Verstappen: Hungaroring no longer 'Monaco without the barriers'

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Max Verstappen believes the Hungaroring, venue for next weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix,  is losing its moniker of 'Monaco without the barriers' as cornering speeds increase.

Traditionally the circuit, located in a bowl outside the capital of Budapest, has been compared with the street circuit due to the tight and twisty layout and the lack of margin for error with cars often seen running wide into the run-off areas. Also, due to the often hot and dusty conditions, grip often used to increase dramatically during the weekend, as it does on a non-permanent track.

That changed a little last year when new tarmac led to a much grippier surface and the fastest ever lap times around the Hungaroring and this year's higher downforce cars will see cornering speeds increase even further on what has become quite a rollercoaster ride for the drivers.

“It’s a great track, especially in an F1 car," said the Dutchman. "I wouldn’t say it’s Monaco without walls but it’s definitely a bit more narrow than other circuits we go to.

"We do have more grip this year so maybe you have to do a few different lines compared to the previous year," he added. "But all in all that’s manageable and quite straightforward."

With the lack of long straights or flat-out corners, power sensitivity is much less than at most circuits and that usually allows Verstappen's Red Bull team to be more competitive.

The 19-year-old, who was famously involved in a battle with Kimi Raikkonen last year, was cautious in predicting form, however, saying: “It’s always a bit too early to say how we’ll do in Hungary.

"We’re constantly improving, trying to get a better balance and more downforce on the car."

Teammate Daniel Ricciardo was a little more enthusiastic, claiming: “The Hungarian Grand Prix is always at the point of the season where summer is approaching so I’m always in a pretty good place and the car is normally getting better as well.

"It all kind of comes good by the end of July."

The Australian also has great memories around the Hungaroring, as it was the venue for his second F1 win with Red Bull three years ago.

"Hungary 2014 was a cool victory," he recalled. "Of course I love winning but that was an awesome race.

"In order to win, I had to pass Hamilton and Alonso, pretty much the best two - so that was cool!

“I love that track and it has always been a good one for me. I’ve had some great weekends there even before Formula 1."

Much like Silverstone, the 28-year-old is also looking forward to the performance of the 2017 cars around the sweeping curves.

"The second sector is going to be amazing. That’s one of my favourite sectors in Formula 1," he claimed.

"This track means elbows out for sure as there are three key places where you can overtake.

"I’ve made some good moves in Turn 1 in the past, Turn 2 you can go inside or outside as both lanes work and the hairpin is fun too.

"If Sunday is hot it’ll definitely be a physically demanding race, so I can’t make the mistake again of eating too much meat on Saturday night!"

 

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