2010 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview


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Round 12 - Hungaroring

This year marks the twenty-fifth running of the modern Magyar Nagydíj, all held at the Hungaroring on the outskirts of beautiful Budapest. Back in 1986, of course, the inclusion of the first Grand Prix held behind the Iron Curtain caused considerable interest. Luckily for ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone, that first race was a great success and set the template for an event that has consistently been favoured by large numbers of fans from all over Europe (including Finland!) if not always by the drivers.

The circuit itself has remained comparatively unchanged since debuting on the calendar. It has been described as "Monaco without the walls" and the tight, twisting lap does produce one of the slowest average speeds of the season. In 1989 a convoluted loop section on the exit of what is now Turn 3 was bypassed, giving the circuit a second straight worthy of the name. The safety review following the deaths of Ratzenberger and Senna in 1994 had no recommendations for the Hungaroring, and it was 2003 before any more changes were made - this time lengthening the main straight and tightening the first corner, as well as one of the 90-degree right-handers towards the end of the lap, in an attempt to create some much-needed overtaking possibilities.

The first race, though largely uneventful, is fondly remembered for Nelson Piquet's four-wheel-drift pass around the outside of Ayrton Senna's Lotus at the first turn. Subsequent events proved how difficult passing can be, with Thierry Boutsen keeping a gaggle of faster car/driver combinations at bay to score his final victory in 1990. The year before, Nigel Mansell had proved the exception to the rule (as so often), climbing from 12th on the grid to take a superb victory for Ferrari. Nigel won his world championship title with a second place there in 1992, while Damon Hill took his first win in Hungary the following year, after several near-misses.

In 1998 the Hungaroring was the scene of one of Michael Schumacher's greatest performances. The German superstar went into the weekend trailing McLaren's Mika Hakkinen in the world championship and spent the first part of the race trapped behind his rival and the other McLaren of David Coulthard. Following Ross Brawn's switch onto a three-stop strategy, Schumacher produced a series of blistering laps to make up a seemingly insurmountable deficit and rejoined from his final pitstop in a lead he would not lose. The circuit showcased another great driving performance in 2006, when Jenson Button sealed his long-awaited first victory with a wet-weather masterclass in the Honda. The event has, perhaps surprisingly, rarely been won by the seasonal champion, the last occasion being Michael Schumacher's victory in 2004.

The circuit presents a number of challenges to teams and drivers - the track is seldom used by other series throughout the year and in August is usually very dry and dusty, taking a long time to "rubber-in" as the weekend progresses. Cooling can be an issue, with ambient temperatures averaging 27C and only one long straight to feed the radiators with high-energy air. Finally, the drivers are put to the test both physically and mentally, with few opportunities to relax concentration over a very busy lap, and one of the longest race durations.

The overall finishing rate at the Hungaroring is around the average for this year's circuits.
The likelihood of a driver-related retirement is also average.
Mechanical failures at Budapest are a more likely occurrence than at other current tracks.
Finally, the circuit ranks as about average for first-lap retirements in the past five years.

The Last Five Years
200520143229 - Mark Webber (Williams)
2006221455113 - Jenson Button (Honda)
200722182204 - Takuma Sato (Super Aguri) & Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso) & Adrian Sutil (Spyker)
200820183005 - Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber)
200919163007 - Timo Glock (Toyota)
[td]Year[/td][td]Starters[/td][td]Finishers[/td][td]Retirements - Mech[/td][td]Retirements - Acc[/td][td]Lap 1 retirements[/td][td]Most places gained[/td]

Circuit Ranking (of all 18 circuits)
Finishing Rate
10th Spa 78%
11th Hungaroring 78%
12th Monte Carlo 77%

Mechanical Failures
4th Montreal 17%
5th Hungaroring 16%
6th= Melbourne 13%
6th= Sepang 13%

Driver-related Retirements
10th Shanghai 10%
11th Hungaroring 9%
12th Suzuka 8%

First lap Retirements
7th Sepang 3.8%
8th Hungaroring 2.9%
9th Valencia 2.5%

Impressively, this year's grid includes six former Hungarian Grand Prix winners, and three other podium finishers - plus Sebastian Vettel, Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica, who fall into neither category! Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button both recorded their first wins at the circuit, in 2003 and 2006 respectively. Other drivers will take cheer from their previous results; Mark Webber qualified his Jaguar a superb third in 2003, while Pedro de la Rosa was a career-best second behind Button in 2006. Conversely Felipe Massa's best result in Budapest is seventh, and last year a dreadful accident in qualifying approaching Turn 4 brought a premature end to his season. Of the others, Lewis Hamilton has two poles and a fourth in his three starts, while Nico Rosberg qualified fourth in 2007 and has been a consistent scorer.

With four wins in the past five years, and the last three on the bounce, McLaren appear the team to beat at the Hungaroring. While the overall points standings are dominated by McLaren and Ferrari, good results have been reasonably well distributed around the other teams, with wins for Mercedes GP (as Honda) and Renault. In the reliability stakes, Red Bull and sister team Toro Rosso have seen more than their share of reliability gremlins, while Williams have got their cars to the finish on eighteen of the last twenty attempts.

