After a somewhat disappointing German GP that initially showed much promise, McLaren is looking to confirm the improved pace. Both drivers will have the updated package at their disposal at a circuit that should suit their MP4-24.
Lewis Hamilton: “The Hungaroring is one of the most demanding circuits for drivers because you’re busy throughout the entire lap. It’s a bit like a kart circuit – there are lots of twists and turns and the only place to relax is along the start/finish straight, which is quite short. It’s also quite low-grip which makes overtaking particularly tricky. But I really enjoy the place – I won here in 2007 and was on pole last year. It’s a circuit that really rewards consistent, precise driving – push too hard and you tend to lose rather than gain time. Given the potential we showed in Germany last weekend, I’m hopeful of getting a result that demonstrates the improvement we’ve made over the past few weeks.”
Heikki Kovalainen: “Obviously, I won in Hungary in 2008 so it will be nice to come back to Budapest again. This race is likely to be won or lost in qualifying: you’ve got to be at the front and run an aggressive first stint if you are to succeed in the race. The track is also quite hard on tyres so you need to find a balance that will allow you to look after your rubber until the finish – the softer rubber, in particular, tends to suffer at the end of the race so you have to be careful. I’m really looking to running the team’s new upgrade package this weekend. I had a strong weekend at the Nurburgring and I didn’t let a single car past me in the race – with the improved car I’m really hopeful of getting another strong result at the Hungaroring.”
Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “While Lewis demonstrated during practice and qualifying at the Nurburgring that our upgrade package appears to provide us with a sizeable step forward in performance, it was frustrating that damage to the rear bodywork left us unable to fully ascertain that benefit in the race itself. For Budapest, both Lewis and Heikki will be equipped with the new package and we are hopeful that it will enable us to mount a more sustained attack towards the front of the field. The Hungaroring is a circuit where we as a team have enjoyed many successes in the past and we travel there this weekend hoping to provide concrete evidence that we’re decisively turning our fortunes around for the remainder of the season.”
Norbert Haug, Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport: “The Grand Prix circuit just outside Budapest is, after Monaco, the one with the lowest average speed. The layout, consisting of more slower corners, where mechanical grip is especially important, should suit us quite well – as demonstrated already in Monaco. However, I currently would consider our technical performance still not good enough to repeat last year’s victory with Heikki – but in any case we at least have been in the lead for a few metres at the Nürburgring - until Lewis’s right-rear tyre was hit which caused a deflated tyre, damaging the underfloor – which prevented Lewis later from achieving good lap times. Everybody in the team is giving it their all to continue the upward trend with both cars.”