McLaren ready for high downforce challenge


The Formula One teams are heading to the Hungaroring for the eleventh round of the season, the Hungarian Grand Prix. The tricky, low speed circuit, located outside the country’s capital Budapest, has been one of the more fruitful hunting grounds for McLaren over the past few seasons.

Lewis Hamilton drove superbly at the Nürburgring last weekend after fending off Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber for the victory. He’s now eager to keep the momentum going and get behind the wheel of his car again. “After my win at the Nürburgring on Sunday, the Hungarian Grand Prix can’t come soon enough,” said Lewis. “The team performed brilliantly last weekend and I want to maintain that momentum at the Hungaroring.

“It’s going to be a completely different challenge. The weather conditions will be much hotter than they were at the ’Ring and the nature of the circuit will be very different too. The Hungaroring is a tight and twisty racetrack, not dissimilar to Monaco in terms of downforce levels, and it offers no let up for the drivers. We’re always working behind the wheel, so it’s very physical.

“I’ve always gone well in Hungary. I like the circuit because it’s old school. It has a very historic feel to it, with hills and bumps and cambers changes, and it has massive character.

“There wasn’t much between McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull in Germany. It’s going to be fascinating to see which team holds the advantage next weekend.”

Jenson Button is looking to get back on track after his race ended early last weekend. The Hungaroring holds great memories for Jenson because he took his debut win there. Next weekend’s race also marks his 200th Formula 1 career start.

“It's always fun coming back to Hungary as this is the track at which I won my first grand prix, in 2006, and I’ll be celebrating another milestone on Sunday because this is my 200th grand prix,” said Jenson. “I can’t believe I’ve already knocked up a double-ton of F1 starts because I don’t feel a day older than when I made my debut back in 2000!

“Budapest is a beautiful city and the track is a good challenge. It’s one of the stops on the calendar that the drivers look forward to.

“After a premature end to my race at the Nurburgring, I’ll be hoping for better luck at the Hungaroring. The MP4-26 was very competitive in Monaco a couple of months ago and I hope it will be a similar situation this weekend because the Hungaroring has many of the same performance criteria.

“The hot weather conditions make this one of the most gruelling races of the year for the drivers. Cockpit temperatures regularly exceed 50 degrees and we’re always pulling g-force in the car because there are so many corners. It’s tough, but this is definitely a circuit when all the training pays dividends.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh highlighted the need to keep looking forward between back-to-back races and is keen to see the team continue adding to its tally of wins at the circuit, which is larger than any other team’s.

“Everyone in the team thoroughly enjoyed Lewis’s win at the Nürburgring on Sunday, but our attention has already turned to this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix,” said Martin. “Back-to-back races don’t afford you the luxury of looking backwards, only forwards!

“The Hungaroring is the slowest permanent circuit on the F1 calendar and it’s a great technical challenge. The cars run with maximum downforce and they have to be able to absorb the bumps and high kerbs that abound at the track.

“McLaren has won at the circuit nine times, which is more than any other team, and we’ll be looking to add to that tally on Sunday.

“Lewis proved at the Nürburgring that he’s at the top of his game at the moment. He was perfect in qualifying and perfect again in the race, and when he’s in that kind of form he’s very difficult to beat.

“As for Jenson, he’s had some bad luck in the last couple of races. But he’s mentally tough and he knows that the tide will turn. He’s driven beautifully this year and it’s up to us to give him a car worthy of his talents.

“We’ll be celebrating a couple of milestones this weekend. First, this is Jenson’s 200th grand prix. Longevity is to be commended in F1 because this isn’t a charitable business. Second, this will be the 100th race of Mercedes’ 2.4-litre V8 engine, which we’ve used since the inception of these regulations in 2006.”