The Hungarian Games

Starved in Silverstone, Haas F1 Team

Hungry for Hungarian Grand Prix

 

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (July 15, 2016) – 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 July 24 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-kilometer (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 tires.

 

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 tires. A high level of traction, a lot of braking and significant lateral energy demands push the tires to their limits, meaning tire 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 the 1989 Hungarian Grand Prix) and Jenson Button (14th to first in the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix) prove that despite the lack of overtaking opportunities, tenacity and tire 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 tires 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.

 

At Silverstone, Haas F1 Team had its best Friday to date with 671.574 kilometers (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 Team was left starving at Silverstone. Knowing the progress it made and the strength the team showed on Friday and Saturday at Silverstone, Haas F1 Team is hungry for its next point-paying opportunity, and it comes at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hungaroring
Circuit Length: 4.381 km (2.722 miles)

Laps: 70

Race Distance: 306.63 km (190.531 miles)

Broadcast: NBCSN – 7 a.m. ET (Pre-Race Show) / 8 a.m. ET (Lights Out)

About Haas F1 Team

Haas F1 Team debuted in the FIA Formula One World Championship in 2016, becoming the first American-led Formula One team since 1986. Founded by industrialist Gene Haas, Haas F1 Team is based in the United States on the same Kannapolis, North Carolina, campus as his championship-winning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, Stewart-Haas Racing. Haas is the founder of Haas Automation, the largest CNC machine tool builder in North America, and he is chairman of Haas F1 Team.

 

The practice and qualifying sessions leading into Silverstone went very smoothly for Haas F1 Team, giving everyone confidence of a good performance in the race. But between the downpour just before the beginning of the race affecting strategy and Grosjean’s retirement due to a broken transmission, the race was a letdown. How does the team shake off that kind of disappointment and move on to the next race?

“Everyone has bad days, and we had one at Silverstone. The team realized that and got past it so they could focus on what lies ahead. But we did have a good Friday and Saturday at Silverstone where we accomplished a lot, and as a new team, that helps. We’re going into Hungary as prepared and confident as we have to all of the other races this year.”

 

At Silverstone, Haas F1 Team achieved its highest FP1-FP2 mileage count to date – 671.574 kilometers (417.297 miles). Talk about the progress made to be able to reach that kind of milestone and how beneficial it was for the team’s qualifying preparation.

“With time and experience, we have been able to learn and get better in everything we do. If we have a problem, we are able to fix it quicker because of what we’ve learned at the past events. The performance that we had on Friday not only gave us the data we needed, but it also gave the team confidence. With more time, the more we can continue to improve.”

 

We go from Silverstone – one of the fastest and most flowing circuits in Formula One – to the Hungaroring, which is one of the slowest circuits and also very technical. Do drivers need a few laps to forget about what they felt in the car at Silverstone or are they able to just jump into the car and immediately get up to speed, despite the Hungaroring’s drastically different layout?

“I think it is difficult to adapt and see where the limits are after being at such a fast track, but then after a couple laps they remember the track and are able to adjust quickly. It does take a couple laps, though, for them to build their confidence and have a feel again for a certain track.”

 

The Hungarian Grand Prix marks the halfway point of the Formula One calendar. If someone told you last year that Haas F1 Team would have 28 points and be eighth in the constructor standings halfway through its debut season, would you have believed them?

“We probably wouldn’t have thought that we would have 28 points so far in our first season, but we still do wish that we were a little higher up in the standings. We are very close to the teams in front of us and hope that we can keep competing and moving up in the standings. I am very proud of us, though. We are doing well for our first season and the team has been working hard to be where we are.”

 

What would you like to achieve during the second half of the season?

“Moving up, of course, and getting more points. As long as the team is able to gain more experience and prepare for a better year next year, I am happy.”

 

The competition between the midfield teams is incredibly tight, and this is most noticeable in qualifying when teams are trying to advance from Q2 to Q3. How tight is the margin to advance to Q3, and how important is a good round of practice on Friday to having a good qualifying performance on Saturday?

“I would say it is brutal in the midfield, which is where we are in the standings. We just need to keep putting in a lot of work and making sure the cars are as prepared as possible, the tires are in the range they need to be, the drivers are hitting their marks perfectly, and that we go out on the racetrack at the right time. It ends up being a lot of ingredients that we have to get together, but I think getting to Q3 is achievable. We just need to work on all of the above points.”

 

During a race weekend, how much of each practice session is spent working on race setup and how much is spent working on a qualifying setup?

“We do a qualifying run and work on long runs in the same session, usually. We don’t try and dedicate one session to one in particular because the setup can change rather quickly. I would say our time is spent 50/50 in qualifying and race setup between FP1 and FP3. We may spend a little more time on the long runs where we’re tuning the car and changing the setup as needed, but in FP3 we usually do a qualifying run on a new set of tires to get the best gauge of what we need to do in a couple of hours when qualifying starts.”

