This weekend the city of Budapest will play host to the fourth grand prix of the overwhelming Formula One month that was July. During this frantic period the teams have travelled from France to Britain to Germany and now down to Hungary. This former Eastern Bloc country that has been playing host to F1 races for nearly two decades and the action – what there is of it – takes place at the Hungaroring, a twisty circuit that is notoriously difficult for overtaking. Panasonic Toyota Racing heads to the Hungarian Grand Prix looking to consolidate its position of 4th in the constructors' championship after a month in which points have become increasingly precious.
LET'S TWIST AGAIN
After the disappointments of Germany, Jarno Trulli travels to the twisting Hungaroring circuit holding onto a share of 5th place in the drivers' championship with 31 points.
Jarno Trulli (Car 16): "After my race to forget at Hockenheim, I'll be looking for a better finish in Hungary. The track is challenging because it is very narrow, with lots of corners in a relatively short lap. It's very difficult for overtaking but it is still quite a fun circuit to drive. It's usually very hot in Budapest and the twisty nature of the circuit means that it tends to be a long race, often close to two hours. You have to keep up your concentration all the way through because the circuit is very dirty off line and you can't afford any mistakes. If you run wide you will go backwards because it takes a long time to clean the tyres off. The track can change as the dust blows around, so it can be quite tricky to get the car handling well and going quickly. When it comes to set-up, the trick is to gain mechanical grip in the slower corners while running quite soft to make the car driveable over the bumps."
Passing comes at a premium in Hungary so grid position is especially important, but Ralf Schumacher will have the benefit of going out late after his points finish in Germany last weekend.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 17): "Budapest in July is one of the hottest venues that we go to during the year, so we can expect another sweltering weekend. The circuit is not used much outside of the grand prix, so it is extremely dusty on the opening day of practice. The Hungaroring is famous for being one of the hardest circuits for overtaking on the entire calendar, so grid position is particularly important and going out late in the session is an advantage. If you are stuck for long periods in another car's slipstream your car's system temperatures can go up, so we sometimes have to back off during the race to let cooler air run through the car. But a couple of years ago they extended the straight so nothing is impossible. Hopefully we can extend our run of three straight finishes in the points."
IF YOU CAN STAND THE HEAT
The Hungaroring is a testing circuit for the engineers because of the extreme heat and the subsequent high system temperatures that need to be kept in check.
Dieter Gass – Chief Race Engineer: "The Hungaroring is a maximum downforce circuit, making it important to have a solid aerodynamic package. It's quite similar to Monaco, both in terms of average speed and average brake temperatures. Because there are no long straights, the brakes do not have time to cool down and being continuously applied over the whole lap and therefore the entire race. It is so hard to overtake that we must also consider the effects of running continuously in another driver's slipstream. All the temperatures inside the car rise dramatically in these conditions – engine, brakes, gearbox – so we have to monitor the system temperatures carefully. But once we have successfully negotiated the start and the first few corners, it is important to open up enough of a gap between your car and the ones behind in order not to compromise the pit stop strategy. This year we have seen that generally if a car stops later than the car it is closely following then it can build up enough of a time advantage to get past and that has to be avoided at all costs."