The McLaren-Mercedes team arrive at the Hungaroring for the Hungarian Grand Prix having taken an eighth and ninth place finish last weekend in Germany. Jenson Button was the higher placed of the two drivers after an aggressive tyre strategy failed to work, while team-mate Kevin Magnussen was forced to climb through the field after clashing with the Williams of Felipe Massa on the opening lap that damaged his front wing.
Button has fond memories of the Hungaroring track, and is looking forward to getting out on track this weekend. He considers some of the track is satisfying to drive despite its reputation of being slow. He is hopeful the upgraded McLaren will work well around the twisty circuit.
“As you know, this has been a special place for me for some time,” said Button. “I won my first grand prix here back in 2006 – it was one of those days when everything seemed to go my way – and I won my 200th grand prix here. That was an emotional day – and it was back in 2011 – I can’t believe it was nearly 60 races ago.
“The Hungaroring is a great track. Everybody thinks of it as a slow circuit, but, out the back, it’s got some pretty decent corners – Turn Four requires some serious commitment, and it’s made harder because it has a blind apex. Equally, the sequence of S-bends that make up Turns Eight to 11 are really satisfying to drive.
“Nonetheless, it’s still a circuit where you require lots of downforce and grip, and I think we are making positive steps in that direction.”
Team-mate Magnussen also enjoys racing at the Hungaroring, having raced there for DAMS in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series in 2013. He is hopeful that the combination of low and mid-speed corners will enable McLaren to have a strong and productive weekend.
“I really like the Hungaroring,” insisted Magnussen. “It isn’t a fast circuit but, a bit like Monaco, it’s a track on which a driver can really make a difference. I raced there last year in World Series by Renault 3.5 – and, although I didn’t win either of the two races we had that weekend, I really enjoyed the first of them in particular.
“Qualifying had been messed up for many of the drivers, owing to torrential rain, and I ended up 16th on the grid. From there I got it all hooked up really well on race day, which was also extremely wet, and I overtook a load of cars as I worked my way up to second place at the end. It was great!
“I think we’ve shown recently that our car performs slightly better on tracks with a combination of low- and mid-speed corners, so I think this weekend will hopefully offer us another opportunity to score some useful world championship points.
“After a couple of frustrating races, I’m hoping for a weekend where everything comes together.”
Racing Director Eric Boullier has been encouraged by the recent upturn in McLaren’s race pace, and is hopeful for more progress in Hungary. He knows the importance the next six months has for the team, as they aim to get back to the front of the field.
“McLaren has a fantastic record in Hungary – we’ve won 11 grand prix there – and, while it’s unlikely we’ll be in a position to win this year, I think we travel to Budapest feeling encouraged by a number of our recent performances,” said Boullier. “We know there’s still a lot to do, but there’s a feeling that the whole team’s motivation is growing.
“This is effectively the last race of the first ‘half’ of the season: Formula 1 takes a short break for the summer before we return for the final few races in Europe, then the long and intense series of fly-aways that end the year.
“It’s always beneficial to go into the summer break with a positive result, so we’ll be trying hard to do just that; even more important, it’s essential that we maintain our focus and determination with regard to car development. The next six months will be critical for everybody at McLaren, and we’ll be working as hard as possible to keep on pushing.”