Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham
2011 Qualifying – 19th, 2011 Race – DNF
“I had my first Formula One win in 2008 in Hungary so it’s always good to come back to the Hungaroring. It’s fair to say I have some pretty good memories from here and I always have great support from the Finnish fans in Hungary. There’s always a lot of Finns in the crowd as I think it’s a bit easier for them to get to Hungary, and whenever there’s Finnish fans around there’s always a great atmosphere!
“Technically the circuit is quite tricky as it is a mix of fast and slow corners and even though the cars run with maximum downforce you have to get the setup right for the quick and the slow stuff. The first sector is mostly about straight lines and outright speed but then you get into Sector 2 where it starts to get tight and twisty.
The car is generally set up for those corners and if you have a good flow through there you can usually gain some time in that sector and improve on your lap time, if you set yourself and the car up correctly. You need to have good balance over the kerbs so that you can attack them, build up a good rhythm, and maintain your speed over the whole lap.
“The track also evolves a lot throughout the weekend. It usually starts off in quite a slippery state, but by the time we reach qualifying the grip levels can be pretty decent, assuming the weather has remained hot and dry. You just have to keep the evolution in mind during the first practice session and if the balance isn’t quite right you shouldn’t worry too much or dramatically change the set-up of the car – when the circuit starts to rubber in the car will improve. The rear of the car starts to become more stable and the track always improves as the weekend progresses.”
Vitaly Petrov, Caterham
2011 Qualifying – 12th, 2011 Race – 12th
“I have very good memories of Hungary and am really looking forward to getting back to Budapest. In 2010 I out-qualified my team mate Robert Kubica there and I finished fifth in the race, plus it’s the country where I won my first race in Formula 3000.
“It’s a challenging circuit for a few reasons. First, it’s pretty physical as it’s usually very hot, and second it’s a very technical track with tight sections so you need the right setup for each session on track. Physically, despite the heat, it isn’t too bad although you need some serious concentration behind the wheel for all 70 laps of the race!
“Hungary will be the last race before our summer break in August and we all need a good break. Before we go on vacation it’ll be important to stop, analyse and discuss how the season is going with the guys so we can make adjustments for the remaining races. But then it’ll be time to switch off our own engines for two or three weeks, before coming back for training with recharged batteries for the next half of the season.”
Mark Smith, Caterham technical director
“The Hungaroring is an interesting challenge for the engineers as it is a low-efficiency circuit, like Monaco or Singapore, so we run high downforce levels across the whole car and that requires a specific approach to setup to give the driver maximum grip around the whole lap.
“Hungary is what we call a lateral circuit, which means it is most demanding in cornering, but having good traction is also important as there are a lot of low speed corners where you need to get the car out as efficiently as possible. The track evolves over the weekend, generating more grip as the rubber goes down, so we must always take this into account, particularly during the earlier practice sessions, and manage our car setup and tyre strategies accordingly.
“Climate wise, Hungary is usually hot and the track temperatures are relatively high. They often go above 35 degrees Celsius and this adds to the high tyre degradation levels we see. With that in mind, this year in particular, the teams that can keep their cars out on track as long as possible on each set of tyres will benefit the most.”
Tony Fernandes, Caterham team principal
“The Hungarian Grand Prix marks the mid-point of the F1 season and it is always good to pause for a moment and collect your thoughts before we all head off for a well-deserved summer break. In terms of progress on track we have definitely gained in pace and development but there is obviously more work to do. We are yet to really unlock the whole potential of this car and that will only come with more hard work and more time, but we are absolutely determined to achieve what we have set out to this year.
“On the wider growth and development of the team I could not fault where we are now. We have started moving in to our new home in Leafield and that is a huge step for the F1 team and the whole Caterham Group. Our investment in that facility is a clear sign of how determined we are to join the F1 establishment but it does not stop there. In addition to Leafield we continue to attract well respected people from much bigger teams who are excited about the vision we have for our F1 team and all our automotive operations and we will be making more announcements on the commercial front in the very near future.
“Now the team heads to Hungary and the aim there is to get back to the levels of performance we saw in Valencia. We know we can do it, we have the people to put us where we want to be and another week of hard work should be rewarded by a strong performance at the Hungaroring.”