Advantage Alonso as summer break looms

2012 Hungarian Grand Prix preview

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Start, Hungaroring, 2010Whatever happens at the Hungaroring this weekend, we already know one thing for certain: Fernando Alonso will be leading the drivers’ championship as the teams head into the five-week break before the next race at Spa-Francorchamps.

The Hungarian Grand Prix brings to a close the second phase of the season which began after the test at Mugello. Since then Ferrari’s upgrades have allowed Alonso to challenge for victory at every race.

In that space of time the top teams have been very close on performance but Alonso has outstripped his rivals, scoring 111 points to next-best Mark Webber’s 72.

Sebastian Vettel may lament the 32-point swing to Alonso which came with his retirement while dominating in Valencia, but even without that Alonso would still be 12 points ahead.

But there’s still half the season to go and 250 points to be won. Alonso’s rivals need to keep as many of them out of the Ferrari driver’s hands in this last race before the summer break.

Hungaroring circuit information

Lap length4.381km (2.722 miles)
Distance70 laps (306.6km/190.5 miles)
Lap record*1’19.071 (Michael Schumacher, 2004)
Fastest lap1’18.436 (Rubens Barrichello, 2004)
TyresMedium and Soft

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Hungaroring track data in full

The Hungaroring is holding its 27th round of the world championship and its tenth on this particular track configuration.

The extension of the start/finish straight and tightening of the first corner has gone some way towards make overtaking easier, but this remains a tough track to make up places on. That makes Saturday’s qualifying session one of the most important of the year.

The circuit does not get much use during the rest of the year, so the track surface is usually dusty at the start of the weekend and tends to develop little grip. This year Pirelli are pairing their soft compound with the medium rubber, unlike last year when the chose their two softest tyres.

Temperatures are usually high this time of year but the early weather forecasts paint a slightly volatile picture with the chance of some storms over the weekend. We’ll take a more detailed look at the likely conditions tomorrow before the action starts on Friday.

Red Bull

Red Bull head into the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend in the expectation that the controversial engine maps they were found using in Germany will be banned.

Their rival teams are unsure how much of a setback this will be for them. But as the maps were designed to help send gasses from the exhaust into the diffuser to increase its performance, it will penalise them at a circuit like this where sheer downforce counts above all else.

But don’t expect it to seriously compromise their competitiveness. Vettel has been on pole position here for the last two years in a row and will surely be in contention once again.


The extensive changes made to the MP4-27 at Hockenheim came not a moment too soon, as they seemed to be on the verge of losing touch with Red Bull and Ferrari. Jenson Button’s battling drive to second showed both he and the team are back on form.

The team have an excellent record in Hungary, winning four of the last five races here. Two of those wins were taken by Lewis Hamilton, who will be eager to bounce back from his misfortune last weekend.


Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Silverstone, 2012While Alonso continues to impress, fresh attention has fallen on Felipe Massa’s meagre contribution to Ferrari’s championship effort so far. He scored less than 15% of Alonso’s tally in the first half of the season.

If ever a track owed a driver a favour, it is surely the Hungaroring to Massa. Not only was he badly injured here in 2009, he was robbed of a likely win the year before when his engine died three laps from home while leading.

That came after a brilliant move on the first lap when he took the lead off Hamilton at the outside of turn one. Will we ever see that Massa again?


The last two races featured Michael Schumacher qualifying well but dropping back in the race, while his team mate qualified less well.

Nico Rosberg reckons the track should suit their car but he said the same thing about the Hockenheimring where they finished as sixth-best team.


Kimi Raikkonen’s season is developing into one of dependable points-scoring which could yet come very good for him if Lotus can find the qualifying pace to match their race performance, particularly in hot conditions.

The team are expected to continue testing their innovative new DRS set-up but are unlikely to race it.

Force India

Hockenheim highlighted Force India’s midfield struggle: despite starting with both cars ahead of the Saubers they fell behind them by the end of the race.

