McLaren expect strong Hungaroring result (Hungarian Grand Prix preview)

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Another first-time winner - last year it was Kovalainen
Another first-time winner - last year it was Kovalainen

If the first half of the championship was about the domination of Brawn, the second half will be about whether Red Bull can catch them.

The Hungarian Grand Prix will be the perfect test of Red Bull’s improved RB5. The slow track and warm temperatures should favour the BGP 001, so if Red Bull can take points off their rivals here, we’re in for a closely-fought championship.

And that’s before we consider the other teams that could get in the mix this weekend.

The German Grand Prix didn’t resolve all of our questions about the balance of power between the championship-leading teams. Conditions were cool once again, playing into Red Bull’s hands and probably the reason why Brawn found themselves behind the likes of Ferrari.

But there’s no doubting Adrian Newey’s revised RB5, which arrived at Silverstone, has brilliantly married the double diffuser concept the team lacked at the start of the season, to its unconventional pullrod suspension. This has made Red Bull’s car potentially the quickest in F1 today, and the teams which have now said they are putting all their efforts into 2010 (Ferrari, McLaren) are likely to be taking their inspiration from it.

Big upgrade for Toro Rosso

Red Bull’s performance has been conspicuously at odds with sister team Toro Rosso’s. We will learn how much of that is down to the difference between teams, drivers, engines and technology this weekend – for two reasons.

The STR4s are due to get a substantialy update including many of the Silverstone-spec parts the RB5 had. And the team is dropping Sebastien Bourdais for persons-as-yet-unknown.

It’s not likely to be enough to allow Toro Rosso to take points off Brawn and help Red Bull’s championship situation. But expect changes to the pecking order in qualifying, and Sebastien Buemi and his new team mate to be chasing for points in the race. Force India’s days of making it into Q2 may be numbered.

McLaren’s best chance

Another of the great unresolved questions at the Nurburgring was how fast the updated McLaren is. Only Lewis Hamilton had the revised floor on his MP4/24, and that was damaged following contact with Mark Webber on the way to the first corner.

The slow Hungaroring already offered McLaren’s un-aerodynamic car one of its better chances of scoring this year (along with Monte-Carlo and Singapore). But having locked out row three of the grid in Germany on realistic fuel loads they may be hoping for even more this weekend with both cars brought up to the new specification.

Their hopes will rest partly on how useful KERS is at the Hungaroring. Despite Hermann Tilke’s revisions in 2003 there’s still only one realistic place for overtaking at the Hungarian circuit – the long run to turn one. A judicious prod of the KERS button on the way out of the final corner should make the McLarens (and Ferraris) un-passable outside of the pit stops. They will be as dangerous as ever off the start line as well.

And that could add up to a nightmare scenario for whichever of the Brawns or Red Bulls makes the worst start.

Ones to watch

Lewis Hamilton – Blew McLaren’s best chance of big points at Monte-Carlo with a crash in qualifying, and was unlucky to get eliminated at the Nurburgring as he was making a bid for lead. Can he even get on the podium?

Sebastian Vettel – Jenson Button’s closest championship rival, but beaten by his team mate in four of the last five races. Can he re-assert superiority over team mate Mark Webber?

Toro Rosso No. 11 – Jaime Alguersuari? Sebastien Loeb? Ari Vatanen? Who will turn up in the second Toro Rosso?

Who do you expect to be on form at the Hungaroring? Have your say below.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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30 comments on “McLaren expect strong Hungaroring result (Hungarian Grand Prix preview)”

  1. It’s not likely to be enough to allow Toro Rosso to take points off Brawn and help Red Bull’s championship situation.

    In no other sport I can think of would this be allowed. Something greatly bothers me about Toro Rosso being in the championship when so many new independant teams now wanted to get a 2010 entry.

    Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand the FIA(!), but manufacturers should not be running F1 for the reason above IMHO.

    1. Ok, Red Bull Racing is independent, but I hope you get my point that to give the teams more power is not always a good thing :)

  2. Ari Vatanen?

    Good one!

