F1 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix: Hamilton confident ahead of Budapest race

PUBLISHED: 22:05 26 July 2012 | UPDATED: 19:40 29 July 2012

Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren garage ahead of the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren garage ahead of the 2012 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

HOCH ZWEI

FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton bids for his third Hungarian Grand Prix victory at the Hungaroring on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes racer from Hertfordshire took the chequered flag in Hungary in 2007 and again two years later.

McLaren has the best record of any Formula 1 constructor at the Hungaroring with 10 wins. Hamilton, who met boxing legend Muhammad Ali in London last night (Wednesday), and teammate Jenson Button have each won twice at the circuit and they’re looking to add to that tally in the 2012 race on Sunday.

After retiring from last weekend’s German GP at Hockenheim, Hamilton is hoping for better luck near the beautiful city of Budapest.

“I rolled the dice in Germany and got two ones,” said the 2008 F1 world champion ahead of the first practice session.

McLaren at the Hungarian Grand Prix

* Wins: 10 (1988, 1991, 1992, 1999, 2000, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011)

* Poles: 7 (1988, 1991, 1998, 1999, 2006, 2007, 2008)

* Fastest Laps: 5 (1988, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005)

“That’s life, sometimes, but at least I get the chance to give them another roll this weekend – and I’ll be hoping for two sixes!

“I think there’s good reason to feel confident, too; our Hockenheim upgrade package seems to have delivered the pace we anticipated and a good result just before the summer break would be the perfect way to end the first half of the season.”

Hamilton added: “Things haven’t always gone our way in the first half, but I certainly feel like we’re experiencing something of a turning point for the whole team.

“We’ve really stepped up and delivered the pace we needed, our strategy has been spot-on and our pitstops, despite a troubled start at the beginning of the year, are now consistently the fastest in the pitlane.”

"I firmly believe that we have the drivers, car and team to win both titles."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh

Only seven of the 20 race tracks on this year’s Formula 1 calendar are older than the Hungaroring – scene of Sunday’s 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix.

It was built in just eight months ahead of staging its first grand prix in August 1986. And it’s been a regular fixture on the calendar ever since.

The 2.722-mile/4.381km track is the slowest permanent circuit of the season. It’s narrow and bumpy, and its five 180-degree hairpins place a great deal of emphasis on low-speed mechanical grip. Braking and traction are also crucial in order to set a competitive lap time.

The track isn’t used much during the year, so the asphalt is normally very dusty and slippery at the start of the race weekend.

Hungarian Grand Prix facts

* Race distance: 70 laps (190.531 miles/306.630km)

* Start time: 14:00 (local)/13:00 BST

* Circuit length: 2.722 miles/4.381km

* 2011 winner: Jenson Button (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) 70 laps in 1hr46m42.337s

* 2011 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing) 1m19.815s (197.601km/h)

* Lap record: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) 1m19.071s (199.461km/h)

It takes most of first free practice on Friday for the cars to create a clean line, after which set-up work can begin in earnest.

As was the case in Germany last weekend, the teams will be working with Pirelli’s medium and soft compounds.

More often than not, the race has been run in hot conditions over the last 25 years, with ambient temperatures in excess of 30 degrees.

This places huge stress on the drivers, who have to cope with cockpit temperatures in excess of 50 degrees and very little respite behind the wheel, due to the tortuous nature of the circuit.

Car 4: Lewis Hamilton

* Age: 27 (January 7 1985)

* GPs: 100

* Wins: 18

* Poles: 21

* FLs: 11

* 2012 points: 92 (5th)

However, the weather forecast for this weekend looks mixed – as it was last year, when Button won the race for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

The McLaren drivers are still struggling to get the Pirelli tyres to work in the rain, something Hamilton expects the team to correct.

He said: “Of course, we still have work to do in order to fully understand the heating characteristics of the Pirelli tyres in wet weather.

“The current forecast is for mixed weather in Budapest, but we’re gathering more and more data on the tyres, and those conditions may give us further opportunity to overcome the issues we’ve recently encountered.”

Jenson Button celebrates on the podium after the 2012 Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheim [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]Jenson Button celebrates on the podium after the 2012 Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheim [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

Button walked the track earlier today with engineers Dave Robson and Tom Stallard, the former Olympic rower from Tewin.

Buoyed by his second place finish last weekend, Button said: “The result in Germany puts us right back in the hunt.

“In that situation, there’s nothing better than a back-to-back weekender: you return to the cockpit almost before you’ve unpacked your bags from the previous race, so it’s great to carry forward that momentum.”

Button took maximum points in Hungary 12 months ago. He said: “And there’s every reason to believe we can get another good result this year.

“Our pace at Hockenheim gives us cause for encouragement – it’s just that, as always, we’ll need to run flawlessly through qualifying and the race if we’re to be in the hunt at the end.”

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