The Hungarian Games

After racing at the ultrafast and flowing Silverstone Circuit for the British Grand Prix, the FIA Formula One World Championship heads to the slowest permanent circuit in Formula One – the Hungaroring for the 24 July Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest.

Slow, however, doesn’t mean easy. Despite an average speed of 190 kph (118 mph), which is 35 kph (22 mph) slower than the average speed around Silverstone, the Hungaroring requires precision and preservation. The 4.381 km (2.722-mile), 14-turn track has few straights. Likened by many to being a full-sized karting circuit, the Hungaroring is a physical track, demanding a lot from the drivers who, in turn, demand a lot from their tyres.

Hot weather is a hallmark of the Hungarian Grand Prix and combined with the technical nature of the Hungaroring, drivers are tested throughout the 70-lap race. There is seemingly constant and drastic steering wheel input and no reprieve from the ever-present heat since only a scant amount of air is able to flow through the car. Bearing the brunt of this hostile environment, however, are the tyres. A high level of traction, a lot of braking and significant lateral energy demands push the tyres to their limits, meaning tyre management is a crucial component of a team’s race strategy.

For those not qualifying up front – where the Hungarian Grand Prix has been won from the first two rows 28 times in its 30-year history – savvy strategy is a must to advance through the field. The epic drives of Nigel Mansell (12th to first in 1989) and Jenson Button (14th to first in 2006) prove that despite the lack of overtaking opportunities, tenacity and tyre management can ring up points at the Hungaroring.

Success on Sunday begins in free practice on Friday. This is where the track is understood and the working ranges of the tyres become known, allowing teams to fine tune their racecars to meet the demands of the day. The more track time, the more data that gets collected and the more likely a point-paying strategy will be formulated.

We haven’t heard much from the team yet but at Silverstone, Haas F1 had its best Friday to date with 671.574 km (417.297 miles) logged between its drivers – Romain Grosjean, Esteban Gutiérrez and Charles Leclerc, the latter of whom drove in the weekend’s opening practice session and is slated to do the same in Hungary. The collective effort led to another productive practice session on Saturday, which resulted in a qualifying performance that led Grosjean and Gutiérrez to believe Sunday would yield their first double-points finish of the year. But a downpour just before the start of the British Grand Prix drowned those hopes.

With the race starting behind the safety car, a sound strategy crafted from two days of strong running went down the drain. Also going down was the power in the team’s pit perch, preventing the engineers from exactly knowing where their drivers were on the track and where they stood in relation to others. This led to a miscommunication that kept Gutiérrez on the track a lap past a planned pit stop on lap 16, which stuck him behind slower cars for 23 laps, allowing the rest of the field to open up a sizeable gap that couldn’t be overcome. Gutiérrez finished 16th while Grosjean suffered a DNF (Did Not Finish) when his transmission broke on lap 18.

After having an eye on eating into the point margin between itself and seventh-place McLaren in the constructor standings, Haas F1 was left starving at Silverstone. Knowing the progress it made and the strength the team showed on Friday and Saturday at Silverstone, the team is hungry for its next point-paying opportunity, and it just might come at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

A great weekend for UK sport

2016 British Grand Prix, Saturday

 

A brief respite from the misery as we see success in cycling, tennis and Formula One as home race heroics from Lewis Hamilton followed for the third time by Nico Rosberg complete a Silver Arrows 1-2 at Silverstone.

In the words of the boys…

Lewis Hamilton: “Best weekend of the whole year! I couldn’t believe it started raining at the beginning of the race. I thought: ‘are you serious?’ It makes it so much harder for everyone when that happens. I couldn’t really see the safety car either. It was going really slowly and my rear brakes were getting way too cold, so I was trying to heat them up and before I knew it I’m heading straight for the back of the thing! Thank goodness I could turn!

“Luckily it was okay and from there I was feeling great in the wet conditions. A huge thank you first of all to the team for doing such an amazing job. Our performance this weekend has been outstanding. The engineers and mechanics did a great job, so big thanks to all of them once again. And then the crowd… I mean, where do they all come from? It’s absolutely amazing! Nothing we see in any other country even comes close – and that for me just shows the passion us Brits have for sport, regardless of the weather. It’s pouring down and these guys are just like ‘yeah, we love it!’

