It’s just been a short hop, skip and a jump from Germany to Hungary this week, as we go into the second half of this back-to-back and our fifth grand prix in six weeks. After this weekend (or at least, after the two-day test that follows) we’re heading into the summer break – but this isn’t a time to be thinking about winding down.
After Monaco, the Hungaroring is the least power-sensitive circuit of the year, with a much higher emphasis placed on downforce and chassis dynamics. Having won in Monaco, we’re very highly motivated to put in an equally good performance here.
It’s been a good track for us in the past: we’ve been on the podium nine times here, including two wins, and have twice been on pole. We’ve also set the fastest lap five times in the last ten years. Both of our victories here have come by way of Australia and both were, in different ways, thrillers. Mark Webber’s win in 2010 demonstrated how very, very good a combination Mark and the RB6 were. Left in a precarious lead after a safety car period, Mark had about 20 laps to pull out a 25s gap over Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari. Mark put the hammer down and built himself a pit window, allowing him to come in, retain the lead and win the race.
In 2014, Daniel Ricciardo went at it the other way: in trademark Ricciardo style, he ran long in the middle of the race, giving him a short burst on fresh rubber at the end. He had to pass Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso to get the victory – which is a pretty good way to win any race but particularly one at the Hungaroring where overtaking – however good your tyre advantage – is definitely at a premium.
The weather at the Hungaroring generally falls into one of two categories: it’s either baking hot or apocalyptically wet. The long-range weather forecast suggests both are possible this weekend: it’s certainly going to be very hot, but there are thunderstorms expected for the weekend. Most weekends we’d like a little bit of weather to shake things up – this may not be one of those. Spectators at the track may agree: most of the seating here in uncovered.
Whatever happens, this is a great race for spectators. The circuit is set in a natural amphitheatre, so the views of the tight, twisty circuit tend to be far-ranging. The track itself is about 20km to the north east of Budapest, so it’s one of those races where the action moves around: city-based events on Wednesday and in the evenings, interspersed by the track action. While F1 has plenty of tradition in Hungary, it’s always a very international audience for this weekend with fans travelling to Budapest from all over Europe. It’s been adopted as the home grand prix by Finns – but you’ll see a wide range of national flags in the grandstands.