Team Lotus suspect that the tight and twisty, high-downforce nature of the Hungaroring may bring them closer the rest of the pack at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
“We may see the differences between the front of the grid and the back decrease slightly, and that could play into our hands,” explains chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. “We showed at Silverstone that we can put our cars into Q2 using the right strategy and that may be the same in Hungary.
“We are definitely influencing the plans of the teams ahead as they cannot risk being behind us in Q1 using only the prime tyres, so hopefully we can do that again in Hungary and keep fighting the midfield pack on Saturday, and pushing on in the race on Sunday when our race pace comes into its own.”
Jarno Trulli, who is back in the car this weekend after being replaced by Karun Chandhok in Germany, shares Gascoyne’s optimism. The Italian also enjoys the challenges of the Hungaroring.
“I'm obviously pleased to be back in the car and looking forward to getting on track in Hungary,” says Trulli. “The Hungarian Grand Prix is held on one of the typical modern Formula 1 circuits – it's pretty stop / start and has a lot of low speed corners with nothing really quick. It’s very bumpy and hilly, and it’s always very hot, so it’s a big challenge for the cars and the drivers but I do enjoy the race there as it pushes the drivers physically, and getting a good lap requires concentration and focus.
“This year it’s more difficult than any other season to predict how competitive we are going to be at any of the circuits we race at, mainly because there are so many new factors to take into account that comparisons with previous seasons are largely redundant. However, I think we can expect to be OK because we were competitive in Monaco, a circuit that's pretty similar to Hungary – relatively low speed with a need for good traction to push out of the slower corners and not so much reliance on aero performance.”
Heikki Kovalainen took his first, and so far only, F1 victory at this track in 2008. The Finn also expects to be closer to the established teams this weekend.
“After the cold weather in Germany it's back to the heat and dust of Hungary, scene of my first victory in F1,” he said. “This year I think the Hungarian race will be similar to most other places for us but as it's less dependent on aero efficiency I think we are in with a shout of pushing the guys ahead a bit more than somewhere like Silverstone.
“We need to get the tyres working properly and if we're clever with the strategy I think Saturday afternoon could be interesting – we'll see. Whatever happens I get a great reception when I'm in Hungary – there's always a lot of Finnish fans there and I've always left Hungary with good memories so I'm looking forward to getting back there again.”