“This is beyond my wildest dreams, honestly. When I was younger I didn’t see the other stuff that comes with being a Formula One driver. I was just in awe of the racing and it wasn’t until I grew up that I started to understand. I’m just trying to bask in the glory and enjoy it because one day I’ll be watching someone else, hopefully a young Brit, winning here and I want to make the most of these moments. For now though, it’s my time – our time. Thank you so much to everyone out there today. It’s just been unbelievable.”

Nico Rosberg: “Lewis did a better job over the whole weekend and deserved the win, so congratulations to him. I was happy to have finished the race as my gearbox issue at the end was really serious and I almost had to retire the car – but luckily I got it fixed. Generally, though, it felt great out there and I had a great pace on the medium tyres. The battle with Max was good fun. It took a bit of time but I managed to overtake him on the outside. Over the whole weekend the atmosphere here at Silverstone was really outstanding.

“Okay, I recognise that some guys out there don’t like me as much as Lewis. But that’s normal in his home country and I felt that the majority was very supportive of me. That’s why the British fans are the best and most passionate racing fans in the world, so thank you to them for making it a really great event. Now I look forward to the last two races before the summer break including my home Grand Prix in Germany.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “This afternoon was Formula One at its best: probably the best fans in the world, a wet-dry race, loads of incidents and overtaking, and a fantastic home winner at the end of it all. On days like this, Lewis is unstoppable: he pulled the gap in the early laps, we made the perfect call on the strategy, then he controlled the race from there. He was calm all day, had everything under control and just nailed the race. Brilliant.

“For Nico, it was a bit trickier: running in the spray in the wet always costs lap time, then he had a long battle with Max. He lost out on the intermediates, but then was able to hunt him down after switching to the dry tyres and pulled off a great outside move in to Stowe, one of the fastest points on the circuit. In the final laps, he was stuck in seventh gear, which was clearly a critical problem that would have resulted in failure.

“Our understanding of the rules is that this kind of message is allowed – it’s not the kind of driver coaching the rules were designed to prevent – so we gave him the necessary information and he did a great job to hold his position and bring the car home. It’s an amazing feeling for the whole team to win a fourth British Grand Prix in a row, in front of so many of our colleagues from our factories in Brixworth and Brackley. It will be a big celebration with our families this evening and then back hard to work in the morning. After so much drama already in 2016, it’s amazing to think we haven’t yet even reached the halfway point of the season…”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical): “A fantastic race result as the home Grand Prix for everyone at Brackley and Brixworth. We haven’t had a 1-2 since Russia, so it’s great to have both drivers up there on the top two steps once again. Our congratulations first and foremost to Lewis on a third consecutive home victory – his fourth in total thus far – and a really perfect weekend overall. We were spared the variability of a standing race start with the last-minute downpour. From there, we had two clean rounds of pit stops – benefiting nicely from a convenient VSC period for the switch to intermediates. Both were double-stops with the drivers arriving in quick succession, which is never an easy task, but were immaculately executed by the crew, so well done to them.

“As the race settled down from there, it was clear that Lewis was in control while Nico had a battle on his hands with Verstappen. The Red Bull was strong in the wet – likely due to their choice to run with a higher wing level over ultimate top speed. It was a great duel between the two of them, with Max managing to make his car very wide indeed but Nico eventually pulling off a fantastic move around the outside at Stowe corner to take the place.

“A crisis then developed six laps from the end when Nico’s gearbox got stuck in seventh gear. To finish the race with minimal use of that gear while also fending off the advances of the Red Bull behind really was a great piece of driving, so we applaud him for that. A huge thank you and congratulations to everyone at Brackley and Brixworth for bringing us such performance from the car and the result today. A proud day for the team in front of a truly fantastic crowd.”

 

Austrian Grand Prix

Summer has arrived, and so too has Formula One’s stretch of European races. Six events between now and early September will take teams competing in the FIA Formula One World Championship to Austria, England, Hungary, Germany, Belgium and Italy.

The Red Bull Ring rings in this summer stretch, with the 4.326 km (2.688 mile) circuit hosting this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix. Located in Spielberg on a condensed version of the Österreichring, which held Formula One races from 1970 until 1987, the Red Bull Ring is a relatively short and compact circuit with just nine turns. Nonetheless, it covers a wide range of conditions.

