Esteban Gutierrez: The practice and qualifying sessions leading into Silverstone went very smoothly for Haas F1 Team, giving everyone confidence of a good performance in the race. But with the downpour just before the beginning of the race affecting strategy, the race was a letdown. How do you shake off that kind of disappointment and move on to the next race?
“We are optimistic that we are making good progress and having more consistency, and this has been shown in the good qualifying sessions and through the weekend showing consistent, good pace. Unfortunately, during the race there was 10 degrees less in track temperature, which affected the tire performance and is a point that we need to improve. It was definitely not the race we expected, but we have to keep our optimism very high for the following two races, especially for Budapest.”
We go from Silverstone – one of the fastest and most flowing circuits in Formula One – to the Hungaroring, which is one of the slowest circuits and also very technical. Does it take a few laps to forget about what you felt in the car at Silverstone, or are you able to just jump into the car and immediately get up to speed, despite the Hungaroring’s drastically different layout?
“You get used to it. Budapest is a track where the temperatures are usually very hot and the main characteristic of the tire is that they get overheated very easily. But I know the car and I am confident in driving the car, so with any kind of conditions or track characteristics you just get used to it very quickly.”
The Hungaroring seems akin to a full-size karting track. You began your career in karting. Is that an apt analogy?
“The Hungaroring for me is a special track. It’s the first track I tested in Europe back at the end of 2007 when I tested Formula BMW, so it brings me great memories every time I come back there. I have achieved great results, so mainly from that point of view, I’m happy to be back. It is a slow track, but it has also quick corners and a very interesting layout.”
You’re constantly turning the wheel at the Hungaroring, and with the slow speeds, very little air flows into the car. Combined with the normally high temperatures experienced in Budapest, how physically demanding is the Hungarian Grand Prix?
“It’s quite physically demanding because of the fact you have not many chances to have a pause from the driving. You have to be focused all the time because all the corners make it very demanding – mentally and physically. But I like that challenge. It’s a nice track and I really look forward to the experience.”
How difficult is it to overtake at the Hungaroring and where are the overtaking opportunities?
“I would say turn one is the best opportunity. You come down from the long straight and you have the DRS on, so yeah, it’s approaching turn one. Also the exit of turn one approaching turn two. Those are the two main overtaking opportunities.”
A lot of grip, a lot of braking and a lot of high-energy demands all conspire against tires at the Hungaroring. How do you manage the tires and get the most out of them?
“That’s a characteristic of the Hungaroring. The tires degrade very quickly, so it’s even more important in qualifying to be spot on the first lap and get the maximum out of the new tires. You don’t have a second chance on this track to put a good lap time on the tires.”
What is your favorite part of the Hungaroring?
“I would say the last corner, which I enjoy a lot, and sector two where you have the chicane and a good series of corners, which makes it very interesting. You cannot miss one apex because if you miss one apex, all of the following corners are affected and quite long. There is also a very nice, fast corner – turn 11. I love it.”
Describe a lap around the Hungaroring.
“You come down full speed into turn one, the biggest braking of all the circuits. The exit of turn one is a hairpin, and you come down to turn two, which is a very long corner – downhill off-banking – so it’s pretty challenging on entry. You exit to go down to turn three, preparing the line from turn two and more straight down to turn five, which is a high-speed corner to the left. Taking a lot of the curb and the apex makes it very nice. Then turn six – a long corner to the right, a little bit of uphill, which then approaches turn seven and eight, which is a very interesting chicane. It’s very slow, but interesting because you can use all the curb on the apex and exit. You come out of that corner with the tires overheated and approaching the next sequence of corners which is eight, nine and 10. It becomes very challenging because you need to keep the temperature on the tires low and you’re trying to make the corners in the best way, sometimes sliding the car, pushing on the limit. You approach turn 11, which is a high-speed corner. You enter into the corner with a little bit of trickiness coming from the high temperatures of the tires. The exit of turn 11 there is a bit more straight. You come down to turn 12, which is a 90-degree corner, and usually you can use the curb to maximize the track. Then you come down to turn 13, a very long corner and uphill before approaching the last corner, which is one of my favorite ones.”