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Renault Sport F1 Preview to the Hungarian GP


Just one week after the thrilling German Grand Prix comes the next round of the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship: the Hungarian Grand Prix. Held at the Hungaroring, the 4.381km track outside Budapest, the race has one of the slowest average speeds on the calendar, just 182kph, yet one of the highest average ambient temperatures at 26C. As such, the Hungaroring requires an engine that can perform efficiently through the lower rev range, with cooling solutions even more crucial than at Monaco on account of the hot climatic conditions.

The Hungarian Grand Prix came onto the calendar in 1986, the first Grand Prix behind the then-Iron Curtain in the East of Europe. Ayrton Senna, driving a Lotus-Renault, took the first-ever pole position while Thierry Boutsen took Renault’s first win in 1990 with the Williams-Renault FW13B. Renault engines have since scored a further six wins, including three consecutive victories between 1995 and 1997. Current engine partners, Red Bull Racing-Renault, took the winners’ spoils last year with Mark Webber.

A lap of Hungary from an engine point of view

Sector one

There’s a long run from the start-finish line down to the first corner, which will favour effective use of KERS. The first corner is then a tight hairpin that requires engine braking as well as literal braking to go from 288kph to just 94kph. There is also a banking change after corner one where the track goes downhill, giving the car a tendency to understeer. Corner two is maybe the toughest corner of the track as it’s downhill so the braking is difficult and it’s easy to lock a wheel and miss the apex. The exit is important though as cars go onto a 790m medium long straight, the only real straight on the circuit other than the pit straight. This short straight is the only other opportunity the engine has to ‘breathe’ over the 4.381km track.

Sector two

The sixth gear 225kph turn four, the highest speed corner on the track, has a little bump as cars go uphill. It’s the twistiest sector and cars will not reach any more than 245kph as they negotiate mainly third gear corners. All the corners seem to link together – turn five is a radial corner and patience on the throttle is rewarded as as there are lots of bumps that upset the balance of the car. The driver then goes on to approach six and seven, a slow chicane taken at 100kph. Turns eight to 11 flow together and never seem to end – the engine must work over the lower revs here and offer responsiveness through the sequence of bends. The entry and exit into and from turn 11 is particularly important as there is a short straight before the final complex of the track.

Sector three

After the short straight drivers enter an arena section where the cars snake through a series of S-shaped bends, changing direction rapidly. The engine needs to be particularly responsive through this section, allowing the driver to carry the speed through the turns and on the exit of turn 14 onto the pit straight for another lap.

View from Rémi Taffin, head of Renault Sport F1 track operations

The Hungaroring is a typical ‘point and squirt’ circuit, with slow corners linked by very short straights that need short, sharp bursts of power rather than long sustained application of the throttle. In terms of its characteristics, it’s basically a Monaco-style circuit, like a karting track, but without the guardrails. Apart from the pit straight and the straight from turn three to four there are no long straights and the combination of second, third and fourth gear corners stresses the car and the engine, especially in this part of the year where there are high ambient temperatures.

Cooling is crucial and Renault Sport F1 will work closely with the chassis teams to include solutions that will not compromise the aero of the car. Like Monaco, the slow corners need a high downforce setting so any additional air inlet we make to cool the engine has a direct impact on the potential grip of the car. To avoid this, we carefully prepare the Hungaroring in the dynos back at Viry, working specifically over the low revs in high ambient conditions.

The dusty sandy environment around the track just adds to the difficulty of preparing this race and special filters will be used to avoid sand and dust entering the internals. We will also work with Total to use high grade lubricants to avoid any additional wear caused by the abrasive sand. It’s a tough race to end the first part of the season!

Did you know…

Races that take place in sandy locations, such as the Bahrain and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix that are located either in or next to a desert, and the Hungarian Grand Prix where the surrounding area has a lot of fine dust, can potentially be very damaging for the engine. Since sand is basically small granules of glass, the particles are very abrasive if they enter the internals of the engine. To avoid any sort of issues like this, the engine team will work closely with the chassis teams to include special air filters to keep the sand and dust out.


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