The Red Bull Ring’s prime overtaking zone comes at turn two (Remus) where after heavy braking drivers navigate the sharp corner in either first or second gear. Juxtapose that section with the high-speed turn eight (Rindt), which drivers take at sixth gear, pushing the limits of their car and their resolve.

Both types of corners, and all the ones in between, require good traction, which is why Pirelli has brought its three softest tyre compounds – P Zero Yellow softs, P Zero Red supersofts and P Zero Purple ultrasofts – to the Austrian Grand Prix.

Special incentive for F1 fans

You can benefit from a very special ticket promotion to mark the 90th anniversary of the Austrian Grand Prix and receive up to 90 euros anniversary discount on each adult ticket for the Mercedes grandstand.

Of course, young fans can also take advantage of ticket price reductions. And it couldn’t be simpler:

To order, simply enter promotion code Mbsilberpfeil2016-4R6P1W at http://www.mb4.me/F1istZURUECK and click enter. The discount is valid while places still remain available and applies only to seats in the Mercedes grandstand.

Ticket ordering procedure:

1. Visit website: http://www.mb4.me/F1istZURUECK
2. Enter promo code in box on right: Mbsilberpfeil2016-4R6P1W
3. Choose ticket type: Weekend or Sunday ticket
4. Click on ‘Mercedes-Tribüne’
5. Choose block (upper / lower tier)
6. Select seats (remaining seats in blue)
7. NB: Click on ‘Mercedes-Rabatt’ in ticket price list
8. Click ‘in den Warenkorb legen’
9. Click on shipping fee
10. Enter your details and pay by SEPA direct debit

The lads in Austria

Hockenheim, Medien-Tag 2016 Hockenheim, Medien-Tag 2016

 

Over the past 90 years, the German Grand Prix has seen a lot of action, excitement and surprises.

Nico Rosberg, Nico Hülkenberg and Pascal Wehrlein have enjoyed quite a few of them, either in the cockpit or as a fan watching on TV or from the stands. In the context of the official media day, they have now experienced that history first hand for themselves – at the wheel of three legendary Formula 1 cars.

Rosberg was invited to drive the McLaren Mercedes in which his childhood idol Mika Häkkinen won the world championship. Hülkenberg took a seat in a historic W 25 Silver Arrow, while Wehrlein was allocated the world championship-winning car of 1954/55 – the famous W 196.

For Rosberg, the outing in Häkkinen’s car was a way of celebrating his 31st birthday the day before. Wehrlein, himself a big fan of the ‘Flying Finn’ sensed an opportunity: “Hmm, I have a birthday coming up soon…”

 

Hockenheim, Medien-Tag 2016

Grand Prix of Europe post race: Williams

Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa

Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan. Sunday 19 June 2016. Felipe Massa, Williams FW38 Mercedes, arrives on the grid. Photo: Glenn Dunbar/Williams ref: Digital Image _W2Q9002

Massa arrives on the grid.

Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan. Sunday 19 June 2016. Valtteri Bottas, Williams Martini Racing, and Jonathan Eddolls, Race Engineer, Williams Martini Racing, on the grid. Photo: Glenn Dunbar/Williams ref: Digital Image _W2Q9054

Valtteri Bottas and Jonathan Eddolls, Race Engineer.

 

Valtteri Bottas finished sixth and Felipe Massa 10th in the European Grand Prix. Bottas made a one-stop strategy work and ran as high as third before making his stop on lap 19. He was able to manage his tyres and strategy well to stay ahead of the two-stoppers and finish sixth. Massa had to run a two-stop strategy due to tyre graining. He was fifth before his first stop on lap 7, and sixth before his final stop on lap 28, but he continued to struggle with his tyres and finished 10th.

The team collected nine points in the Constructors’ Championship, while Bottas retains seventh in the Driver’s Championship and Massa drops to ninth behind Perez.

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: “That was nowhere near what we expected from this race. Valtteri being ninth in that first stint didn’t help us, but he was able to make a one-stop strategy work, as were all the top six. Felipe was struggling with rear graining in the first stint. Valtteri had a little bit of the same, to a lesser extent, and then his tyres came back and he was quite strong towards the end of that stint. He was going quicker and quicker so we could leave him out and he was able to get up to sixth, but it’s still a disappointing result.