 

With the Hungaroring being tight and technical, qualifying is important. But getting to the front can be achieved through tire strategy. Last year’s race was won by Sebastian Vettel on a two-stop strategy, while Daniel Ricciardo won in 2014 on a three-stop strategy as rain played a factor at the beginning of the race. If you’re not starting up front, what shapes your strategy to try and get to the front by the end of the race?

“Getting to the front has a lot to do with where you qualify. If you are in the top-10, you cannot choose what tire you start on, but if you’re outside of the top-10, you can choose your tires for the start of the race. The strategy is based on which tires the teams should use, and this information is gathered while we are in FP1 through FP3. Those sessions shape our strategy for the race on Sunday.”

 

How do you take advantage of local yellows, safety cars and other variables that disrupt your original strategy but perhaps provide new opportunities to gain positions?

“It gets heated when logistics have a downfall, like at Silverstone when we had the power go down on all our systems in the pit perch, or a safety car is used, which also happened at Silverstone. But the strategy is to try and prepare in advance for the chance that these types of things will happen. The main thing is how we react to a change in our strategy, and the change in the degradation of our tires and everyone else’s tires. It gets quite tense sometimes, but it’s also what makes racing challenging and fun, at least in my eyes. Having situations that aren’t expected gives teams the chance to get an edge on other teams. It’s a part of racing, and it makes it more interesting for the fans.”

 

Budapest is typically hot, and hot weather has seemed to help your cause in finding the proper working range of the tires. Is this the case, or do you feel that after the successful practice and qualifying sessions at Silverstone where the weather was relatively cool that you have a better handle on how the tires perform regardless of the weather?

“I do think we have a better handle on how the tires work in cooler weather. In my opinion, everybody is pretty close to understanding the tires. We are by no means perfect, but we are striving to be better, which we are doing well right now, and Silverstone was an example of that.”

 

 

The practice and qualifying sessions leading into Silverstone went very smoothly for Haas F1 Team, giving everyone confidence of a good performance in the race. But between the downpour just before the beginning of the race affecting strategy and your retirement due to a broken transmission, the race was a letdown. How do you shake off that kind of disappointment and move on to the next race?

“Well, qualifying was good. Before we had to retire, the pace wasn’t great in the race. I was struggling on the intermediate tire. That’s something we need to work on. We lost a lot of ground at the beginning of the race. On slicks, I’m sure things would have been better. Ultimately, that’s racing. It’s all part of the game. We’ve got two more races before the summer break, so we’ve got a chance to come back and do more in the next one.”

 

We go from Silverstone – one of the fastest and most flowing circuits in Formula One – to the Hungaroring, which is one of the slowest circuits and also very technical. Does it take a few laps to forget about what you felt in the car at Silverstone, or are you able to just jump into the car and immediately get up to speed, despite the Hungaroring’s drastically different layout?

“You do get back in the car and find the pace straight away. I’ve been competing in Formula One for a few seasons and I know all the circuits and all the characteristics of each layout. It’s not a big deal. I jump in the car and find my rhythm. From there, you can start a good weekend.”

 

In four career Formula One starts at the Hungaroring you’ve finished in the top-10 three times, with a best finish of third in your first race there in 2012. What makes it such a good track for you?

“It’s difficult to explain. I’ve always had a good feeling in Hungary. I’ve always liked the track. They’ve resurfaced it this year, so we’ll see how it goes. It used to be very bumpy. It’s a low-speed circuit. How the car handles is important. I’ve been lucky to have had cars that have performed well there over the years.”

 

You’re constantly turning the wheel at the Hungaroring, and with the slow speeds, very little air flows into the car. Combined with the normally high temperatures experienced in Budapest, how physically demanding is the Hungarian Grand Prix?

“It can get very hot in Budapest. It’s not an easy race, but on the other hand, there’s not many high-speed corners on the track, so it’s more about keeping your focus and concentration all through the race. Regardless, we’re always keeping fit to prepare ourselves.”

 

How difficult is it to overtake at the Hungaroring and where are the overtaking opportunities?

“It’s very difficult to overtake at the Hungaroring. To be fair, I made one of the best overtakes of my life there in 2013, outside of turn four, on Felipe Massa. I got a drive-through penalty for that one for having four wheels off the track. That didn’t matter to me as it was one of my most beautiful overtaking moves ever.”

 

A lot of grip, a lot of braking and a lot of high-energy demands all conspire against tires at the Hungaroring.  How do you manage the tires and get the most out of them?

“It’s going to be our number one priority to get the tire to work for us and analyze the degradation, which can be high on some compounds. If we get the grip, we’ll get the lap time. Then we can do more pit stops and have more fun.”

 

What is your favorite part of the Hungaroring?

“I like sector two, the flowing section of the track, which is quite nice.”