However Nico Hulkenberg’s ninth place moved them closer to passing Williams for seventh in the constructors’ championship.


Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Hockenheim, 2012Fourth and sixth in Germany was Sauber’s best two-car finish since becoming an independent team again.

Sergio Perez has not started higher than 15th in the last five Grands Prix. He made it into the points at three of those, but a better qualifying effort at this tight track is essential.

Toro Rosso

Daniel Ricciardo has comfortably had the upper hand in qualifying over Jean-Eric Vergne thus far. Vergne has tended to come back at him in the races, but it will be harder to pull that trick off at the Hungaroring.


Germany was Williams’ fourth point-less weekend of the year as both drivers suffered from damage during the race.

The FW34 was weak in slower corners at the beginning of the season but Pastor Maldonado’s pace in Valencia indicated they’ve addressed that shortcoming, and the team should be in the hunt for points again.


Caterham still believe there’s more performance to come from their Silverstone upgrade.

But although Heikki Kovalainen “nailed every apex and had a clean lap” in qualifying at Hockenheim, he was 0.9s slower than Jean-Eric Vergne, which suggests their latest developments have not brought them on terms with the established teams just yet.


Narain Karthikeyan, HRT, Hockenheim, 2012Dani Clos will have another outing for HRT during practice. For Narain Karthikeyan this will mark his first appearance at the track since 2005, as he’d been replaced by Daniel Ricciardo by this time last year.


Timo Glock scored his first podium at the Hungaroring in 2008, and retains an affection for the track which he describes as “like a second home race”.

“For some reason I always seem to come to terms with the track very quickly and I?ve always enjoyed good races because of that,” he added.

2012 driver form

Q avgR avgR bestR worstClassifiedForm guide
Sebastian Vettel4.74.561119/10Form guide
Mark Webber6.34.811110/10Form guide
Jenson Button7.69.611810/10Form guide
Lewis Hamilton5.76.441199/10Form guide
Fernando Alonso6.13.61910/10Form guide
Felipe Massa11.411.114169/10Form guide
Michael Schumacher7.27.43105/10Form guide
Nico Rosberg7.17.711510/10Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen8.75.821410/10Form guide
Romain Grosjean7.26.52186/10Form guide
Paul di Resta11.79.446149/10Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg11.610.225159/10Form guide
Kamui Kobayashi11.28.294137/10Form guide
Sergio Perez13.77.632118/10Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo13.2139179/10Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne16.912.898169/10Form guide
Pastor Maldonado11.512.131198/10Form guide
Bruno Senna14.312.676229/10Form guide
Heikki Kovalainen18.117.2213239/10Form guide
Vitaly Petrov18.616.4313197/10Form guide
Pedro de la Rosa21.3319.8617217/9Form guide
Narain Karthikeyan23.1120.2915237/9Form guide
Timo Glock20.7817.6314228/9Form guide
Charles Pic21.418.4315207/10Form guide

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2012 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Images ?? Red Bull/Getty images, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Sauber F1 Team, HRT

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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64 comments on “Advantage Alonso as summer break looms”

  1. Woot! A new Grand Prix already! I love back to back races!

    1. then there’s summer break…oh no!

      1. yeah, that always sucks, well we can manage to invent something to do in those 5 weeks, hey it’s the summer break there’s plenty to do above the equator.

  2. I think this is again track for Red Bull. even temperature is usually very high so it’s suit to them. I’m not sure Mclaren is consistently fast so it remains to be seen. Ferrari should not be the fastest here as far as I concern. Mercedes wouldn’t be considers as top 4 here instead Lotus would be. Another Valencia-like weekend? I just hope Vettel would not 0.5 sec faster than anyone…

    1. I don’t agree. I think the restrictions of the Red Bulls’ engine mapping could hurt them badly.

      I expect McLaren to be more or less clearly on top. They had arguably the quickest car in terms of race pace at the Hockenheimring and more updates could further increase their advantage. I predict Hamilton for the pole.

