Hungarian GP - Ferrari - Preview
Budapest has changed a great deal since the first time Formula One visited in 1986, when it provided an exotic taste of life behind the Iron Curtain.
Ferrari has won five times in those 22 years and two of those victories stand out:
in 1989, Nigel Mansell won from twelfth on the grid, which defied the odds on a track known for the difficulty of passing another car and in 1998, Michael Schumacher
won with an unusual three-stop strategy. The German was the last Ferrari driver to win at the Hungaroring in 2004.
Back in the present day, Ferrari comes to Budapest after two less than perfect race weekends, especially the last Grand Prix where the team was not competitive enough to fight for victory.
Since Hockenheim, the team has carried out an extensive in-depth investigation, both at home in Maranello and during the four day test at Jerez de la Frontera, into what was behind this lacklustre showing.
Data analysis was the main item on the agenda behind the factory walls and there was daily communication between the factory and the Spanish race track, to exchange views.
A great deal of effort went into this analysis, as the team carried out comparisons between set-up options, as well as mechanical and aerodynamic parts that have been developed over the past six weeks or so.
The fact that ambient and track temperatures at Jerez were very high and the abrasive nature of the track surface certainly did not make this analysis a straightforward task. However, by running the comparison tests in consistent conditions in terms of temperature and wind - especially with Raikkonen on Thursday - a meaningful analysis was possible.
The conclusion of those investigations is that in Hockenheim, it was not the car itself that had something wrong with it, in that the package was not worse than the previous one: the major difference was tyre related and for a variety of reasons, Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were unable to get the best out of the tyres during Sunday's race, even if there had been little sign of this difficulty over the previous two days of practice and qualifying.
Luca Badoer is today carrying out a shakedown at Fiorano of the cars that will be used in Budapest. For the first time on a race weekend, the F2008 will be fitted with, amongst other new components, the 'shark fin' engine cover, after Massa felt in Jerez that it brought some benefits.
The team will travel to Hungary with its usual determination to aim for the win, with the added incentive that it's always good to go into the "summer break" on the back of a great result.
"We're heading for the Hungarian GP and we've got the possibility to make up for the disappointment at Hockenheim, where our performance wasn't up to our expectations. We suffered a lot during that weekend, but now, after the four days of testing at Jerez - where I was on the track on the last day - I think we understand the problems we had in Germany, although I don't want to get into detail. Let's say that I'm quite confident that we'll have a very different performance of the F2008 in the next races. Obviously the German GP was really disappointing, but at least we managed to gain some points, which is very important for the Championship, while things at the top remain open. It would be better to be ahead than four points behind, but I'm sure that the next races will go well for us."
"At Jerez we also worked on some improvements of the car. That means that we worked on finding out what had gone wrong in Germany, but took also a step ahead. We worked a lot on the set up, also for races like the one in Singapore, where there will be lower temperatures, because it's a night race. We left Jerez with lots of data, which will help us on the short and on the long term."
"Just like the track at Monte Carlo, also the Hungaroring needs a maximum of aerodynamic downforce, while we're using the Bridgestone soft and supersoft tyres: with this configuration things went well at the Monaco GP, where we were very competitive. This is another reason to be confident. Although I prefer fast tracks, I like the one in Budapest: I've never reached the podium, but I was always really strong."Kimi Raikkonen
"The race at Hockenheim was the most difficult moment of the season. I was really frustrated and disappointed that I couldn't find the right balance of the car, but now we're in a much better position. We had a productive test at Jerez, especially on the second day. The Team has done some great work in the development of the F2008 and I'm confident for Hungary. It's true that McLaren has improved a lot over the last two races, but we also know that the situation can change in the blink of an eye."
"I've won once in Hungary and I came in second twice. Two years ago I took the Pole, but due to the rain the race was very chaotic and starting from the front didn't help. This is one of those circuits where overtaking is really difficult, so a good Qualifying on Saturday can be decisive."
"It's still early to make any forecasts for the Championship, considering that the first three drivers are only seven points apart: the positions can change in a single race. It's useless to cry over spilled milk: we are looking ahead, with eight races to go and at the end we'll do the maths. We just passed the half-way point of the season, so it's important to always gain points. Excluding Hockenheim I was always in a position to win and I hope success will come soon."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal
"We have come from behind before and in fact, we have emerged as the top team at the end of the season, having been in much greater difficulty than we are now. If we look at where Ferrari was in 2007 after ten races, today we are in a much better position and this year, there is one more race than last, which gives us even more opportunities to fight back."