hope so – but we’re investigating.”

Eric Boullier

“Jenson was unfortunate to have a promising weekend brought to an untimely end by an oil leak, which led to the most disappointing initials in racing: DNF.

“He’d driven very well all weekend – in fact he may even have qualified even better than his eventual P8 yesterday if his run hadn’t been compromised through no fault of his own – but I guess that’s racing.

“As for Fernando, I may be wrong, but I think the consistency he’s demonstrated over the past three days may be a record-breaker. It reads as follows: FP1: P7; FP2: P7; FP3: P7; Quali: P7; Race: P7. Not quite seventh heaven, but a solid and encouraging performance that underlines the good progress we’re making all the time. 

“From here we’ll travel to Baden-Württemberg, for the German Grand Prix, the last race of the first half of the season. The Hockenheim circuit may not suit our car / power unit combo quite as well as did the Hungaroring this weekend, but we’ll be gunning for points yet again; be in no doubt of that.”

Yusuke Hasegawa

"It was a positive weekend for the team to be leading the midfield pack. We were consistently the fourth-quickest team, with Fernando finishing 'best of the rest' in P7 in all the sessions, which once again displays our progress as a team, and helps build confidence for the second half of the season.

"On the other hand, Jenson was hampered with a brake system sensor issue, which put him at the back of the field in the early laps of the race. In the end, the team had to retire his car due to an oil leak. At the moment, we don’t see any issue with the power unit, but the team will continue to investigate.

“It was another bitter-sweet weekend to see one side of the garage happy and the other disappointed."