Hungarian Grand Prix: PreviewJuly 27, 2021
A look ahead to the final race before Formula 1's summer break, as we head to Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Formula 1 is poised for its final event before a summer holiday with Budapest, and the Hungarian Grand Prix, the destination for Uralkali Haas F1 Team.
In the 1980s Formula 1 ventured to new territories and Budapest was regarded as an ideal destination, with Europe’s western and eastern frontiers connecting across the sprawling Danube River. Hungary’s capital city straddles the iconic waterway, with the hilly and historic Buda on the west and the more modern vibrant Pest on the east.
On the outskirts of the capital lies the Hungaroring, a tight and twisty venue constructed in a natural bowl, and which has been a mainstay on the Formula 1 calendar since 1986. Only Italy’s Autodromo Nazionale Monza has a longer unbroken streak on the championship’s schedule.
Strong mechanical grip and high levels of downforce are favored at the circuit while tire wear can also be critical owing to the hot summer temperatures that can strike the region in the height of summer. With overtaking challenging at the relatively tight and twisty venue qualifying position, and race strategy, is of the utmost importance.
After the Sprint trial in Britain Formula 1 will return to its more traditional format in Hungary, with three practice sessions, and qualifying reverting to Saturday afternoon, ahead of Sunday’s grand prix.
Uralkali Haas F1 Team drivers Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher have both previously savored success at the Hungaroring. Mazepin stormed to the GP3 Series win in 2018 while Schumacher scored his maiden FIA Formula 2 victory from pole position at the venue in 2019, both events taking place in conjunction with Formula 1 grands prix.
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal Uralkali Haas F1 Team
Looking back at the British Grand Prix it was a weekend packed with action and atmosphere. Having had some time to digest things like Friday Qualifying and the Saturday Sprint – let alone a much talked about Sunday race, was it a good weekend for Formula 1 and how do you feel the season in general is stacking up to this point?
“The weekend was very good for Formula 1. We did sprint qualifying which was new so there was a lot of excitement about that, a lot of spectators back at the race track and a very interesting race in general. It’s just unfortunate that we can’t take part in the race at the moment but we will get there. Very successful and a very promising rest of season for Formula 1 in general.”
The team participated in the Pirelli tire test immediately following the British Grand Prix. How valuable to the team, and in particular to the drivers, are such test days – bearing in mind the team had to prepare a separate car in order to participate and run the larger prototype 2022 tires? Is the payoff worth the extra work and expenditure to a smaller team such as Haas?
“With reduced testing, it’s very important. It’s a big change in general next year and we need to get our own understanding and data. The drivers need to get a taste of the new tires, get a feeling and give us feedback of what they think. In general, even making a hybrid car, which is a converted 2019 car, obviously doesn’t come for free but it’s worthwhile to do it. We are a serious team and this is a part of it to get prepared for the future. As we all know, we’re working very hard on 2022 to get us back to where we were - we need to do this - and it’s worth every bit of effort to get there. For the drivers to get a feel, and for the team to get some data, it’s very valuable information.”
There’s much talk of 2021 being a learning year for your rookie drivers but can you share your observations on what in particular each driver had learned or developed over the course of the season to-date?
“Both of them have realised how intense and difficult a sport Formula 1 is when you get there. It doesn’t compare with anything else in racing and that’s why it’s the pinnacle of motorsport. That’s the personal side. On the driving side, you learn that you’re racing with the best people in the world. I think they’re making good progress but I’m sure there is more to come from them.”
The Hungarian Grand Prix is the final race before the mandatory summer shutdown for Formula 1. Just how important is that break to team personnel, both traveling team and factory-based staff, and with an ever-increasing Formula 1 calendar – do you fear that such a break could disappear in order to meet demand for events?
“It's very important for the team to have some time off, especially during COVID times where there are a lot of triple-headers, and also rest before we go into the second half of the season which will be as tough, if not tougher. It’s very important that they can see they still have time at home with their families, even if at the moment they are pretty tired. I’m sure they all plan to take some time off and recharge batteries. The summer break is important and at the moment there is no talk about getting rid of this in the future, even if there are more events coming. I think once COVID is over, the planning for Formula 1 will be – not necessarily easier – but a lot more predictable. At the moment, it is unpredictable what is happening in each country therefore we’re having quite a tough schedule. I’m sure we will get organised and make it possible to have a big calendar and still have the summer break.”
As a Team Principal – what does the summer break allow you to do personally? Do you truly get an opportunity for some rest and relaxation, or are you constantly looking at the bigger picture regarding the team, the remainder of the season and beyond etc. Is it impossible to switch off?
“It's impossible to switch off but you can use the time when you are not under pressure with the day-to-day things to think about the bigger picture. I think that is always a good time because when you’re not doing anything, it just gives you the opportunity to focus on the things that don’t need an immediate answer and to be a little bit creative and create a vision for the future of the team and for personal life. It’s always good to have some time off but the biggest thing is there is little day-to-day work to do so you can use this time to be creative. I hope to have a few days with my family, relax a little bit, and come back here recharged.”