Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Acceleration, that's what you need in Hungary.

Back in the day, at the dawn of video games, the driving sim used to be a pretty simple affair, it was a couple of pixels moving between a long flowing line to mark the track. You went left and right as the track flowed out of the screen and you crashed into other blocks of pixels every now and again.

As things progressed the pixels started to look more and more like an actually car and the tracks started to be a different colour to the rest of the screen. Soon as well as other cars, there was stuff at the side of the track to crash into.

Time past and soon it was possible to start setting up the car. This would usually mean a simple choice between acceleration and top speed. You either went like a rocket off the line, or pulled the leading car back on the straights. Those that knew the dark arts always went for acceleration, because the corners are where you win and lose a race. There were never enough long straights to pull out enough of an advantage to stay in front of the accelerating cars.

Things haven’t really changed much over the intervening years, being able to go fast is one thing, but getting through the corner as fast as possible and being able to accelerate out of the corner is still where races are won and lost.

Which brings us to the Hungarian GP, a place that has one long straight and a couple of high speed corners, but mostly miles and miles of technical little corners that need precision and patience not blood and guts. Oh and usually very hot weather. In short … this is Ferrari territory.

The Ferrari isn’t the fastest car in a straight line and it’s not the quickest through the fast corners, but goes off the line like lightening and can get the power down efficiently out of the corners. Their KERS unit is okay, not as quite as good as the Mclaren unit but more reliable than the Redbull lump. Their ace in the hole is that they have one of the best drivers in the game at setting up and thinking through a race in Alonso. Love him or loath him you have to admire his ability to work a car through its problems and shortcomings. His ability to give a team direction is second only to his ability to divide them.

The Hungarian track is all about being consistent, the driver needs to flow around the circuit carrying as much speed into and out of. It doesn’t get much use for the rest of the year so the track is pretty dusty and green for the first Friday practice and comes to the drivers as the weekend progress. It’s an evolution process of setting the car up as the grip improves.

Hungary marks the end of the first half of the season before the month long holiday for the teams. So the front runners will be testing lots of new bits to get some sort of idea where to develop the cars after the enforced break.

Around the paddock it’s all been rather quite, only the on going implosion of Renault has kept the headline writers happy. The team principle, Eric Boullier , has come out to say the team needs to get it’s finger out and deliver on some of the potential they showed at the start of the season. The fickle finger of fate seems to be pointing towards the drivers for not delivering with Senna jnr getting a Friday test drive in Hungary, whilst the word on the street is that the floppy haired failure Grosjean will get another crack of the whip when Petrov gets fired. Are either of these two any better than Heidfeld and Petrov? Not a chance, but they are much cheaper and the cost would appear to be the deciding factor here. Once again, Money people not understanding the passion of motor racing non-shocker.

So then back to the point of all this. Acceleration, that’s what is required here and I think Ferrari are now on a par with Redbull, the updates at Valencia appear to have made the difference with the Red cars much much closer to where Redbull are, Massa had the other car up behind the top three until a wheel nut cost him an extra second in the pit top let Vettel through,.. If it’s hot then the Ferrari is going to be a no brainer for the win.

Webber always chokes when the chips are down and Vettel can’t overtake for toffee, if the Ferraris or McLarens can nail qualifying then Redbull will have another disappointing weekend.

Don’t forget to update your predictions before Friday.

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