Hungaroring: The Ultimate Track Guide

When F1 arrives in Hungary, there’s usually an end of term feeling as the Hungaroring hosts the final race before the summer break. Held at the height of the European summer, this relatively slow but technical track has served up some intriguing races for the past three decades.


FIRST F1 RACE1986
TRACK LENGTH2.722 miles
NUMBER OF LAPS70
NUMBER OF TURNS14
MOST POLESMichael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton (7)
MOST WINSLewis Hamilton (8)

The Hungaroring is located twelve miles to the north-east of Budapest. After plans for a race in Moscow fell through, Bernie Ecclestone brought the series to Budapest instead and the race made history by being the first to be held behind the Iron Curtain. A city street race was mooted but the communist government instead wanted a new track, and so one was built within eight months. The circuit was designed by Istvan Papp.

The winner of the first ever Grand Prix in 1906 was the Hungarian driver Ferenc Szisz. Hungary’s motorsport history goes back to 1936, when a Hungarian Grand Prix was first held in Nepliget. It had 100,000 spectators, which is an impressive figure for that time. With the onset of World War II, focus shifted away from racing, and there was not another Hungarian Grand Prix until F1 came to Budapest in 1986. The inaugural event was attended by 200,000 fans.

The circuit is tight and twisty and it’s difficult to overtake, so the track has taken a reputation of producing somewhat boring racing. In recent years, however, the races have been more entertaining. The circuit isn’t used too often throughout the year, so it is usually dusty when the cars take to the track at the start of the first practice session. What the track lacks in overtaking opportunities, it more than makes up for that with its setting. The Hungaroring is one of the best of the year for spectators to attend as there’s good viewing right around the track, due to the track being in a valley.

The Hungaroring hasn’t changed much through the years. One of the S bends was changed in 1989, shortening the track by a small amount, and in 2003, the main straight was extended by twenty metres. In 2016, the track was resurfaced and had new kerbing. There were also new run-off areas. The Hungaroring holds a contract to host the Hungarian Grand Prix until 2026.


FAST FACTS

  • Until 2006 there had never been a wet Grand Prix in Hungary. The rain in 2006 aided Jenson Button to his first victory from 14th on the grid.
  • Despite the lack of overtaking, less than half of the thirty Hungarian Grands Prix have been won from pole.
  • Due to under-use, the track is often slippery at the beginning of the weekend. Parts of the track that are off the racing line can remain slippery throughout the event.
  • McLaren are the most successful team here, having won eleven Hungarian Grands Prix.
  • Turn Four is the quickest on the track, taken at 132mph while Turn One is the slowest, taken at just 58mph. Twelve of the fourteen corners are taken at low-ish speed, which gives an advantage to cars with better mechanical grip.
  • The largest winning margin here was Damon Hill’s 72 second lead in 1993.
  • 44% of the lap is spent at full throttle.
  • Zsolt Baumgartner is the only Hungarian driver to have competed in his home Grand Prix.
  • The track has crowned two F1 champions over its history. In 1992, Nigel Mansell won the title here and in 2001 Michael Schumacher took the championship victory here.

2021 HUNGARIAN GP RECAP

Esteban Ocon took his maiden Formula 1 win at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix in a thrilling wet weather race.

Only nineteen drivers competed in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix following a heavy crash for Mick Schumacher in Free Practice 3. Carlos Sainz suffered a crash in Q2 and was unable to progress to the final stage of qualifying. Lewis Hamilton took pole position as Mercedes locked out the front row.

On Sunday, the race began in damp conditions, with Valtteri Bottas making a slow start which dropped him to fifth. Bottas then lost control at the first turn and smashed into the McLaren and two Red Bulls in front of him. Chaos ensued, with Lance Stroll missing his braking point and taking out the other McLaren and Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari. The race was red-flagged as a result, with no fewer than five drivers retiring.

As the red flag period ended, the weather had dried up. The drivers took to the track and almost every driver decided to pit for slick tyres ahead of the race. Everyone, that was, apart from Hamilton, who lined up on his own on the starting grid. The race resumed, with Hamilton soon deciding he was on the wrong tyre. His pit stop gave the race lead to Esteban Ocon. Nikita Mazepin was added to the list of retirements following a collision in the pit lane with Kimi Raikkonen.

Both Hamilton on his new tyres and Max Verstappen with damage sustained on the opening lap were left to fight through the field for the rest of the race. Verstappen fought back to ninth, while Hamilton was charging. His storming drive was slowed by Fernando Alonso, who was keen to hold his former team-mate back in order to help Ocon maintain his lead. Hamilton eventually found his way by and went about overtaking Carlos Sainz for third place.

Ocon himself came under pressure from Sebastian Vettel, but the Aston Martin driver was unable to find a way past. Ocon secured his maiden Grand Prix victory and Hamilton was promoted into second place following Vettel’s post race disqualification for failing to provide a fuel sample. It saw Sainz take the final podium place.

2020 HUNGARIAN GP RECAP

Lewis Hamilton took a record-equalling eighth Hungarian Grand Prix victory, as Max Verstappen recovered from a near-calamitous pre-race error.

There was drama before the lights went out at the Hungarian Grand Prix as, in damp conditions, Max Verstappen crashed on his way to the grid. Luckily, the Dutchman was able to get his car to the grid and his mechanics fixed the suspension damage just in time. On the formation lap, both Haas drivers pulled into the pits to switch to dry tyres – attempting to get an advantage on the drying track. Lewis Hamilton started from pole position and maintained his advantage on the opening lap as team-mate Valtteri Bottas had a poor start, being overtaken by five cars. The Finn soon pitted for dry tyres, as did most of the field. That allowed the Haas drivers to climb up to third and fourth having pitted prior to the race start. A busy pit lane led to damage for Nicholas Latifi, who had to pit again after contact with Carlos Sainz at the pit exit gave him a puncture. The rest of the race passed without much in the way of incidents. Charles Leclerc had close encounters with Bottas and Lando Norris while Latifi suffered a further spin. Hamilton had enough of an advantage over Verstappen to pit again for soft tyres and take the Fastest Lap of the race. He led the Red Bull driver home by almost nine seconds, while Bottas challenged Verstappen in the closing stages but was unable to pass. After the race, both Haas drivers were handed ten second penalties for breaching the rules on the formation lap.

