Shell at the Hungarian F1 Grand Prix

2013 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview

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Formula One makes its annual visit to the Hungaroring this weekend following a three week break that has left many fans suffering from withdrawal symptoms and getting caught up in ‘silly season’. Debuting in 1986, the race has become a firm fixture on the F1 calendar as its tight and twisty nature provides a challenge for the drivers and teams, but with temperatures expected to surpass 100ºF, will the heat get to teams this weekend in Hungary?

Hungarian Grand Prix Talking Points

Vettel’s pursuit of the clean sweep continues

It’s a true testament to Sebastian Vettel’s brilliance that we have to keep picking holes in his records to undermine him, or even make him appear human. The Hungarian GP remains one of two races on the calendar he is yet to win, but crossing the line first in Hungary would leave just Austin on the current calendar where the German driver has not won. Further to that, he would take the world championship by the throat heading into the summer break as his lead could grow to over 40 points. Hypothetically, of course.

Ferrari in need of a strong weekend

As Vettel’s fine form continues, the title continues to move away from Ferrari and Fernando Alonso. Of late, the team has been well off the pace, but the high temperatures in Budapest on Sunday could yet come to the Italian marque’s rescue. Felipe Massa is also chasing a good result following another driver error in Germany; will the heat be too much for the Brazilian to handle?

Ricciardo looks to seal the deal

All of the signs suggest that Daniel Ricciardo could be the right choice for Red Bull. Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz told Autosport today that he was impressed with the Australian driver and also that an announcement regarding the second seat is close. A good drive from Ricciardo this weekend could show Red Bull just why he’s the right choice, but Kimi Raikkonen has a remarkable record at the circuit. This was never going to be an easy decision for the world champions.

McLaren facing an uphill battle to continue their streak

McLaren boast a record at Hungary that no other team can match: six wins in the last eight years and eleven wins in total at the track. As Jenson Button explained earlier today, the team is not expecting to extend that record this weekend, but a step-up in form and perhaps an improvement on a best result of P5 would certainly go down well with all at the British team.

What about Pirelli?

Pirelli has confirmed that it will be bringing the 2012 tire constructions to this weekend’s race in order to prevent a repeat of the fiasco at the British GP. However, this race could be the hottest F1 race ever, so is Pirelli aptly prepared for this? Who knows, but all eyes will be on the Italian manufacturer this weekend as they hope to have a quiet weekend.

Track: Hungaroring
Laps: 70
Corners: 14
Lap Record: Michael Schumacher 1:19.071 (2004)
Tire Compounds: Soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2012 Winner: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2012 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton 1:20.953
2012 Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel 1:24.136
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T14 to T1); T1 to T2 – one detection point at T14.

Thursday – Free Practice 1: 04:00am ET
Thursday – Free Practice 2: 08:00am ET
Saturday – Free Practice 3: 05:00am ET
Saturday – Qualifying: 08:00am ET
Sunday – Race: 08:00am ET

McLaren releases audio of first MP4-31 fire-up

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 01:  Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren Honda drives during the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez  on November 1, 2015 in Mexico City, Mexico.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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As the countdown to the beginning of Formula 1 pre-season testing in Barcelona continues, McLaren has followed Ferrari’s lead by releasing an audio snippet of its 2016 car being fired up for the first time.

McLaren enters the new year hoping to bounce back from a miserable 2015 campaign that was marred by struggles with its Honda power unit, limiting drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button to just 27 points across the course of the season.

The crew at Woking has been working tirelessly over the winter to get the new car, the MP4-31, ready for the new season, and everything now appears set for the first pre-season test in Barcelona.

On Sunday, McLaren released a short audio snippet of the car being fired up at its base ahead of its official unveil on February 21.

Pre-season testing begins at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 22, with the eighth and final day of running taking place on March 4.

