Formula 1 races are a bit like London buses these days. You wait ages for one to come along, and then three turn up at once. After two fun-filled, and successful, weeks in the foothills of the Styrian Alps we’re travelling about 250 miles east for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
But we couldn’t let you head into the third grand prix in as many weeks, without bringing you right up to speed with our latest, must-read race preview. Once again, we’ve got the thoughts of drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris, as well as Production Director Piers Thynne. There’s also our guide on what to keep an eye out for this weekend, plus the details of our latest epic competition, and much more.
How to follow
|When||17 - 19 July|
|Start time||15:10 local, 14:10 BST, 15:10 CEST, 09:10 EDT|
|Follow||TEAMStream and the McLaren App for exclusive commentary and insight|
What they say
“After a Styrian GP of mixed feelings, with a great Saturday and a very frustrating race on Sunday, I've spent a couple more days in Austria training and recharging batteries before the last grand prix of this first triple-header. I head to Hungary with the confidence of knowing that, despite the last race result, we’re all working in the right direction at McLaren and I feel positive after a promising start to the season.”
“The Hungaroring, however, poses a different challenge to what we’ve faced for the past two weeks in Austria, so we must be prepared. I had a great race there last season finishing P5 and, as always, I'm looking to build on that and keep improving.”
“The past two races in Austria have been amazing for us and I can’t wait to go racing again in Hungary. After two weeks at the same circuit we need to reset and work hard to continue building on these solid results. This track has more slower speed corners and is much tighter than in Austria. It should give us a new benchmark on the performance of the car. I’ve driven on this track a few times throughout my career, including at my first-ever F1 test back in 2017, so I've got good memories. I’m hoping that experience will help me to hit the ground running on Friday.
“We know we can’t get ahead of ourselves only two races into the season. It's been a great start but now we need to try and maintain our momentum and fight for the best possible points.”
“It’s always a challenge going into a triple-header, even more so early in the season with what is essentially a brand-new car. The production team back at the MTC has done an excellent job in ensuring we have all the parts we need for the three-week period while maintaining high build quality.
“Over the two weekends in Austria we have been able to contain issues and maintain good reliability, but we can never let our guard down. It’s a testament to the hard work put in by the team to achieve this level of reliability, as well as the excellent driving of Lando and Carlos to minimise the strain on spare parts.
“As the team head to Hungary, we find ourselves in a good position to push again. The Hungaroring brings a set of different challenges compared to those found in Austria, but we’ll be prepared. Due to the high downforce levels needed at the tight, twisty and relatively slow-speed track in Hungary, we expect to trim the car very differently compared to the fast and flowing circuit in Austria, and this race will also give us a new test of reliability.
“Looking beyond the Hungarian GP, our attention turns to the next triple-header as we head to both grands prix at Silverstone and Barcelona. As always, we’re looking to improve the car at every opportunity, and our focus will start to shift further towards car updates and away from our provision of spares. The compressed nature of this season will require teams to delicately balance resources between car upgrades and spare parts, but it’s an exciting challenge and one we’re ready to take on.”
What the stats say
McLaren’s first Hungarian Grand Prix win came in 1988 with Ayrton Senna behind the wheel, and a further 10 victories for the team at the Hungaroring followed: Ayrton bagged two more, Mika Häkkinen was victorious in 1999 and 2000, Lewis Hamilton contributed another four, while Jenson Button and Heikki Kovalainen both tasted victory with us here. It all adds up to McLaren being the most successful constructor in the race’s history.
When it comes to Carlos and Lando, they acquitted themselves well here last year, locking out the fourth row of the grid in qualifying and going on to secure a double-points finish, finishing fifth and ninth respectively.
It’s a circuit both drivers know well and have performed consistently at. Carlos has finished in the points here for the past four years and will be hoping to extend that run to five this weekend. Meanwhile, Lando has scored podiums in F2 and F3, and racked up plenty of miles testing for the team here in 2017 and 2018.
What to watch out for
Dubbed ‘Monaco without the walls’, the Hungaroring is a very different proposition to the fast, flowing Red Bull Ring which teams have become accustomed to in recent weeks. It’s tight, twisty and very technical, so it demands precision, plenty of downforce, a strong chassis, excellent traction, loads of mechanical grip, and good drivability of the power unit. And thanks to the support of our engine supplier, Renault, the latter is something we used to great effect when qualifying in the wet last Saturday.
The corners come thick and fast around the uncompromising Hungaroring, especially in the second sector. The circuit affords drivers little opportunity to catch their breath and overtaking is far from easy either. The latter is not lost on McLaren F1 Head of Strategy and Sporting Randy Singh: “The main strategic factor for the Hungaroring is the difficulty in overtaking.
“Typically, it’s also a one-stop race. It isn’t always a one-stop race though and, at this moment in time, I wouldn’t want to say with much certainty that it will be a one-stopper this year. The difficulty in overtaking makes it quite similar to Monaco in some ways, in that you really prioritise qualifying and track position.
“At the Red Bull Ring, you’re willing to add a stop and stop under Safety Cars because you can use the pace that you gain from newer tyres to make positions up. At the Hungaroring, those kinds of things are very difficult to do because you don’t make it back through the field as easily.”
While battling through the field is far from certain at the Hungaroring, the circuit is undoubtedly a real test of man and machine. It will be fascinating to see if the competitive order changes a little this weekend, as the very different track layout may suit some cars more than others. We’ve yet to visit a circuit like this so far this season, so it’s tricky to predict which cars are best suited, but if you cast your mind back to pre-season testing – yes, we know it was ages ago – the tight and twisty final sector at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya usually provides a few clues.
“The track characteristics are very different to the Red Bull Ring,” adds Randy. “We don’t know what the pace of the cars will be here. The midfield is very tight, so small differences can lead to large positional swings. So, I think that’s something to bear in mind, that teams may line up in a different order to last week, although the general order shouldn’t change drastically – it’s hard to say at this moment in time!”
What to wear
Modelled by, well, everyone in the team, fans have been clamouring for the #WeRaceAsOne U-Mask. This social distancing wardrobe essential helps you stay safe in style and all the profits go to charities supporting those most affected by covid-19. Oh, and because this is a #WeRaceAsOne product, you get 15% off any F1 merchandise you order at the same time.
The F1 2020 game dropped last week and, in case you haven’t already played it, it’s epic – like Lando passing three cars in the final two laps of the Styrian Grand Prix epic. The guys and girls at Codemasters have worked their magic yet again with this latest instalment, so we thought we’d give away five copies of what could be well be the greatest F1 game of all time. And if that wasn’t exciting enough, we’re throwing in a signed Lando cap for good measure!
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