Although delivering a chargrilled R.S.16 back to the garage at the end of the Silverstone test wasn’t quite the intended plan, Jolyon Palmer is in a positive mood heading to one of his favourite tracks of the season at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
What are your thoughts heading to Hungary?
I really like Budapest as it’s been the scene for some of my best races. I won there in the GP2 Series. I like the city and I like the entire place. The track is different in nature to many of them in terms of having a lot of slow speed corners so it feels a bit like Monaco without the walls.
What are the challenges heading there this season?
Obviously this will be my first Grand Prix there so there’s lots to think about. In particular, the circuit has been resurfaced so that’s an unknown – it might help us, it might not; we won’t know until we get there! New track surfaces are always a little bit of a venture into the unknown as you don’t know how much grip there will be, how the surface will evolve over the weekend and how the tyres will perform with the surface. Of course, a new surface doesn’t change the layout or make a significant difference to your approach to a particular circuit but nevertheless it does give an additional focus.
Are there any particular parts of the track which bring a smile to your face?
There’s not a particular section of the circuit which I’d pick out on its own, it’s more about how the entire circuit flows together and makes for an exciting lap. Once you brake for turn one you don’t get much respite until you’re back round again and on to the straight as all the corners flow together and come thick and fast. It’s fun to drive a lap, it’s good for racing, hopefully we can have some fun with the strategy and get a good result.
It’s tight and twisty but are there opportunities to overtake?
I’ve had some great racing there especially in the first sector. Braking into turn one is the main overtaking opportunity but there is opportunity to fight back straight after that corner so you can have some superb battles.
Your team-mate is always your best measure in motor racing; how do you think you’re measuring up against Kevin this season?
Obviously he’s got a bit more experience than me and he’s had a few of seasons working with a top team so he’s a good yardstick. It’s true he’s been just ahead of me in qualifying at many races but when you look at the actual lap times it’s so very close, we’re talking just a tenth or hundredths. Somehow it falls just so very slightly on Kev’s side. The races are often just as close and we’re often fighting for the same piece of track. This shows that we’re both generally getting the most out of the car for any given circumstance so this is beneficial for the team. I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to be the one who’s a tenth or so quicker in qualifying; maybe we can make that happen in Budapest.
How was testing at Silverstone? It got pretty hot at the end…
We did get through a good programme on Wednesday even if we were continually looking at the clouds and hoping they didn’t unleash their loads. We were looking at different aero parts and configurations as well as doing suspension comparisons. It’s not the most exciting work in the world and you’re aiming for comparable data rather than trying to set the world alight with the fastest lap of the day. Although we didn’t set the world alight with our lap time we did manage to set the car itself alight which certainly wasn’t part of the plan. It looks like it was a hydraulic leak but fortunately it was all under control pretty quickly. It happened on our final in-lap of the test so it didn’t affect our day’s programme however it did give the crew at the track and back at Enstone quite a bit of unexpected work to do afterwards!