 

Describe a lap around the Hungaroring.

“Straight line to start before big braking into the first hairpin. Turn two is a very tricky corner – a long left-hand side corner going downhill. It’s important to stay on the left from the exit for the throttle application to turn three. You want to be flat, and then high-speed turn four. Turn five is very bumpy – a long right-hand side corner, then you get to the chicane. After that there are some flowing corners which are really cool. Then you get to the last three corners. You need to brake big into the 90-degree, right-hand side turn, then the last two turns are the key. You finish with a long left corner, and then a very long right turn, where you really want to get going to get the lap done.”

 

 

 

The practice and qualifying sessions leading into Silverstone went very smoothly for Haas F1 Team, giving everyone confidence of a good performance in the race. But with the downpour just before the beginning of the race affecting strategy, the race was a letdown. How do you shake off that kind of disappointment and move on to the next race?

“We are optimistic that we are making good progress and having more consistency, and this has been shown in the good qualifying sessions and through the weekend showing consistent, good pace. Unfortunately, during the race there was 10 degrees less in track temperature, which affected the tire performance and is a point that we need to improve. It was definitely not the race we expected, but we have to keep our optimism very high for the following two races, especially for Budapest.”

 

We go from Silverstone – one of the fastest and most flowing circuits in Formula One – to the Hungaroring, which is one of the slowest circuits and also very technical. Does it take a few laps to forget about what you felt in the car at Silverstone, or are you able to just jump into the car and immediately get up to speed, despite the Hungaroring’s drastically different layout?

“You get used to it. Budapest is a track where the temperatures are usually very hot and the main characteristic of the tire is that they get overheated very easily. But I know the car and I am confident in driving the car, so with any kind of conditions or track characteristics you just get used to it very quickly.”

 

The Hungaroring seems akin to a full-size karting track. You began your career in karting. Is that an apt analogy?

“The Hungaroring for me is a special track. It’s the first track I tested in Europe back at the end of 2007 when I tested Formula BMW, so it brings me great memories every time I come back there. I have achieved great results, so mainly from that point of view, I’m happy to be back. It is a slow track, but it has also quick corners and a very interesting layout.”

 

You’re constantly turning the wheel at the Hungaroring, and with the slow speeds, very little air flows into the car. Combined with the normally high temperatures experienced in Budapest, how physically demanding is the Hungarian Grand Prix?

“It’s quite physically demanding because of the fact you have not many chances to have a pause from the driving. You have to be focused all the time because all the corners make it very demanding – mentally and physically. But I like that challenge. It’s a nice track and I really look forward to the experience.”

 

How difficult is it to overtake at the Hungaroring and where are the overtaking opportunities?

“I would say turn one is the best opportunity. You come down from the long straight and you have the DRS on, so yeah, it’s approaching turn one. Also the exit of turn one approaching turn two. Those are the two main overtaking opportunities.”

 

A lot of grip, a lot of braking and a lot of high-energy demands all conspire against tires at the Hungaroring.  How do you manage the tires and get the most out of them?

“That’s a characteristic of the Hungaroring. The tires degrade very quickly, so it’s even more important in qualifying to be spot on the first lap and get the maximum out of the new tires. You don’t have a second chance on this track to put a good lap time on the tires.”

 

What is your favorite part of the Hungaroring?

“I would say the last corner, which I enjoy a lot, and sector two where you have the chicane and a good series of corners, which makes it very interesting. You cannot miss one apex because if you miss one apex, all of the following corners are affected and quite long. There is also a very nice, fast corner – turn 11. I love it.”

 

Describe a lap around the Hungaroring.

“You come down full speed into turn one, the biggest braking of all the circuits. The exit of turn one is a hairpin, and you come down to turn two, which is a very long corner – downhill off-banking – so it’s pretty challenging on entry. You exit to go down to turn three, preparing the line from turn two and more straight down to turn five, which is a high-speed corner to the left. Taking a lot of the curb and the apex makes it very nice. Then turn six – a long corner to the right, a little bit of uphill, which then approaches turn seven and eight, which is a very interesting chicane. It’s very slow, but interesting because you can use all the curb on the apex and exit. You come out of that corner with the tires overheated and approaching the next sequence of corners which is eight, nine and 10. It becomes very challenging because you need to keep the temperature on the tires low and you’re trying to make the corners in the best way, sometimes sliding the car, pushing on the limit. You approach turn 11, which is a high-speed corner. You enter into the corner with a little bit of trickiness coming from the high temperatures of the tires. The exit of turn 11 there is a bit more straight. You come down to turn 12, which is a 90-degree corner, and usually you can use the curb to maximize the track. Then you come down to turn 13, a very long corner and uphill before approaching the last corner, which is one of my favorite ones.”