NHRA: Parachute fails on Gary Densham’s career-best Funny Car run (video)

Densham crash
(Photo courtesy NHRA's official Twitter account)
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Veteran NHRA Funny Car driver Gary Densham has been hurtling down drag strips for more than 30 years.

Saturday, the 69-year-old Densham had the best day of his career — and one of the worst, at the same time.

The Southern California native was making a qualifying run during the season-opening Circle K Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

The good news for Densham: he ran a career-best 4.050 seconds in his Dodge Charger, qualifying 11th in the 16-car field for Sunday’s eliminations.

The bad news: the parachutes on his Funny Car failed to deploy and Densham ran head-on into a catchfence at the end of Auto Club Raceway’s short runoff area. While Densham’s car was destroyed, he walked away uninjured.

And that’s the best news of all.

Check out the video and then some tweets about the incident and the day, including visits by former IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti and Tommy Lee of rock group Motley Crue:

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Haas confirms F1 pre-season testing running order

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 30:  Haas F1 Team logos during the press conference for their driver announcement on October 30, 2015 in Mexico City, Mexico.  (Photo by Andrew Hone/Getty Images for Haas)
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Haas Formula 1 Team has confirmed its running order for the upcoming pre-season test sessions in Barcelona, Spain.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas’ new F1 team will grace the grid in 2016 after two years of preparation, with the covers being taken off its car on the morning of the first test on February 22 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

Romain Grosjean will be the first driver to head out on-track in a Haas F1 car, completing all of the running on February 22.

Teammate Esteban Gutierrez will then get his first taste of the car the following day, with the two drivers then alternating duties for the final two days of the opening test.

Gutierrez will enjoy both of the first two days of running at the second test (March 1-2) before handing back over to Grosjean for days three and four in Barcelona.

“The first thing for the test is to get the car to run and to work well from there. Hopefully, we can get a lot of mileage,” Grosjean said.

“This is a new team, so we need to get everyone to work together, all the engineers, mechanics and the drivers. We need to get as much data and knowledge as we can.

“It’s important to get the reliability sorted as early as possible because we don’t get much testing and we’re going straight to Melbourne.”

Haas F1 Team driver line-up for first Barcelona test (February 22-25)

Monday February 22: Grosjean
Tuesday February 23: Gutiérrez
Wednesday February 24: Grosjean
Thursday February 25: Gutiérrez

Haas F1 Team driver line-up for second Barcelona test (March 1-4)

Tuesday March 1: Gutiérrez
Wednesday March 2: Gutiérrez
Thursday March 3: Grosjean
Friday March 4: Grosjean

Romain Grosjean pleased with initial Haas simulator feedback

KANNAPOLIS, NC - SEPTEMBER 29:  Romain Grosjean of France speaks during a press conference as Haas F1 Team announces Grosjean as their driver for the upcoming 2016 Formula 1 season on September 29, 2015 in Kannapolis, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Stewart-Haas Racing via Getty Images)
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Romain Grosjean felt pleased with his first simulator run in the new Haas Formula 1 car ahead of its on-track debut in Barcelona on February 22.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas will take his F1 operation onto the grid this season after two years of preparation, with Grosjean joining ex-Ferrari reserve Esteban Gutierrez at the team for its maiden campaign.

Ahead of the car’s first on-track run at the beginning of pre-season testing in Spain later this month, Grosjean has completed some laps in it using a simulator, and reported that the initial feedback was positive.

“The impressions were quite good, even if in the beginning it was necessary to resolve a lot of small technical problems such as turbo lag, the energy recovered under braking, etc,” Grosjean told L’Equipe.

“The morning was spent doing this. But once everything was settled we had the opportunity to run extensively in the afternoon.

“I think the car’s baseline appears to be good. We now know the simulator corresponds to the windtunnel, but the differences with what we find in reality are sometimes huge – at Lotus for example, the car changed dramatically between track and simulator.”

Haas will lift the covers off its first F1 car on Monday 22 February ahead of the initial on-track running later that day.