    1. LoL!! :)

  3. I think you forgot Alonso. He has been around half a second down in qualifying in Turkey and Silverstone. Last race Renault had an update that looked to give them a 2 or 3 tenths gain. In Q1 Alonso was between the 2 Red Bulls. He completely messed up Q2 of course, so it’s not evident how much he really could have done. Still, his race pace in the last stint showed he could do much.

    I really hope Hamilton and Alonso can get in on the action.

    Then Brawn should be bringing their big new update. Not sure if that’s still on, but they have been talking about it for some time. If that gives them a few tenths that should make it all quite close.

    BTW Alguersuari is announced to drive the STR.

    1. Yes, I think Alonso will be strong.
      I also hope Mclaren do well.
      Let´s have RAIN and an exciting race !

  4. PrisonerMonkeys
    20th July 2009, 10:07

    Alguersuari has been confirmed by Toro Rosso; it appeared on Autosport within the past two hours.

    It’s funny that this race – and the next one in Valencia – are going to be so critical to the championship when everyone thinks they’re such boring circuits. Maybe they’ll finally get a chance to shine. I espeically like the way the Hungaroring is so important when in seven years it has produced seven different winners.

    My predcition: Red Bull will sort themselves out quickly. Whoever is in front at the first pit stops will probably be the one who mounts the challenge against Button. Red Bull need to sort their drivers out, and quickly; the longer they take, the harder it will be for them to catch the Brawns. I’m banking on warmer weather here, so we’ll see just what the upgraded RB5 can do against the BGP-001.

  5. The Hungarian GP will be a spectacle! The Mc’s will be having both cars upgraded, the Bulls will be looking towards improving their points, Renault will be elaborating the cars new found speed, the Toro’s need to prove a point (after the hastles)and the Brawns sure won’t be having a laid-back race either! It will be thrilling!

  6. I’m hoping for a surprise to be honest. to have more than 2 teams in the second half of the season capable of a win should be rewarding for us.

    I hope the Brawns haven’t run out of steam, and that Ferrari and McLaren can Catch up… with Red Bull on the ball it should be fun to watch

  7. Aaron Shearer
    20th July 2009, 12:07

    And the team is dropping Sebastien Bourdais for persons-as-yet-unknown.

    Spelling mistake Keith?

    What about watching Fisichella, he seems to lack qualifying skill, but he always manages to get up there somewhere …

    Nice preview nevertheless, keep it up!

  8. I hope that hamilton finally gets a podium :)

  9. Mark my words: Hamilton will race on Sunday and maybe he’ll get a podium. Or maybe not.

  10. i hope mclaren will finally deliver. they’ve won 3 times in the last 4 years. but my week has been spoilt by the death of henry. i don’t feel like doing any thing. it could have happened to anybody, even to a formula 1 driver. from now onwards i’ll be campaigning for closed cockpits. the 2009 cars look very funny, i dont think these are are as safe as the 08 one’s. they look very brittle. keith this is extremely important. its high time we have closed cockpits. life is too precious to lose.

  11. We should expect Ferrari to trouble the front-runners as well, given how good they were at Monaco – keep an eye on Massa. It’ll be awesome if Hamilton qualifies in the mid-field again and makes a solid start and makes it stick.

    Qualifying will be very exciting indeed. Can’t wait.

  12. Keith,

    The KERS isn’t just useful to Ferrari and McLaren for keeping drivers behind. For one, because there are so many braking zones, the unit will be charged often. You’ve got two runs- the frontstretch into Turn 1, and the stretch from the exit of turn 2 into turn 5- in which the KERS will provide a useful power boost and help drivers gain time. This will be particularly useful in qualifying. I would not at all be surprised to see at least one McLaren or Ferrari driver qualify in the top-3, if not on the front row.

  13. i feel very funny when people go on criticizing kers. people must remember , its because of kers that we’ve seen some overtaking. by now its very clear that OWG was a complete failure. aerodynamics is a very funny field, just like chemistry lab. you mix 2 things & expect something, but you end up getting a totally different thing! well at least in my case it was true. i dunno how & where the OWG have gone wrong? i would really want to know where the exact problem lies. cuz the future formula 1 cars are to be based on this years cars i.e. wide front wing, small rear wing, no aero bits etc. i fear the worse, i adrian newey masters the new aero relugation, we could expect total dominance from red bull in the years to come. just like what he did at williams renault. now that will be bad for the sport.

