Hungarian Grand Prix notebook – Thursday

By on

After the crazy and thrilling German Grand Prix Formula One is back in action this weekend. The last race weekend before the summer break started with one of the fans’ favourite programme, the pit lane visit.’s Balázs Szabó reports from the scene.

It was scorching hot! As teams and drivers were busy at preparing for the Hungarian Grand Prix, the weather was really hot outside. As always, Thursday was dedicated to preparation including assembling the team’s, FOM’s, FIA’s hospitality units and building up the Fan Zone. For the fans, however, there was another programme, the pit lane visit. In Hungary, it has become one of the favourite activities for fans over the years. Many of them usually turn up hours before it actually kicks off to secure a good place for the crowded pit lane.

Preparation in short – Mercedes was the first team to finish its preparation for the Friday practice sessions, covering its cars with a black blanket very early on in the evening. While the reigning champions have already finished its work, Red Bull and Ferrari were busy with practicing the pit stops. The energy drink company-owned team which recorded the fastest pit stop time with 1.88 seconds at the German Grand Prix was completing their practice stops at a much slower speed as they only wanted to make sure that there is no problem with attaching the wheels.

Road safety – The first press conference of the weekend was a special one dedicated to local journalists. Hungarian minister for innovation and technology László Palkovics announced that Hungary joined the United Nations Road Safety Fund which was established in April 2018. The initiative is to step up against the traffic accident and aims to eliminate deaths linked to road accidents in Europe by 2050. Worldwide, more than one million people die on the roads annually and both the FIA and the United Nations are keen to make inroads in that area. Hungary has joined the United Nations road safety scheme and will offer education in safe road-use to countries that are less developed in this respect, for instance in Africa.

Trophies – During a conference held in the afternoon, the organisers presented the special Herend porcelain trophies that the podium finishers will receive after the 34th Hungarian Grand Prix. The Herend Porcelain Manufactory first produced Formula 1 prizes in 2006, and even though the top three did not receive a porcelain piece each and every year, the participants of the race greatly appreciate the trophy. Sebastian Vettel even mentioned in 2015 that following his first Hungarian triumph, he only got a “plain” cup. Hungaroring management instantly took action and gifted the four time world champion of Ferrari with a Herend piece. It took almost three months to manufacture this year’s trophies and they are worth around EUR 30 000.

No pace on the drying track – Asked about Mercedes struggles in the closing stages of last weekend’s German Grand Prix during a press conference at Mercedes’ motorhome, Valtteri Bottas blamed the drying track. According to the Finn, Mercedes’ racing car, the W10 did not have the right stability when the track was drying out. The rear end of the car was particularly loose, leading to oversteery behaviour in the high-speed sections of the track. That caused his own and his team-mate’s Lewis Hamilton spin at the quick first corner.

On a high again – Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff is sure that his team could get over its recent flop in Germany. The Austrian was proud of the way his outfit managed to handle the defeat. "On Sunday, we were united in our pain; on Monday, we were united in our determination to turn our weaknesses into strengths. We had a number of very open discussions about what went wrong and what steps we need to take to improve,” he said.

Confident – Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are both confident that they can keep their race seats for 2020. During the FIA press conference, the Frenchman acknowledged that “was more worried last year than this year” given the mistakes he made last year. However, he “recovered pretty well” for this season which makes him confident that Haas will retain him. His team-mate Magnussen only added that he is “not worried at all.”

More competitive – Lance Stroll sees it as an improvement of the sport that the entire field – apart from the three leading one – is much closer together than they were before. “ When I look at this year in comparison to a couple of years ago, it’s definitely become much more competitive, the sport – which is a good thing. I think, hopefully, in the near future, we can start seeing that from first place onwards where we can be battling between teams every event,” he said.

High degradation – In last weekend’s rainy German Grand Prix, Formula One drivers could trial Pirelli’s 2019 wet-weather tyres for the first time. Interestingly, this year, there has been no session with a damp track. Reflecting on the first part of the Hockenheim race in Ferrari’s motorhome, Sebastian Vettel admitted that he did not feel comfortable on the wet surface as he did not have the right amount of grip. An even bigger issue was that Ferrari’s SF90 overstressed the intermediate tyres and according to Vettel only Mercedes was able to be gentle on this compound.