F1 – Another Perspective: Team Williams Hungary for More
Over the years of its running, the Hungarian grand prix has maintained a reputation for a passionate atmosphere, even with the conspicuous absence of a home driver since Zsolt Baumgartner’s unremarkable fifteenth-place finish in the 2004 event.
As a setting for a Formula One race, its proximity to the relatively unspoilt capital city of Budapest provides the perfect combination of vibrancy and culture. However, it is the action on the track which takes centre stage and, for the rookie drivers, the contrast to the Silverstone circuit can come as a huge shock and wreck all but the best-laid plans.
Success at the Hungaroring relies hugely on technical nous and pure driving skill as opposed to the pace and power demanded by Silverstone. The corners are deliberately spaced to ensure that no driver can enjoy moments of respite, with tyre integrity at a premium.
With hot summers the norm in Budapest, driver stamina and thermal degradation are additional issues that usually face every construction team that hits the circuit.
So near yet so far…
For much of the British Grand Prix, a podium finish looked a certainty for Felipe Massa before a late surge by Sebastian Vettel denied the Brazilian a huge result. Though the pace demanded by Silverstone made the event something of a formality for Mercedes, both Williams drivers will travel to Hungary in fine spirit, having stunned race fans throughout the first half of the last race.
With the destination of the constructor’s title all but assured, Massa’s dramatic flight off the grid at Silverstone will be a much-discussed point over the winter as the long-term future of F1, and the fabric of the competition, remains the focal point.
Though Massa will be high on confidence, the history books do not indicate that he will improve on his showing at Silverstone, and the usual mid-points finish appears to be the only possible result.
Massa’s teammate Valtteri Bottas has the natural skill to make an impact at the Hungaroring. However, the experience needed to negotiate the track and maintain driving form is still somewhat lacking in the young Finn.
A force to be reckoned with
Force India remains something of a surprise package this season. With Force India teammates Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez performing consistently across a variety of tracks, a few surprises should be expected as drivers across the roster acclimatise to the new upgrades.
Most notably, the B-spec update has been reported as a major boost for both drivers, with Nico Hulkenberg himself stating, “After the first couple of laps in the new car I knew we had made a step in the right direction and I had a smile on my face.”
In the interim between the British and Hungarian Grands Prix, the technical staff at Force India has been forced to process a phenomenal amount of data for the upcoming race. However, the key to success is much simpler, as the hot and dry conditions will suit the physics of the Force India cars, with softer tyres working in Hulkenberg and Perez’ favour on the low-speed corners.
Lewis Hamilton holds a fantastic record at the circuit, and is set to overtake Michael Schumacher in the all-time stakes with a fifth win at the Hungaroring. It is difficult to envisage the reigning champion encountering much trouble – compared to the erratic conditions endured at Silverstone, Sunday’s race should be a proverbial ‘piece of cake’.
In last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo prevented Hamilton from gaining a fourth consecutive win at the circuit. Superior tyre management was the main key to victory and, with the supersoft tyres set to play their part, a podium finish for Ricciardo should not be ruled out.
For live updates of the Hungarian Grand Prix, visit Motorsport24 – race begins at 12.00 UTC on 26 July.