Hungarian Grand Prix: PreviewJuly 14, 2020
Following on from back-to-back events in Austria the Formula One World Championship is heading across the border to Hungary for the third round of the 2020 season.
The Hungaroring, located on the outside of Hungary’s capital Budapest, has been hosting Formula One events since 1986, when the purpose-built venue brought the championship under the Iron Curtain for the first time. It quickly emerged as a popular race venue, courtesy of its close proximity to the vibrant and historic Budapest, with its gothic architecture, social ruin bars, and verdant parks, where East meets West across the Danube River.
Located in a natural valley, the technical 4.381km Hungaroring circuit poses a challenge for teams and drivers alike, with 14 tricky turns, and little in the way of run-off. Overtaking is often at a premium at the Hungaroring, placing an extra importance on grid position, while the intensely hot Hungarian summers means the tires can be severely punished. Several medium and high-speed corners mean the drivers also face a test of their endurance, particularly at the end of a triple-header of races, only the second time in history that there has been three grands prix in as many weeks.
After back-to-back races in Austria the Haas F1 Team and drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are keen to assess its VF-20 at an entirely different race track, and continue building on the lessons that were learned across the past two weekends.
Grosjean has race-winning experience at the Hungaroring in junior categories and in his first full-time Formula One campaign in 2012 recorded a podium finish, classifying third. Magnussen registered a standout seventh in 2018, with Grosjean 10th, ensuring both Haas F1 Team racers brought home points. The Hungaroring was less kind the following year and thus Haas F1 Team is keen to make amends as Formula One brings its opening trio of races to a close.
The Hungarian Grand Prix will take place across July 17 to 19, with two 90-minute practice sessions on Friday, final practice and a three-part qualifying hour on Saturday, the results of which set the grid for Sunday’s 70-lap grand prix. Lights out is due for 15:10 local time (08:10 EST/13:10 GMT).
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
The team brought both cars home to the checkered flag at the Styrian Grand Prix after a disappointing double DNF the weekend before. What positives can you extract from Sunday’s race result and what, if any changes were made to deliver a stronger performance?
“Obviously the Austrian Grand Prix was a disappointment for us with having two cars not finishing. Coming back to the same place for the Styrian Grand Prix, this time we were able to finish and fight a little bit with our opponents – not in the right place, but at least it’s better than last year. We need to get better in order to fight for points. It’s a start and hopefully going forward we can get into that fight.”
Technical gremlins have impacted both Friday practice sessions this season with Grosjean losing an FP1 for the Austrian Grand Prix and Magnussen missing out on FP1 at the Styrian Grand Prix. How much of an impact does that have in terms of the overall weekend and what measures, if any, can be implemented to minimize the risk?
“After four months of not driving a Formula One car, it’s obviously not good not going out in FP1, but also missing a complete session – it’s a disappointment. We always try to do our best, I mean – for sure, we always try to evaluate what happened, but you can never exclude an issue. We just need to keep our heads down, try to do better every time, and try not to make any mistakes from our side.”
Have you had to re-evaluate the team’s goals or objectives for the season based on performances to-date?
“Not really because we didn’t have objectives when we started off as we didn’t know where we were. Now we roughly know where we are. Obviously, we’re not on the top of the mid-field, we’re in the second part, we just need to get better as we go along and get more out of the car. Hopefully some of the tracks coming, they’ll help us as they’re a little less power sensitive.”
Hungary represents the third and final leg of the opening triple-header to start the delayed 2020 season. Knowing there are at least two more triple-header stints to come on the calendar, what’s your take on the flow of back-to-back race weekends – where do the challenges lie, or is it a benefit to simply keep the momentum going and continue racing?
“Absolutely – keeping momentum going and go racing, that is what we need to do. I think everyone on the team is very motivated and very happy that we’re back racing. For sure by the third triple-header it’ll be a little bit old, and people will be tired, but at least in the next triple-header some of the team can go home in-between - that’s not been possible between the Austrian and Hungarian events. It’s very demanding on the guys, on everybody, but we were not doing a lot for four months at the beginning of the season. In the end though, I think we’re all happy to be here and go racing.”
Last week saw F1 announce two additional race dates, Mugello and Sochi. What’s your take on how the revised 2020 calendar is coming together and how are teams addressing the element of ‘the unknown’ as the final calendar is yet to be determined?
“It’s good to see more of the calendar come together but there’s still about two months missing I’d say. I think we’ll get the October calendar pretty soon. The unknown is not fantastic, but the picture is getting clearer and clearer. The biggest thing is financially we don’t know what we’re getting, and we don’t know what we’re going to spend. It’s all a little bit of a guess at the moment, but it is what it is. I think it’s very difficult for Formula One to get assurances from governments that races can be held going into the later part of the year – the pandemic is not over; it changes all the time. We’re just dealing with it on a day-to-day basis and hopefully we get all the details soon.”