F1 Race Diary: Season 1, HRT, Hungary (3rd, Q2)

Hungary tends to give with one hand and take with the other for me. Traditionally, I qualify well then suffer mistakes and all kinds of bad luck during the race. This pattern has persisted from Microprose Grand Prix through to F1 2010.

The Hungaroring is a track I like. It’s often described as Monaco without the walls as if to indicate it’s a really slow track but it’s all relative. The thing I love about the corners at Hungaroring is that most of them require you to stand on the throttle as soon as you’ve completed braking. Turn 4 is clearly a fast kink (exhilarating when executed successfully) but look at turns 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 13. Some of them are 180° corners, some of them are over 90°; yet all of them share the technique of braking hard into the apex then immediate full acceleration. This feeling is tremendously satisfying and there isn’t any other track quite like it. Something else that’s unusual about Hungaroring’s layout is the lack of any corners that feel really slow; Turn 6 is the slowest, but doesn’t really feel like it because of the threading-the-needle accuracy required and the rest are all medium-to-high speed.

With a highest-but-one downforce car setup, a quick practice yielded a surprisingly good 11th. With fresh tires and, after a few laps when I remembered, Fuel Mix 3, I was qualifying 5th on a lap with significant mistakes and wheels off the track. A consolidation was required and I was delighted when a clean lap put me 2nd behind only Alonso. I was even more surprised when that was how the session ended. 2nd in an HRT where I’d been qualifying on average in the late teens. Result!

Would the race turn out disastrously for me as it has so often in the past? No. This was a fun race and the result was great. My first laps were spent battling Vettel and Schumacher, my post-pit-stop mid-race fending off Schumacher successfully and only my error at Turn 12 saw Vettel waft by two laps from the end. Even though I lost a place from my start position and had the race’s second fastest lap, third is still a great result for me and an HRT which have only been placing in the teens.

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