Nico Hulkenberg

Renault preview the Hungarian Grand Prix

Nico Hulkenberg

Renault team and drivers preview the Hungarian Grand Prix, Round 11 of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, at Hungaroring near Budapest.

Renault Sport Racing Managing Director, Cyril Abiteboul: “We head to Hungary with a positive mood brought about by the recent performance gains we have seen to the R.S.17. Budapest is the final race before the summer break and this gives us added motivation.

“Silverstone had many strong positives, which occurred on the weekend of our 40th anniversary. We made a return to the points thanks to Nico’s impressive drive to sixth place; our joint best finish of the season. He drove well with few mistakes and we combined that with a good strategy and pit-stop, to finish over 30 seconds ahead of the Force Indias.

“However, this success is tinged with disappointment for Jolyon who unfortunately could not start the race after an issue with the hydraulic system. He was in a good position on the grid in eleventh at his home race and was well on course to be in contention for his first points of the season, thus it’s a disappointment.

“We have shown at Silverstone that we are continuing to improve. Chassis developments, in particular the new floor, proved to be positive exemplified from Nico’s eight points and both cars showing strong qualifying pace.

“It’s critical to back up this improvement with both cars finishing in the top ten in Hungary – we want to finish the first half of the season on a positive note. To achieve this, we need to put behind our reliability problems. We know our situation and the areas which require more attention.”

Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester explains the demands of the challenging Hungaroring circuit as the R.S.17 continues to demonstrate improved pace.

What are the challenges of the Hungaroring?
NC: It’s tight and twisty throughout, aside from a big long straight across the start and finish line. It has many low and medium speed corners, which demand stability on corner entry and strong traction on the exit. It’s quite hard on both the front and rear tyres so overall it can be characterised as a tough handling circuit. It’s not the most frequented of circuits, so the surface starts the weekend a bit green, then improves through the weekend.

What are your post-Silverstone thoughts?
NC: We had significant aero upgrades in Silverstone and we expected to see improvements in overall grip and stability. We made the car more drivable with more downforce. It took a big step forward and we could see that in the measurements made in the car, so we are reasonably confident this will carry forward.

What caused Jo to miss the race?
NC: It was something as simple as an O ring in the hydraulic system. We’ve been investigating thoroughly to determine why it failed to ensure we don’t see this again.

What new parts are there for Budapest?
NC: Both cars will have the new floor we validated. We will evaluate updated front bodywork and a modified cooling package.

Nico Hülkenberg made a welcome return to the points at Silverstone, and he wants to build on that positive weekend in Budapest on a physically demanding Hungaroring circuit.

What do you make of the Hungaroring?
NH: I like Hungary, it’s a good Grand Prix. The track is cool and technical with lots of good corner combinations which come one after the other. It feels like all of the corners combine, one error means you will suffer in another corner; you need a good flow and harmony. It’s a physical track, very hot too which is hard on us drivers. I like the track: it’s a demanding circuit, you don’t get too many breaks on the lap, so it’s a Grand Prix which comes down to fitness, more so than others.

And what about the Hungarian culture?
NH: I think the city of Budapest is pretty especially with all its architecture. In terms of food, they have the Hungarian goulash which is very popular. It’s certainly an interesting and pretty country and usually very hot there. There are lots of things to do and see, it’s a cool and buzzing weekend which means it’s usually good fun for the fans.

You must be delighted with your Silverstone weekend?
NH: I was happy with Silverstone, it was a very positive weekend. The new floor worked well and took the car a step forward. We managed to translate a good starting position into a strong finish. The pace was really good, we were faster than the midfield competition, so best of the rest which is nice. We rewarded ourselves with some points which is important. Sixth is good for me, and good for the team who have been pushing hard. Now it’s time to reboot and go again in Budapest.

A luckless British Grand Prix for Jolyon Palmer means he has extra grit to seek a change of fortune on a technical Budapest circuit.

What are your thoughts on the Hungaroring?
JP: I really like Budapest, it brings up some good memories such as when I won there in the GP2 Series in 2013. The track is different in nature to many others in terms of having a lot of slow speed corners. Once you brake for the first turn you don’t get much of a breather until you’re back round again and on to the straight. The entire circuit flows together and makes for an exciting lap, there is little room for error in terms of braking and turning points, everything has to go smoothly. It’s difficult to overtake there and it’s important to find a good rhythm. It’s fun to drive a lap, it’s usually good for racing, so hopefully I can have a change of luck and finally get some points.

How are you going to find that change of luck?
JP: I have burnt the unlucky underpants, so they are now out of the way! I’m not superstitious, but you have to say this run of bad luck has to end.

What were the positives from Silverstone?
JP: The big negative was obviously not being able to start the race. That was unbelievably frustrating, especially as it was my home Grand Prix and I had a lot of support. I couldn’t believe it. But, on the positives, there were certainly a couple of good things from Silverstone. My qualifying pace was decent and I managed my second best run of the season. I drove with the new floor in FP1 and it was working nicely, meaning I’m happy to have it for Budapest. Nico showed the benefit of the floor across last weekend with his strong qualifying and race pace. It’s exciting for the team as we looked competitive and ahead of our midfield rivals. That’s all I hope for in Hungary.