      I think Ferrari – or more so only Alonso – could be the best positioned though: they don’t have to worry about the quicker McLaren as of yet and Alonso could pull off another podium ahead of the mapping-restricted Red Bulls.

      I agree though that we should keep an eye on Lotus. They could well be in contention on Sunday, if their Valencia-pace is anything to go by.

      1. @atticus-2, it seems Red Bull changed their engine mapping only after Silverstone, where they won, and their Valencia dominance was also achieved without it. I would be surprised if we do not see at least one Red Bull on the front row.

        1. Yes, that’s true.

          The engine map restriction cutting their performance back will have more emphasis on Silverstone-like tracks, such as Spa or Suzuka.

          So yes, based on their performance in Valencia (with the previous engine mapping), they could be in contention for the pole indeed. Especially that Saturday has the least percentage of a possible shower out of the three days.

          And in any case, temps will be high even on Sunday, so the track could dry up very quickly after some rainfall, which is predicted.

          Thanks for the remark. :)

  3. Although Red Bull are the form team here, this is surely a track where Alonso will expect another good result – he won his first race here in 2003, produced probably the best opening laps of a Grand Prix ever in 2006 and was robbed of a win, took ‘pole’ in 2007 before his unnecessary pit lane incident and took a very unlikely pole in 2009 with the dog of an R29, following on with strong podiums here in 2010 and 2011. It’d be wrong to rule him out of contending for victory here, even with the form of the Red Bulls and the recent dry weather pace of the McLaren.

    As ever though, Lotus and Sauber could be the flies in the ointment. Two very strong cars with good drivers who haven’t quite managed to string everything together yet. If they can get up the front on Saturday, then the race could take very different shape to what we’ve seen recently.

    1. His pole in 2009 came with just 16 laps of fuel, mind!

        1. Oops. I meant 13, sorry @alfie

  4. With regards to the constructor’s championship — are the final placings in the championship paid by points scored or by their placement in the standings? The mid field teams are obviously scoring a lot more but I wonder if it helps their finances or if they are just racing for their placement and the money for fifth in the constructors is worth the same at the end of the year no matter how many points they score.

    1. It depends on standings.

  5. @eggry.Well Hungary is a high downforce track where traction and ability to change direction will be crucial.Ferrari were quick in silverstone (high Df) so were Rb.Macca will be quick too.So expect an evenly matched race with the fastest car with better tyre degradation.

    1. even though Silverstone and Hungaroring require good downforce but it’s not the same. Silverstone is high speed circuit while Hungaroring is slow-mid speed circuit. It’s more about traction which Ferrari is now much better but not the best. Every car has different characteristics on different corner speed. Hungaroring is quite similar to Monaco or Valencia.

      1. …two circuits at which the Red Bulls won or would’ve won at, and scored poles at.

        1. Yup, for sure they’re the favorite.

      2. @eggry it’s not really about traction, because the’re “flowing” corners. Sector 2’s corners are more about carrying as much speed as you can, and positioning for the next corner.

        There are only really 4 key traction zones here – The last two turns and the first two turns. Turn 7 is traction-limited on exit too, but it’s not severe because you’re only on full throttle for a bit before you have to brake for Turn 8.

      3. Before I forget – Valencia is more similar to Hockenheim. Valencia, despite being a street circuit, has fast straights, and the corners are very stop-start, making traction a key element. Both not really a feature in Hungaroring

  6. Alonso’s race finish average is just mindblowing. He likes this track, so it’s going to be a difficult one for the rest of the guys to seriously outscore him.

    1. @fer-no65 That’s the worrying thing for everyone else! Though I wonder if misfortune will pay Alonso a visit soon.

      1. @andrewtanner one can only pray for something bad to happen to his car during the race. Or at least during qualifying, to make the race much more interesting!

        1. Rain always mixes things up….

        2. Knowing Bernie – maybe a suicidal bird will fly into Alonso’s airbox?

        3. Well to be fair his car was awful in the first 4 races and he qualified 11th in Valencia due to bad luck.

          1. How was he unlucky?

          2. Were it not for bad strategy in Q2 he would have got into Q3 and had a shot at much higher grid position.

          3. @brum55 I’d call that a mistake rather than misfortune.