 

 

 

Hungaroring

  • Total number of race laps: 70
  • Complete race distance: 306.630 kilometers (190.531 miles)
  • Pit lane speed limit: 80 kph (50 mph)
  • This 4.381-kilometer (2.722-mile), 14-turn circuit has hosted Formula One since 1986, with last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix serving as the venue’s 30th grand prix.
  • Michael Schumacher holds the race lap record at the Hungaroring (1:19.071) set in 2004 with Scuderia Ferrari.
  • Rubens Barrichello holds the qualifying lap record at the Hungaroring (1:18.436), set in 2004 with Scuderia Ferrari during Q1.
  • With an average speed of just 190 kph (118 mph), the Hungaroring is the slowest permanent circuit on the Formula One calendar. The track has 14 corners and few straights, which puts increased emphasis on downforce and mechanical grip. Likened to Monaco or a full-sized karting circuit, the Hungaroring offers few overtaking opportunities, meaning qualifying is of utmost importance. But if not at the front, drivers can attempt to emulate Jensen Button’s performance in the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix where he drove from 14th to first. In today’s era, that kind of tenacity needs to be aided by tire strategy, for it is a key cog in a driver’s upward climb. Tire management is a crucial part of that strategy as the Hungaroring is incredibly tough on tires. Typically hot weather combined with a high amount of traction, braking and lateral energy demands work the tires and the driver hard. However, these forces are all relatively equal, meaning a neutral setup is required. An extreme level of fitness is required for the drivers, who are seemingly always turning the wheel amid high temperatures with scant amounts of air flowing through the car.
  • DYK? During construction of the Hungaroring in 1985, a spring was discovered just after turn three. Engineers were forced to add a chicane, diverting the track’s layout around the spring. The first three Hungarian Grands Prix were run on this configuration before engineers developed a culvert for the stream in 1989, allowing a direct route between turns three and four.
  • During the course of the Hungarian Grand Prix, lows will range from 18-20 degrees Celsius (65-68 degrees Fahrenheit) to highs of 29-33 degrees Celsius (84-91 degrees Fahrenheit). Relative humidity ranges from 45 percent (comfortable) to 90 percent (very humid), with a dew point varying from 11 degrees Celsius/51 degrees Fahrenheit (very comfortable) to 16 degrees Celsius/61 degrees Fahrenheit (comfortable). The dew point is rarely below 6 degrees Celsius/43 degrees Fahrenheit (dry) or above 20 degrees Celsius/68 degrees Fahrenheit (muggy). Typical wind speeds vary from 0-24 kph/0-15 mph (calm to moderate breeze), rarely exceeding 39 kph/24 mph (strong breeze).
  • Pirelli is bringing three tire compounds to Hungary:
    • P Zero White medium – less grip, less wear (used for long-race stints)
      • Theoretically, this is the most balanced of Pirelli’s Formula One tires, with an ideal compromise between performance and durability. It is an extremely versatile tire, but works best on circuits with high speeds, high temperatures and high energy loadings. It is a high working-range compound.
    • P Zero Yellow soft – more grip, medium wear (used for shorter-race stints and initial portion of qualifying)
      • This is one of the most frequently used tires in Pirelli’s range, as it strikes a balance between performance and durability, with the accent on performance. It is still geared toward speed rather than long distances, but it remains capable of providing teams with a competitive advantage at the beginning of the race where cars are carrying a full fuel load and at the end of the race where the fuel load is much lighter and the race effectively becomes a sprint. It is a high working-range compound.
    • P Zero Red supersoft – highest amount of grip, highest amount of wear (used for qualifying and select race situations)
      • This is the second softest tire in Pirelli’s range, and it is ideal for tight and twisting circuits, especially in cold weather when maximum grip is needed. The supersofts warm up rapidly, which has made it a stalwart choice for qualifying. But with increased grip comes increased degradation. It is a low working-range compound.
  • Two of the three available compounds must be used during the race. Teams are able to decide when they want to run which compound, adding an element of strategy to the race. A driver can also use all three sets of Pirelli tires in the race, if they so desire. (If there are wet track conditions, the Cinturato Blue full wet tire and the Cinturato Green intermediate tire will be made available.)
  • Pirelli provides each driver 13 sets of dry tires for the race weekend. Of those 13 sets, drivers and their teams can choose the specifications of 10 of those sets from the three compounds Pirelli selected. The remaining three sets are defined by Pirelli – two mandatory tire specifications for the race (one set of P Zero White mediums and one set of P Zero Yellow softs) and one mandatory specification for Q3 (one set of P Zero Red supersofts). Haas F1 Team’s drivers have selected the following amounts:
    • Grosjean: one set of P Zero White mediums, four sets of P Zero Yellow softs and eight sets of P Zero Red supersofts
    • Gutiérrez: two sets of P Zero White mediums, three sets of P Zero Yellow softs and eight sets of P Zero Red supersofts