Williams seeks low-speed track improvement in Hungary


Williams Martini Racing has scored both its started cars in every race but one this year: Monaco.

And as the team heads to Hungary this weekend, they’re optimistic they can avoid a second double non-score at the second low-speed, high-downforce circuit on the calendar.

The team is hopeful that recent upgrades that have brought them closer to the front of the field in recent races, scoring podiums in Canada and Austria before running 1-2 at Silverstone before its strategy decision backfired and cost them a podium, will again work at the Hungaroring.

“Hungary is tight and twisty, and is a low efficiency circuit in terms of aerodynamics but also has some high speed corners,” Williams’ head of performance engineering Rob Smedley said in a pre-race release.

“The balance of the car is important as the long loaded corners tend to highly stress the front tyres and lead to graining, but you then go into the traction phase with hot rear tires, so it’s not easy to get a good lap in.

“The temperature always plays its part with hot ambient temperatures and this has an effect on the power unit and aerodynamic set-up.”

Felipe Massa, who has a best finish of fourth at Hungary (2010 with Ferrari) since his 2009 accident at the circuit, looks to go better than fifth here last year.

“Hungary is a special place for me. I have a lot of fans there after my accident in 2009 and since then the people have really got behind me which is great,” Massa said. “Being so close to a city which has such fantastic culture really adds to the race weekend.

“This circuit wouldn’t normally suit our car because it’s quite low speed, but we have improved the car so much in recent races with the upgrades we have introduced so we should have another competitive weekend.”

The man to watch this weekend however is Massa’s teammate Valtteri Bottas, now in his first race weekend since a report broke last week that the Finn appears headed for Ferrari in 2016.

Bottas, though, looks for glory in the closest thing to a home Grand Prix at a track that traditionally attracts a lot of Finns. He started third but ended eighth here last year.

“Budapest is a great city and hosts a great race. There are a lot of Finnish fans living in Hungary, but also many who make the trip for this race weekend so I always have a lot of support – it’s almost a Finnish Grand Prix,” he said.

“The circuit is very different from the last few because it’s much tighter with more medium and slow speed corners, but our development has been focused on tracks like this and generating higher downforce. We should be looking to have a strong weekend and to build on the good momentum we have built.”