"Germany proved to be a busy weekend for the team from start to finish – both in the garage and off track as the home race for Mercedes-Benz. The big talking point going into the weekend was, of course, the demise of FRIC. Much was made of its potential impact on the relative performance of the teams, but as we saw from the first sessions on Friday this did not come to fruition. Lewis’ incident during qualifying came as a big shock. The damage to the car left us with some difficult decisions to make and, in the end, changes to the gearbox meant a 5-place penalty dropped Lewis even further down the grid. Lewis then produced a superb recovery drive from the back of the grid to claim a fine podium finish. Nico, meanwhile, built on a strong qualifying position with a perfectly judged race performance to take a well-earned home win. We now move on to Hungary, which will be another interesting challenge. It’s usually very hot in Budapest, which will be a consideration in terms of car setup. Overtaking is also notoriously tough around the Hungaroring circuit – with a high emphasis placed on a good qualifying result. Lewis has a fantastic record at this particular venue, with four pole positions and four wins from his seven races here. Nico, by contrast, has had a tough time in Hungary in previous years. However, judging by his performance in Germany last weekend we should be set for another fascinating battle between the two drivers. As a team, we will approach this race as we would any other as we look to cap off a strong start to the season with an equally strong result heading into the summer break.
Hungaroring: The Inside Line"
Budapest: On the Pit Wall
The Hungaroring is a highly technical circuit which requires a very different driving style – beyond the standard procedure of taking a late apexes and managing traction on exit. Through many of the corners, the fastest line may require drivers to hold minimum speed – a technique which suits some more than others. This will also play to the strengths of some cars more than others, with those that can sustain extended periods of lateral loading coming to the fore. It’s a track at which getting everything spot on is extremely difficult, with rhythm playing an important role – much as it does in Monaco, although not to the same extent.
Overtaking is notoriously difficult at the Hungaroring. The start / finish straight is not particularly long, while the second DRS zone between Turns One and Two is more of a kink – offering equally scare opportunities for passing manoeuvres. Qualifying is therefore crucial, with races often defined by the starting grid. That said, Lewis pulled off two fantastic overtaking manoeuvres in 2013 to take an impressive victory. There were done through corners where the opposition would never have expected to be passed – proving that with the right level of bravery, it can be done…
Safety car probability is surprising low here given the narrow nature of the circuit. There are, however, very few gravel run-off areas, with tarmac preferred through most corners – which is undoubtedly a contributing factor.
Budapest has historically seen the softest allocation of tyre compounds, the soft and Supersoft, however Pirelli have remained consistent with their choice of Soft and Medium, as 2013. This is a contrast to Germany, where we had the more aggressive choice of the Supersoft and Soft. The Hungaroring track surface is not overly abrasive, with one stop strategies having been deployed on occasion in the past. However, temperatures frequently reach levels sufficient to introduce three stop strategies – which have been a far more frequent occurrence.
There have been wet sessions every now and then during Hungarian Grands Prix weekends, but these are few and far between. 2011 saw a wet race and P2 was damp in 2012, but 2013 was a completely dry event. When it does rain in Budapest it rains very heavily indeed, but generally speaking the weather is relatively easy predict. It lies at the upper end of the range in terms of heat, with temperatures rising as high as 45 degrees – similar to the peak levels seen in Austria two races ago.
Combining with Germany to form the first pair of back-to-back races since Malaysia and Bahrain way back in March / April, Budapest throws the teams back into a situation where preparation time is scarce. Whereas there has been plenty of time to prepare in advance of the more recent races, some resource has also been put into preparations for both Hockenheim and Budapest with the truncated timescale in mind – the priority being to ensure that data is not lacking by the time the teams arrive at the second event.