Preview 10 - Hungarian GP
Wednesday 23-July-2014 22:43 The Hungaroring is tight and twisty, like Monaco without the barriers, the tax dodgers and the American film stars on the grid who don't know which way the cars are pointing. When it rains, it can be spectacularly slippy. Sometimes there are spellbinding races and sometimes it's like this season's MotoGP Championship...
Jenson Button loves Budapest almost as much as Bernie (for whom the organisers have erected a small statue) (or it may be a statue of Dudley Moore). Jenson's a multiple winner here: "I won my first Grand Prix here back in 2006 for Honda - it was one of those days when everything seemed to go my way - and I won my 200th Grand Prix here. That was an emotional day - and it was back in 2011 - I can't believe it was nearly 60 races ago."
Most drivers struggle to find a nice thing to say about the Hungaroring, but not Jenson: "The Hungaroring is a great track. Everybody thinks of it as a slow circuit, but, out the back, it's got some pretty decent corners - Turn Four requires some serious commitment, and it's made harder because it has a blind apex. Equally, the sequence of S-bends that make up Turns Eight to 11 are really satisfying to drive."
The weather is scheduled to be scorchio again. Friday looks fine and hot in Budapest with sun and an ambient temperature of around 28C. On Saturday there'll be sun, but there could be thunderstorms from 2pm onwards. Rain is more likely to come later in the day, though, and there'll be an ambient of 30C. On Sunday it gets potentially very interesting with thunder storms and rain predicted from 2pm through to 8pm, but still very hot.
We've had four tyre-stops in Hungarian GPs before now but Pirelli's Paul Hembury doesn't think there'll be that many - even though the track temperatures will be high again. "The tyres we are bringing to Hungary are a step harder, to deal with the increased demands, so we would expect the usual two pit-stops - although we will only have a better idea of this once we get to free practice on Friday."
Lewis has a fantastic record at the Hungaroring, with four pole positions and four wins from his seven races there. Nico Rosberg has had a tough time in Hungary in previous years. His best result was in 2009 with Williams where he got a fourth place.
Toto Wolff is hoping to make it to Germany after a bike accident left him with a broken wrist, elbow, shoulder and collar bone. Ironically Toto was taking part in a Mercedes team building day. Which only goes to prove that cycling is far more dangerous than F1. Toto is putting up with all kinds of jokes including: "should've let the missus do the steering..."
After a strong result in Germany Williams are now P3 in the Constructors' table and have got their eye on overtaking Red Bull to be P2. Williams head of vehicle performance, Rob Smedley, wants to continue the momentum. "It's a very important race as it's the last before the summer break. Psychologically it's important to get a good haul of points and come away in a strong position. In terms of the track, it's one where rear tyre graining can be an issue, depending on the modulus of the tyre. In the past, teams have suffered from front graining as well, so it will be a struggle to control both."
Drivers will have to pay special attention as to how they rejoin the track . Following Kimi Raikkonen's massive accident at Silverstone, FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting made it clear in the Hockenheim drivers' briefing that drivers must rejoin the track safely and that Kimi was a gnat's whisker away from a penalty. Lewis Hamilton has received a drive-through penalty in the past at the Hungaroring for spinning and rejoining in an unsafe manner.
Finally - who's this talking? "I really like the Hungaroring and it's a place that holds special memories for me having won here in GP2 from pole position." Romain Grosjean? Sergio Perez? Kevin Magnussen? Jean-Eric Vergne?
No, Max Chilton. He may not be starting so high up on Sunday.*
*and Romain, too, as it happens.