Current Drivers' Records at Hungaroring
Michael Schumacher14121st (4)65412.93
Rubens Barrichello17121st (1)35329.35
Fernando Alonso851st (1)26307.38
Lewis Hamilton331st (2)24002
Jenson Button1071st (1)201211.1
Heikki Kovalainen331st (1)15006.33
Timo Glock222nd (1)11009
Mark Webber873rd (1)11019.25
Jarno Trulli13104th (1)10409.08
Pedro de la Rosa552nd (1)80013.4
Nico Rosberg434th (1)71010.25
Robert Kubica435th (1)5009.5
Felipe Massa657th (2)42010
Jaime Alguersuari1115th (1)00019
Sebastian Vettel3116th (1)02011
Sebastien Buemi1116th (1)00010
Adrian Sutil3117th (1)02019.33
Vitantonio Liuzzi20Ret01116.5
Sakon Yamamoto20Ret00221.5
Karun Chandhok0------
Lucas di Grassi0------
Nico Hulkenberg0------
Kamui Kobayashi0------
Vitaly Petrov0------
Bruno Senna0------
[td]Driver[/td][td]Starts[/td][td]Finishes[/td][td]Best result[/td][td]Points[/td][td]Retirements - Mech[/td][td]Retirements - Acc[/td][td]Average grid pos.[/td]

Chassis Records at Hungaroring (since 2000)
McLaren20171st (5)98215.15
Ferrari19181st (3)93214.37
Williams20183rd (2)39118.05
Mercedes GP20161st (1)294011.8
Renault20121st (1)27538.95
BMW Sauber20153rd (2)193010.9
Red Bull20123rd (1)134410.95
Force India20136th (2)26115.45
Toro Rosso201111th (1)06218.25
[td]Chassis[/td][td]Starts[/td][td]Finishes[/td][td]Best result[/td][td]Points[/td][td]Retirements - Mech[/td][td]Retirements - Acc[/td][td]Average grid pos.[/td]
Results for Mercedes GP include BAR, Honda and Brawn
Results for Renault include Benetton
Results for BMW Sauber include Sauber
Results for Red Bull include Jaguar
Results for Force India include Jordan, Midland and Spyker
Results for Toro Rosso include Minardi

Engine Records at Hungaroring (since 2000)
Mercedes-Benz24201st (5)100316.5
Ferrari45331st (3)998510.16
Renault24161st (1)33538.58
Cosworth26126th (1)38514.81
[td]Engine[/td][td]Starts[/td][td]Finishes[/td][td]Best result[/td][td]Points[/td][td]Retirements - Mech[/td][td]Retirements - Acc[/td][td]Average grid pos.[/td]
Results for Ferrari include Petronas and Acer
Results for Cosworth include Ford

All ranking figures are expressed as a % of total starts.
"Retirements-Acc" are retirements where the reason has been listed as Collision, Accident or Spun Off.
Another excellent posting G! I marvel at your ability to bring so much information together so quickly!

Unfortunately, Hungary is not one of my favorite circuits. "monaco without the walls" is all too apt, and it usually seems rather processional to me. This year has seen more passing than usual, it seems to me, so perhaps this race will be more exciting than I anticipate.
The difference in qualifying and race pace for several teams has kept the races interesting for me, I'm hoping Hungary will be the same.
Lovely as always G, much appreciated.

So, obviously over the last few years this has been a strong McLaren and Hamilton track. You can't help but feel that Lewis will struggle this weekend to maintain those sort of results, it seems to be a track that definitely will not suit McLaren this season having lost the traction they used to enjoy so much around here and Monaco. Few high speed corners will see the RedBulls not being able to exploit their normal strengths, and I'd imagine that Ferrari will continue their form and put in a strong showing here
I do wonder if the McLarens will do well here. It seems their aero package has be largely focused on the F-Duct and more recently the exhaust blown difusser. The difusser's sucess is questionable and the F-duct dosen't seem to be of any value on a slow circuit. But, they have in the past shown their ability to figure this circuit out.
I think perhaps this race has come a week to soon for Mclaren with the EBD after Germany it would be extremely difficult to refine much given the timescale but could always be proved wrong.

Was it here in 97 when Villeneuve made a pretty spectacular round the outside pass on i think Schumacher with a setup on the car more akin to an Indy offset approach mostly seen on ovals?

Nice write up G
slickskid said:
Was it here in 97 when Villeneuve made a pretty spectacular round the outside pass on i think Schumacher with a setup on the car more akin to an Indy offset approach mostly seen on ovals?

That is a fascinating technical question slick, I must look into that. I do know that so long as they stay within the dimensional requirement, one could do just that. Certainly they did that at Indy. Chapman changed the Lotus suspension for that exact purpose at the 500 in 1965.

Off to do some research...............Dammit, I was planning to get some sleep, LoL!
slickskid said:
Was it here in 97 when Villeneuve made a pretty spectacular round the outside pass on i think Schumacher with a setup on the car more akin to an Indy offset approach mostly seen on ovals?

JV did pass Schumacher in Hungary in '97 but from what I recall that was pretty conventional, into turn one. By that stage Damon's Arrows was well out in front!

If I may be so bold, I think the one you're thinking of was at Estoril in 1996, when Villeneuve passed around the outside on the final Parabolica corner.
Galahad said:
If I may be so bold, I think the one you're thinking of was at Estoril in 1996, when Villeneuve passed around the outside on the final Parabolica corner.

Thanks G appreciate the answer, i knew it happened somewhere but couldn't rember off the top of my head.
Rain is predicted now predicted for Friday and Saturday, really bad news for McLaren, who can't seem to get dry practice running at the moment
Wasn't Degsy the Stewards adviser at one of the previous races? As to being an ex-Lotus driver, I think he drove for more teams than Steve Claridge had football clubs...
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