“The team did a fantastic job with the pit stops, the strategy worked out and gained some positions for Valtteri but unfortunately we couldn’t do it for Felipe as well because of tyre degradation. The team is working really well, it’s the car’s pace that’s let us down. The main thing we need to take away from this race is that we were out of position, in terms of pace, compared to Force India. We’ve got to go away and understand why we weren’t quick enough, so that’s what we’ll concentrate on. We’ve got Austria coming up so we need to look forward.

Valtteri Bottas: “Overall, it was a good day for us because the pace we had today wasn’t enough for any more. It felt like a good race from my side, and we managed to do the one-stop strategy which was definitely the best one today. I’m glad we could manage the tyres and get it to work because that made the sixth place possible. The team did a really good job with what we had today, the strategy and the pitstop. Now we need to work hard because we need better positions than this. We need to make the car quicker and then we can fight for another podium soon.”

Felipe Massa: “It was a really terrible race for me, one to forget. I struggled massively with the tyres. I couldn’t make them work, I was having a lot more degradation on the rears than I thought I would. One point is more than it could have been because I couldn’t drive the car in the proper way and I couldn’t save the tyres either. We maybe need to change something in the car to make the tyres work in a different way here in the future.”

Grand Prix of Europe post race: Force India

 

Sergio Perez celebrates his third position with the team.

Sergio Perez celebrates his third position with the team.

Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 celebrates his third position with the team. European Grand Prix, Sunday 19th June 2016. Baku City Circuit, Azerbaijan.

 

Force India and Sergio Perez picked a second podium finish of the season today after a strong performance at the European Grand Prix in Baku. Nico Hulkenberg battled to ninth place to ensure a double points finish for the team.

Sergio Perez: “I knew that the podium was possible today, but we really had to work hard for it. The key to my race was the great start I made to get around a Williams (Massa) and a Toro Rosso (Kvyat). Then, in the first stint I was suffering with graining of my supersoft tyres and we had to decide whether to wait for it to improve or to make an early stop. In the end, we stayed out longer, which was the right decision, but when I came out of the pits I struggled to warm-up the soft tyres and I was under big pressure from Lewis behind.

“I pushed as hard as I could and opened up a gap, and then I focussed on looking after my tyres. I closed in on Kimi and I knew he had a penalty, but on the final lap I got very close to him and saw the opportunity to overtake him, so I took it. To be on the podium for a second time this year feels fantastic. The team has done a brilliant job and we are having an amazing year.”

Nico Hülkenberg:  “It was a fairly tough race for me. The start was ok, but coming into turn one someone (Gutierrez) hit me from behind. I lost a couple of positions trying to control the car and that put me a bit on the back foot. Getting through traffic in the opening stages was not very easy and it cost me a lot of time. Then, for the early part of the race, I was struggling with oversteer and in general I couldn’t find the same harmony with the car that I had in practice.

“Making the supersoft tyres last as long as I did – 31 laps – was not easy and by the end of the race I had very little left, but it was a risk I was happy to take to make our strategy work. The car had great potential all weekend long, but I feel I paid for the mistake I made yesterday in qualifying. However, I am pleased for the team’s result: it means we bring home a bunch of points which is a boost for our season.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: “What a fantastic result from a weekend where we looked strong from the start. It is a success for the whole team: from the crew that repaired Checo’s damaged car after FP3 and produced two brilliant stops at a crucial time, to the guys on the pit wall who made the right calls, and of course everyone back at base.

“We knew we had the pace to fight at the front, even if we were starting further back than we wanted, but we delivered the result in the end. Checo drove well and a second podium in three races shows that he is getting the potential out of the car. Nico was unlucky to be hit at the start by Gutierrez, which ultimately compromised his race. He lost a few positions, but was able to keep the car facing the right way.

“Starting in P12, he had a different strategy and he was only a couple of laps away from finishing seventh, but he still claimed some important points. Today’s result strengthens our fifth position in the championship and moves us closer to fourth . I have no doubt there will be celebrations tonight!”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 494 other followers

%d bloggers like this: