Williams ready for hot Hungary

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After a successful race weekend at the German Nürburgring two weeks ago, the Williams Formula One team travels to Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The team hopes to maintain the momentum and to score big points at Hungaroring.

Hungaroring in a nutshell

A permanent racetrack but almost as labyrinthine as Monaco. For that reason, a strong qualifying performance is essential. Overtaking has been eased since 2003, when the main straight was extended and the first corner re-profiled, but only slightly (not least because it is incredibly dusty off the racing line). Modern convention makes this a two-stop race like most others.

Talking technical

Car dynamics:
Average turn angle indicates the average angle of a circuit’s corners expressed in degrees. The higher the average turn angle, the more acute the corners in the circuit’s configuration and the greater propensity for understeer to compromise lap time. Average turn angle at the Hungaroring is 1260 which is significantly higher than the average for the Championship. The circuit therefore is more penalising on an understeer balance than the majority of circuits on the calendar.

The end of straight (EOS) speed at the Hungaroring was 297kp/h in 2008. The Hungarian track ranks as having the 3rd lowest EOS speed on the 2009 calendar, and this is one indicator of the wing level typically selected to optimise the downforce/drag ratio. Meanwhile, the Hungaroring has the 3rd lowest average lap speed of any of the tracks on the calendar.

Pitlane & refuelling strategy:
The pitlane length and profile contribute to the determination of the optimum fuel strategy. The pitlane loss at the Hungaroring is approximately 20.5 seconds, the 9th most penalising pitlane in the Championship. To complete a normalised distance of 5km around the Hungaroring requires 2.48kg of fuel against an average of 2.42kg per 5km across all circuits this season, ranking the circuit as the 6th most demanding in terms of fuel consumption.

Safety car:
Another key contributor to the determination of race strategy is the likelihood of safety car deployments, which are influenced by weather considerations, the availability of clear run-off areas that allow racing to continue while recovery takes place and the circuit profile, especially the character of the entry and exit into turn one at the start of the race. There has been one safety car deployments in the last 8 races at the Hungaroring, making it relatively unlikely that there will be a safety car period.

Temperature, pressure & humidity:
As an example, it is a long observed tradition that drivers arriving at Interlagos complain about a lack of grip and an absence of engine power. Having become acquainted with a baseline of engine and aerodynamic performance during the season, the climb to 750 metres above sea level for one of the final races can, courtesy of the reduction in air density, rob a Formula One car of engine power, aerodynamic performance and cooling. The losses can come close to double digit percentages and thus have a very real impact on car performance. Air density is a factor of the prevailing ambient temperature, which varies most significantly by season, air pressure which is closely linked to altitude and, to a much smaller degree, by humidity. Thus if races are run at the same time each year, the factor that tends to have the greatest bearing on air density is elevation. The Hungaroring is 220m above sea level and has the 4th lowest average pressure (980mbar) of any race venue in the 2009 Championship. As a consequence, the circuit’s ambient characteristics will result in a noticeable reduction in engine power.

What the drivers say

Reflections on the German Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg: “We came home from Germany with another strong result with the fourth place. It was a bit of a difficult weekend before that though as we struggled with tyre temperatures as it was really quite cold at the Nürburgring. Still, it all came together for us in the end and I'm really happy as I made up a lot of places from my 15th grid position. It’s good to see the team making steady progress with the car and I hope it continues, as it would be great to get on that podium soon.”

Kazuki Nakajima: “It was a little bit disappointing and an unlucky weekend for me. The weather in qualifying was especially tricky. We showed though that the car is quite competitive though and we have enough speed to score points, so hopefully it will happen for us in Hungary.”

What we’ve been up to between races

Kazuki “I’ve been keeping to my normal routine of visiting the factory to use the simulator and then lots of training since I came home from Germany. I was also on duty again at the weekend for the team’s second trip to Moscow. Nico went last year and I know now why he loved it so much! To drive a Formula One car alongside such iconic landmarks like the Kremlin and Red Square was amazing and an experience I will never forget!”

Nico “The break between the races has gone back to the usual two weeks which is good as I prefer the rhythm. During that time, I've been to Sardinia with friends. It was a fantastic trip and they introduced me to sailing, which was a really nice new experience.”

The Hungaroring – from a technical perspective

Nico “The Hungaroring is a completely different type of track to the Nürburgring. It’s quite slow and twisty, and is a maximum downforce circuit which should suit our car. It will definitely be hotter over there than it was in Germany so we can look forward to a bit of an easier weekend when it comes to set-up as we'll be able to get the tyres up to temperature. Traditionally, Williams has always gone well round Budapest and I hope that will be the case this year and we continue our strong form.”

Kazuki “The Hungaroring is probably one of my favourites tracks on the calendar. It’s going to be a tough race because of the temperatures in Hungary at this time of year, and just because of the nature of the circuit. It’s a very slow track, a little bit like Monaco in that the corners are all slow and medium speed. Overtaking will therefore be difficult because there aren’t many long straights, so qualifying will be really important. I think we will be competitive there.”

Budapest: love it or hate it?

Nico “Budapest is a great city. It’s filled with cool bars and restaurants, not that I can go out much, but its really vibrant and so one of the more enjoyable places we visit in the year.”

Kazuki “I know Budapest is a beautiful city but I’ve never really explored it as I haven’t ever had the time. I hope that this year I will have some time to look around, or go out in the evening to a restaurant for a good local meal. It’s always nice when we go to such interesting cities like Budapest, it just makes the weekend more exciting.”