    1. Other than the run down to turn one, we see very little, if any, overtaking because of KERS. Its much more common that KERS is used defensively to PREVENT overtaking. At least thats what I am seeing (webber and hamilton’s excellent battle in australia notwithstanding)…

    2. The OWG changes were not a complete failure. Quite the opposite. They completely achieved their objectives.

  14. Given the passing situation at Hungaroring, and the complete utility of KERS as a shield here, if I’m red or silver I send a car into Q3 on fumes. Can you imagine the mayhem if Kovlainen or Massa get to turn 1 first? Slow but unpassable car at the front = much hijinks. My strategy would be to bottle up the field, and allow the other car to unleash KERS on the enemy pursuers. Uphill straight, slow last corner, plus a tow, is going to make that extra 80 hp very handy. It’s going be like a NASCAR restrictor plate race.

    1. Doing Q3 on fumes doesn’t help the KERS cars though. If they do a short first stint they will be out of the way of the Red Bulls, Brawns, Alonso and Rosberg. These will then pull a gap and pass them.

      Last race shows that going heavy in Q3 is the way to go. Massa, Kovalainen and Raikkonen did a heavy Q3 and with KERS managed to get in front of the faster cars.

  15. StrFerrari4Ever
    20th July 2009, 16:52

    Oh i’ve been anticipating this race since I heard about the news of STR getting the Silverstone upgrade whether it will get them in Q3 is another matter but makes their chances better lets hope they can be in the top 6 even though other teams like the Manufacturers are continuously developing at an eye-opening rate. Brawn are due an update at this race I believe I hope it doesn’t mean they can get ahead of Red Bull as I want the Bull’s to close on Brawn and take the fight to them more but hopefully STR can just put a spanner in the works and hault one of the Brawns or even both of them.
    Alonso will be one to watch I believe at this track his always gone well and the R29 seems to be improving so he should be interesting , Mclaren will have a strong race if they can get ahead of Brawns in qualifying then we will be in for a cracking race believe you me!

    Oh and welcome aboard Jamie points on debut anyone? :D

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      21st July 2009, 21:03

      Has he actually driven an F1 car yet?

      1. I think he did a shakedown of the cars that were sent to Hungary.

  16. RBR was faster than Brawn in the slower sector-3 at Silverstone, granted in cool weather. And then they were again faster by as much as half a second at the Ring which is a fairly slow circuit. I think the Brawns will be much closer to RBR in Budapest, especacially w/ temperatures in the 30s (C), but I just think RBR is on such a roll now their drivers’ confidence is bery high, and in Budapest, in the worst case, their car will be as fast as the Brawn. I think this is Vettel’s race to lose.

  17. It’s true, this season may have a more interesting finale than it seemed a couiple of races ago if one or two of the Ferrari and McLaren drivers, and Alonso, can knick a podium place or two. Seeing Red Bull slowly catch up Brawn would have been fairly tedious, but there’s now a chance of a great drive from Alonso, Massa or Hamilton, say, skewering the chances of either Brawn or Red Bull. The same in qualifying.

  18. On Hungary we will learn whether Brawn are struggling or Red Bull had found out the horns to knock out Button.

  19. I would like to think Alonso would do well come the weekend, but I’m still not sold on the Renault’s speed, I would be if they can produce it again in Budapest.

    Mclaren has a good shot on Sunday, I think Kovi will bring it home in the points, as for Lewis, if he doesn’t throw it away, a podium is likely. It should be a close rung thing between the Brawns (if its hot) and the Red Bulls. It will be even tighter between Seb and Mark.

    It would have been nice to Seb Loeb in the Toro Rosso No. 11!!

  20. Delete Red Bull and insert Brawn (honeymoon period)

  21. Hi all,
    As the post says, this will be the most important GP of the year to understand how much Red Bulls have improved. It’s sure the Brawn will be fast again but, and Bulls too but.. Newey’s car is more aggressive on the supersoft compound. In Austalia, Monaco, Bahrain, they suffered the softer one. Nothing says us they have overcome the problem.. Hungaroring will do…

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