Advantage Alonso as summer break looms

2012 Hungarian Grand Prix preview

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 length 4.381km (2.722 miles)
Distance 70 laps (306.6km/190.5 miles)
Lap record* 1’19.071 (Michael Schumacher, 2004)
Fastest lap 1’18.436 (Rubens Barrichello, 2004)
Tyres Medium 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.

McLaren

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.

Ferrari

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?

Mercedes

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.

Lotus

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.

Sauber

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.

Williams

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

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.

HRT

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.

Marussia

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 avg R avg R best R worst Classified Form guide
Sebastian Vettel 4.7 4.56 1 11 9/10 Form guide
Mark Webber 6.3 4.8 1 11 10/10 Form guide
Jenson Button 7.6 9.6 1 18 10/10 Form guide
Lewis Hamilton 5.7 6.44 1 19 9/10 Form guide
Fernando Alonso 6.1 3.6 1 9 10/10 Form guide
Felipe Massa 11.4 11.11 4 16 9/10 Form guide
Michael Schumacher 7.2 7.4 3 10 5/10 Form guide
Nico Rosberg 7.1 7.7 1 15 10/10 Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen 8.7 5.8 2 14 10/10 Form guide
Romain Grosjean 7.2 6.5 2 18 6/10 Form guide
Paul di Resta 11.7 9.44 6 14 9/10 Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg 11.6 10.22 5 15 9/10 Form guide
Kamui Kobayashi 11.2 8.29 4 13 7/10 Form guide
Sergio Perez 13.7 7.63 2 11 8/10 Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo 13.2 13 9 17 9/10 Form guide
Jean-Eric Vergne 16.9 12.89 8 16 9/10 Form guide
Pastor Maldonado 11.5 12.13 1 19 8/10 Form guide
Bruno Senna 14.3 12.67 6 22 9/10 Form guide
Heikki Kovalainen 18.1 17.22 13 23 9/10 Form guide
Vitaly Petrov 18.6 16.43 13 19 7/10 Form guide
Pedro de la Rosa 21.33 19.86 17 21 7/9 Form guide
Narain Karthikeyan 23.11 20.29 15 23 7/9 Form guide
Timo Glock 20.78 17.63 14 22 8/9 Form guide
Charles Pic 21.4 18.43 15 20 7/10 Form guide

Are you going to the Hungarian Grand Prix?

If you’re heading to the Hungaroring for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you.

We’ve got a dedicated group and forum for people going to the race.

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2012 Hungarian Grand Prix

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

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64 comments on Advantage Alonso as summer break looms

  1. Great work as always Keith. Cheers!

  2. Kimi4WDC said on 25th July 2012, 23:47

    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.

  3. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 25th July 2012, 23:57

    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.

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

  5. Atticus (@atticus-2) said on 26th July 2012, 0:01

    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:
    http://koponyeg.hu/ – This is the main page with the daily maxs and mins.
    http://koponyeg.hu/statoldalak.php?oldal=radar – I think this is more interesting and relevant as it shows a live radar refreshing in 15 min intervals.

    I hope I could help.

  6. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 26th July 2012, 8:55

    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?

  7. tmekt (@tmekt) said on 26th July 2012, 9:01

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

  8. sumedh said on 26th July 2012, 10:28

    Maldonado for race-win!!

  9. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 26th July 2012, 10:40

    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!

  10. vjanik said on 26th July 2012, 10:57

    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.

  11. F1Rollout (@f1rollout) said on 26th July 2012, 11:59

    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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