          4. he was unlucky, because ferrari was very confident to pass the q2 with medium compounds, and they lose 10 min in q2 (trying medium tyres) when all the other teams make their chance with soft tyres…they decide to put then the soft tyres and make only one shot…both Alonso and Massa were in top ten…but all the others driver makes their second chance with soft tyres and beat ferrari’s times…we all know that the second run is better than the first in exact tyres…driver more confident in breaking point, engineers make setup change…etc. the pace that Ferrari shows in race demonstrate that their qualifying result was unreal…and after the race S.Domenicali, P.Fry admitted that they make an error in qualifying and were too confident…I think formula 1 fan shold be very atentive to details adn look carefully… So it was a team error but the drivers were unlucky, both ferrari’s had the pace in valencia to be in top 5 in quali…

      2. NOOOOOOOOO!!!

  7. “Chance of some storms over the weekend”? Surely not a third wet qualifying in a row?! (and probably Alonso on pole too) but I wouldn’t mind at all – it’s great drama, and keeps all the tyre strategy on race day, where it belongs.

    1. looking to some early weather forecasts, it looks like we’re going to have a dry and very hot qualifying but heavy rain on race day – so probably a red bull on pole but on race day probably alonso.

      1. @black … if its going to rain on race day, then probably MS can win his first race this season because in wet merc is certainly faster .

      2. RBR is certainly stronger in rain as seen last weekend. I doubt an earlier engine mapping reference will stop RBR because they are that stupid not to have a back up plan.

        1. *not that stupid* (correction please)

    2. Daniel Brown (@scuderiaferrarifanatic)
      26th July 2012, 19:53

      A Schumi win? That makes me very excited indeed. :) I hope (but not predict..) its MSC, ALO, then a mid fielder or something, with RBR and McLaren (strategically for ALO’s title chances) as far back as possible.

  8. What has to look ominous to the other teams is Alonso record for this circuit:
    Ret, 1, 3, 11, Ret, 4, 4, Ret, 2, 3. That is a total of 4 podiums out of 10 starts and if we omit the retirements, Alonso has an average finishing position of 4th. Considering the excellent reliability of Ferrari in recent years, it looks like Fernando is well on his way to another clutch of points and at this point, that is all he really needs to stay up front when you consider that the race winners have been so varied this season.

    1. also for latest 5 yeas Alonso’s car was never better than this year except 2007 which made some noise and self-destruction. so I safely assume he would finish higher than 5th. but I’m not sure he would win. Certainly F2012 is not the fastest and I don’t think there would be another wet session or failure from front runners.

      1. So true. I reckon we will see Alonso consolidate his lead even more as it looks more and more likely that Red Bull will be facing a major shake up.

      2. Oh it seems there’s big chance of heavy rain on Sunday…it’s interesting.

        1. I did see that, and if we can use Ferrari’s form in the wet in Germany, this does not bode well for the competition.

  9. Stormy Hungaro, this might be interesting.

  10. People saying it could rain IF it did rain surely it would soften the blow if fernando, or lewis hamiton or someone with hopes of winning the race eg when button won in 06, but if it didn’t rain I think the red bull will be the team to beat in dry hot conditions, lotus could be a surprise their car likes the hotter temps, mclaren normally do well at hungary and i felt their upgrades took them a step closer and alonso will always be there fighting it out for a race victory. Alonso has to finish ahead of webber a good result for him would be 1 ham/but 2 alo 3 vet/web, if its a wet race he has a good chance having taken pole at germany and silverstone and having won in malaysia the ferrari looks quick in wet race conditions.

    1. Soften the blow of a poor qualifying.

  11. Kimi, Hamilton, Vettel, Webber or Button may win the next race if not Alonso wins again. Advantage of Alonso is, he is always around the top step while others are coming and going.
    Unless one of the rival teams come with a dominant car for the 2nd half of the season, it will be very hard for their drivers to catch Alonso.

