Despite largely dominating the opening nine races of the 2015 F1 season, Mercedes is determined to head into the sport's summer break with another successful outing in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
With only Sebastian Vettel's unexpected victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix back in March separating the Silver Arrows from a clean sweep of the opening half, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg hold a dominant position at the head of the points table, but that is not enough for team management, who are looking for another 1-2 at the Hungaroring to cement Mercedes' status as the number one outfit.
“We approach Hungary determined to get a good result and to head into the summer break on a positive note,” executive director (technical) Paddy Lowe confirmed, “The Hungaroring is an interesting circuit - predominantly low and medium speed with a short straight, plenty of challenging corners and a lot of elevation changes – and it can be tricky to find the right compromise on suspension. It's also tough on brakes, but mostly it's about cornering ability, with teams running maximum downforce.”
Hamilton and Rosberg engaged in a typically feisty battle in last year's event, with the Briton ignoring team orders to claim a precious third place as Daniel Ricciardo stole victory for Red Bull. The Mercedes controversy ultimately led to Rosberg instigating a collision between the pair at the subsequent Belgian Grand Prix, the fall-out from which effectively shaped the rest of the 2014 season.
“Overtaking is tough but not impossible, so when passing manoeuvres do occur they're usually pretty special,” Lowe confirmed, “and there have been some bold, race-defining moves at the Hungaroring across the years.”
The Hungarian race ends a week in which the F1 world mourned the passing of Jules Bianchi, who appeared primed to become a threat to the Mercedes dominance had he been able to take up an expected role with Ferrari. Instead, it is memories of the Frenchman that will travel to Budapest.
“It has been a difficult week for the motorsport family,” Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff admitted, “My first thoughts go to the family and friends of Jules - the loss of a child is something for which there are no words, and on behalf of the team I send them strength for the days and weeks ahead.
“I personally remember the first time I heard of an incredibly talented young French guy with an Italian name back in 2007 - how he performed in his F3 rookie season in 2008, then dominated the following year to become champion. That is how we will remember Jules - as an extraordinary champion - and we will honour his memory by continuing to improve the safety of the drivers, team members, circuit workers and spectators under the leadership of the FIA.”