2019 HUNGARIAN GP RECAP

Max Verstappen took the first pole position of his career, but couldn’t resist a late race charge from Lewis Hamilton, who took his seventh Hungarian Grand Prix victory.

Saturday in Budapest saw Max Verstappen secure the first pole position of his career, much to the delight of his contingent of Dutch fans in the grandstands. He started alongside Valtteri Bottas on the front row, with the Red Bull maintaining the advantage after going three-wide with the two Mercedes into Turn 1. Bottas locked up at the next corner, and Hamilton passed him for second place. Charles Leclerc also passed Bottas, the two making slight contact and the Finn requiring a change of front wing. The Mercedes driver eventually finished the race in a relatively lowly eighth place. Lap 18 saw an epic wheel to wheel battle between the two Toro Rossos, Daniil Kvyat ultimately winning that fight. Verstappen was first of the frontrunners to pit, and held a six second lead over Hamilton after both had pitted. Hamilton had closed in on the back of Verstappen by Lap 38, but failed to successfully pass the Dutchman. Instead, Mercedes opted for a different approach and pitted Hamilton. On fresh medium compound tyres, Hamilton began to reel in the Red Bull, as Verstappen admitted his tyres were “dead” on Lap 63. Four laps later, Hamilton made his way past into the lead, with Verstappen unable to stop him. Hamilton celebrated his seventh victory in Hungary, while the two Ferrari drivers fought in the closing stages, with Sebastian Vettel overtaking Leclerc for the final podium spot. Verstappen pitted for fresh tyres and secured the additional point for Fastest Lap.

2018 HUNGARIAN GP RECAP

On a weekend where Ferrari had been expected to excel, Lewis Hamilton dominated both a wet qualifying session and the Grand Prix.

The Qualifying hour on Saturday was frantic due to the weather conditions. Lewis Hamilton took pole in the wet weather, with his team-mate starting alongside him on the front row. Ferrari had looked the stronger team throughout the practice sessions, but were on the back foot after the mixed conditions of the qualifying session. The Mercedes stayed ahead on the opening lap, as Sebastian Vettel overtook his team-mate for third. Max Verstappen was out on the sixth lap with power unit issues, while his team-mate got up to fifth with impressive overtakes on Kevin Magnussen and Pierre Gasly, having started from twelfth on the grid. A slow pit stop cost Vettel, as he emerged from the pits behind Valtteri Bottas. Vettel attempted an overtake on Bottas in the closing stages, but the move ended in contact. The Mercedes driver continued on a warpath as he slid into the side of Daniel Ricciardo at the first turn, eventually being forced to concede his fourth position. Hamilton dominated the race, winning by almost twenty seconds. The two Ferrari drivers finished alongside him on the podium.


HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX WINNERS AND POLESITTERS

YearPolesitterTeam On PoleWinnerWinning Team
1986Ayrton SennaLotusNelson PiquetWilliams
1987Nigel MansellWilliamsNelson PiquetWilliams
1988Ayrton SennaMcLarenAyrton SennaMcLaren
1989Riccardo PatreseWilliamsNigel MansellFerrari
1990Thierry BoutsenWilliamsThierry BoutsenWilliams
1991Ayrton SennaMcLarenAyrton SennaMcLaren
1992Riccardo PatreseWilliamsAyrton SennaMcLaren
1993Alain ProstWilliamsDamon HillWilliams
1994Michael SchumacherBenettonMichael SchumacherBenetton
1995Damon HillWilliamsDamon HillWilliams
1996Michael SchumacherFerrariJacques VilleneuveWilliams
1997Michael SchumacherFerrariJacques VilleneuveWilliams
1998Mika HäkkinenMcLarenMichael SchumacherFerrari
1999Mika HäkkinenMcLarenMika HäkkinenMcLaren
2000Michael SchumacherFerrariMika HäkkinenMcLaren
2001Michael SchumacherFerrariMichael SchumacherFerrari
2002Rubens BarrichelloFerrariRubens BarrichelloFerrari
2003Fernando AlonsoRenaultFernando AlonsoRenault
2004Michael SchumacherFerrariMichael SchumacherFerrari
2005Michael SchumacherFerrariKimi RaikkonenMcLaren
2006Kimi RaikkonenMcLarenJenson ButtonHonda
2007Lewis HamiltonMcLarenLewis HamiltonMcLaren
2008Lewis HamiltonMcLarenHeikki KovalainenMcLaren
2009Fernando AlonsoRenaultLewis HamiltonMcLaren
2010Sebastian VettelRed BullMark WebberRed Bull
2011Sebastian VettelRed BullJenson ButtonMcLaren
2012Lewis HamiltonMcLarenLewis HamiltonMcLaren
2013Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2014Nico RosbergMercedesDaniel RicciardoRed Bull
2015Lewis HamiltonMercedesSebastian VettelFerrari
2016Nico RosbergMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2017Sebastian VettelFerrariSebastian VettelFerrari
2018Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2019Max VerstappenRed BullLewis HamiltonMercedes
2020Lewis HamiltonMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes
2021Lewis HamiltonMercedesEsteban OconAlpine
2022George RussellMercedesMax VerstappenRed Bull

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