    1. Only both Redbull drivers are with a chance of catching Alonso, especially now that the Ferrarii is a much faster and reliable car.
      Mclaren as a team don’t know what they want. So far they have been more interested in the post race interviews than mounting a competitive challenge.
      For Lotus to have a chance, they will need RBR and Mclaren to be faster than Alonso, with either Grosjean or Kimi winning a good number of races.
      Mercedes at the moment just flatter to deceive.

  12. If there is rain in Q3 or during the race Alonso has a great chance, Schumi 2nd, Massa 3rd (can dream). Otherwise Vettel or Hamilton will win from pole probably with Alonso 3rd at best.

  13. I expect a Hamilton-Button McLaren 1-2. The upgrades looked seriously impressive in Germany and Hamilton has a great record around here.

  14. I don’t know why, but the Hungaroring is a favourite of mine… I really like this little circuit. In fact I prefer to watch Hungary than Monaco (I am serious…) !
    The bad part is that it is associated with summer break. But then come Monza and Spa, yeeeesss !

    If I had to predict, I’d say the McLarens shouldn’t be too bad… I am desperately hoping for a Nice Lotus result too !
    My dream podium would be GRO, BUT, KOB, in any order…

  15. The last thing I think we need is more rain, it’s plagued the last two race weekends whether it’s during FP or qualifying, I want the weather to be a replica of the great weather we’ve been embracing in the UK recently to really see a better indication of who is where.

  16. Great work as always Keith. Cheers!

  17. I hope Kimi, Lewis, Grosjean!

    But I think Red Bull will be very fast here, most likely to start from front row. This is not going to be a good weekend for Ferrari if weather stays dry.

  18. Well, on paper you can’t really see a race that’s perhaps more suited to RBR’s philosophy of high downforce design. It’s just so difficult to predict though, the past two qualifying sessions have been a bit of a mixed bag (albeit with Alonso topping them both) and we’re yet to see the full extent of the McLaren upgrade. It looks genuine, especially considering that both drivers were significantly faster towards the end of the race.

  19. Ferrari is very very very strong in down force….

  20. The thing is that I live in Budapest, some 20km of the track, and my trusted local weather forecast just changed to indicate heavy rain in the area on Sunday afternoon. It does not say exactly when.

    It should remain sunny throughout Friday and Saturday – a reverse of Silverstone and particularly Hockenheim.

    Here are the links, if @keithcollantine or others are interested: – This is the main page with the daily maxs and mins. – I think this is more interesting and relevant as it shows a live radar refreshing in 15 min intervals.

    I hope I could help.

  21. I always look forward to the Hungarian Grand Prix. I know the circuit has a bad reputation for being a nasty little glorified karting track where overtaking is impossible, but statistically, it’s circuit that is most likely to produce an unusual result. There have been nine different winners in the past twelve years, and nobody has won it two years running since Mika Hakkinen won in 1999 and 2000. So I think the Hungaroring is a very underrated circuit and does not deserve its reputation. I think that if any race is going to produce an unusual result, it will be this weekend. A Sauber-Lotus podium, anyone?

    1. I agree with everything you’ve just said.

  22. Rosberg will be on pole (I had a dream about the qualification a few nights back)

  23. Maldonado for race-win!!

  24. I hope Sauber can improve their qualifying pace – some of their races have been podium-worthy but they’ve started too far back in the first place! I want to see Kobayashi fighting tooth and nail like he does but for a top spot!

  25. The Mercedes double DRS will help them a lot in qualifying. they will be able to run a lot of wing and have great downforce through the corners (and there are a lot on this track) The fact that its very hard to overtake here means that if they qualify well, they can maintain their position despite having a high downforce setup.

    And i wouldn’t rule out Lotus using their own version in the race.

  26. I think we will see a very close fight between the top 4 teams here. for pole and win. May be the closest.

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