Heat is on for Mercedes in Hungary
Budapest, Hungary – Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg might be at a disadvantage in this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix.
Formula One has not raced since the July 7 German Grand Prix. Last week, though, all F1 teams except Mercedes participated in a Pirelli tire test as part of the three-day young driver test at Silverstone Circuit. FIA's International Tribunal suspended Mercedes from the Silverstone test after the team conducted an unapproved tire test in May at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya.
At Silverstone, teams familiarized themselves with Pirelli's new tires that will be used for the Hungarian GP. The revised tires come in wake of the tire failures occurring in the British Grand Prix last month.
The tires will be just one concern for Mercedes. The weather will be another. Very high temperatures are expected in Budapest during the weekend.
"It's going to be tough this weekend definitely," said Hamilton, who is in his first season with Mercedes. "The (hot) conditions will not help. Plus, we haven't driven the tires as everyone else has. We've got a bit of catching up to do, but that's what we do best. We just have to work as hard as we can this weekend to try to understand the tires and put ourselves in the best position possible. We have a lot of work to do to continue to improve our race pace, but I anticipate it will be a difficult weekend."
With Hungary the 10th round in this year's 19 grand prix F1 season, Mercedes holds the second spot in the constructors' championship standings. Mercedes has accrued 183 points compared to 250 for Red Bull.
"Friday (practice) will be our first opportunity to work with the new tires on our cars, so we have a great deal to learn in a short space of time," Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn said. "We want to finish the first half of the season on a high, but the challenge facing us is clear."
Hamilton has three victories in the Hungarian GP, which is the most among active drivers. He started on the pole and won this event in his final season with McLaren last year. Hamilton has yet win a grand prix with Mercedes. He is currently fourth in the world championship standings, as he trails leader and three-time defending F1 champion Sebastian Vettel by 58 points.
"I don't really look at myself as a championship contender at the moment," Hamilton admitted. "At the beginning of the season, everyone was writing me off, and then all of a sudden, they changed their opinions. We've had some really good results. That's just due to all the hard work the team are putting in, and we're not giving up.
"We're going to keep pushing. We hope that we're going to get some wins in the future races coming. It's going to be tough, but I'm really happy with how the season has gone so far, especially compared to where the team was last year. It's a massive step."
Rosberg has won two of the last four grand prix - Monaco and Britain. He has finished no better than fourth in his previous seven races at Budapest's Hungaroring circuit.
"The Hungaroring is always a track that I enjoy driving, and it has quite a challenging layout for the drivers," Rosberg said. "With all the twists and turns, it feels very much like Monaco, but takes place on a normal circuit. Qualifying will be important this weekend, which is good for us, but we know that we have to deliver on Sunday as well."
After Hungary, F1 takes a three-week "summer vacation" before it resumes its season on Aug. 25 with the Belgian Grand Prix.
Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, July 28. Race: Hungarian Grand Prix. Site: Hungaroring. Track: 2.722-mile (4.381-kilometer), 14-turn road course. Start Time: 8 a.m. ET. Laps: 70. Miles: 190.540 (306.630 km). 2012 Winner: Lewis Hamilton. Television: NBC Sports Network.