The Williams Martini Racing team arrive in Hungary this weekend on the back of three races where they have showed themselves to be a force to be reckoned with. Valtteri Bottas has secured three podium finishes in three races, but team-mate Felipe Massa has had the worst share of the luck, being eliminated in crashes on the opening lap of the previous two races through no fault of his own.
After three consecutive podium finishes, Bottas is riding on a crest of a wave as he arrives in Hungary, but is hoping for another good result to ensure that good feeling continues. He knows a good qualifying performance is essential, and is determined to have a good weekend in front of the fans that traditionally flock from his homeland of Finland for this weekend.
“Budapest is the last race before the summer break,” said Bottas. “We are aiming for a good result there so we head into the holidays with a good feeling. We know it’s not the best circuit for our car but we are working on getting more grip in the corners and we have some upgrades that should help as well.
“Qualifying is very important as it’s not an easy track to overtake at; normally the race is hot as well so tyre degradation will be high. A good few practice sessions should help us get the set-up right. There are always a few fans from Finland; it’s almost like a Finnish GP so I hope to pay the fans back with a good result.”
Team-mate Massa has some unwanted memories of the Hungaroring. He came close to a win at the track in 2008 but retired in the closing stages after an engine failure that handed the win to the McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen, but came close to ending his career with a frightening incident in 2009 when a spring from the back of the Brawn of Rubens Barrichello broke away and hit the Brazilian on the helmet, causing him an injury that ruled him out for the rest of the season. Despite this he is ready to get on track and get a good points finish on a track the Brazilian does not believe will suit the team as much as the last few races have.
“Hungary is a track where a good power unit is a little less important,” said Massa. “Aerodynamics play a higher part and getting good downforce for the corners is vital. We have worked hard to get the car ready for this type of circuit and if that has all worked we should still be competitive. I hope to be able to get lots more points this weekend.”
Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley feels the race in Hungary will be difficult for the team, but is hopeful the recent upturn of fortune for the team continues before the mid-season break kicks in next week.
“Hungary is a very high downforce circuit with low efficiency,” said Smedley. “It’s usually very hot there and with the tyre compounds that Pirelli will be bringing, it’ll be a difficult race. It’s a very important race as it’s the last before the summer break. Psychologically it’s important to get a good haul of points and come away in a strong position.
“In terms of the track, it’s one where rear tyre graining can be an issue, depending on the modulus of the tyre. In the past, teams have suffered from front graining as well, so it will be a struggle to control both.”