PRIXVIEW – Hungarian Grand Prix

Features Prixview

Round three of the season takes Formula One to eastern Europe for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The race has been held near the village of Mogyoród eighteen kilometres from the countries capital since it became a round of the world championship in 1986, the first race behind the iron curtain.

The Hungaroring was built in just eight months, it is a circuit where downforce and grip are needed rather than straight-line speed. Bernie Ecclestone’s original idea was to build an Albert Park style street circuit in central Budapest, however, the government decided to build the circuit we see today.

The idea for an Albert Park style circuit could have been based on the first race held in 1936, around Népliget or People’s Park is the biggest public park in Budapest. That race was won by Alfa Romeo’s Tazio Nuvolari.

The circuit is located in a natural bowl, which doesn’t help with the heat and hot and dry summers. However, this circuit can be dusty and that means throughout the weekend the circuit gets quicker. This can lead to an exciting qualifying and drivers will leave it as late as possible to set their best lap time.

Often we say overtaking is difficult around the circuit meaning that strategy is crucial for the bigger teams. Thierry Boutsen demonstrated this in 1990, keeping his slower Williams car in front of championship leader Ayrton Senna, unable to find a way by.

Grid position is very important in Budapest; the circuit is twisty and tight as well as the conditions of the summer heat. Normally the race is the final race before the summer break, this often can throw up odd results and can give some great racing. The 1987 race saw a dramatic win for Nigel Mansell from twelfth after overtaking Ayrton Senna.

Speed isn’t always the most important thing in Budapest, the car with the best downforce and set up which can be victorious. Damon Hill, Fernando Alonso took there first wins in Budapest in slower cars. Heikki Kovalainen’s first win came here also in the McLaren in 2008, the Finn became the 100th different winner of a championship race.

Damon Hill, Fernando Alonso, Jenson and Kovalainen, who was the 100th different winner in F1, all took their first win in Hungary. Hill came close to winning again in 1997 with Arrows, but his car lost drive on the last lap causing him to coast in second place.

Also, Max Verstappen became the 100th different driver to take a pole position at a championship race last year. The Dutchman taking his maiden pole by ahead of Hamilton.

History has also been made here with Michael Schumacher, in 2001 the German equalled Alain Prost’s then-record fifty-one Grand Prix wins at the Hungaroring, in the drive which also secured his fourth Drivers’ Championship which also matched Prost’s career tally.

The 2006 Grand Prix was the first to be held here in wet conditions. Button took his first victory from 14th place on the grid, despite an accident packed race, Honda’s last win before Austria last year.

Lewis Hamilton took his first of seven wins in Hungary the following season, that race marked a breaking point in his relationship with teammate Alonso. During qualifying, the Spaniard held up Hamilton in the pit lane leaving the Englishman unable to set a time.

Hamilton would win again in difficult circumstances in 2009, his title rival from the previous season Felipe Massa was left in ITU after suffering a fractured skull from a crash in qualifying.

Can Hamilton extend his position as master of Hungary as he looks for his eighth win in Budapest, to jointly hold the record of most wins at the same Grand Prix and circuit with Michael Schumacher? Also, can he maintain the stat of always having his first win in or before Budapest?

Facts and figures

Round 03 of 19
Race Aramco Magyar Nagydij 2020
Venue Hungaroring, Mogyoród, Hungary
Circuit Length 4.381 km (2.722 mi)
Laps 70
Race Distance 306.630 km (190.531 mi)
Lap Record 01:17.103 (Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB15, 2019)
Most wins drivers Lewis Hamilton (7)
Most wins manufacture McLaren (11)

Fast facts

  • Budapest comes from the combining of the cities of Buda and Pest in 1873 the cities where divided by the Dabue River and became the capital of Hungary. Budapest also became the co-capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a great power that dissolved in 1918, following World War I.
  • Lewis Hamilton has always won a race before Hungary if he hasn’t won a race in that season his first win of the season has been in Budapest.
  • Robert Kubica is the only driver to have been disqualified from a race at the Hungaroring. On his race debut, the Polish driver finished seventh but was later disqualified as his car was 2kg underweight.
  • While many drivers can boast a 100% finish rate at the Hungaroring, it’s Ralf Schumacher’s run which is the most impressive. He finished the race on all ten of his Hungarian Grand Prix appearances.

Event timetable

Session

Local

BST

Friday

P1 11:00-12:30 10:00-11:30
P2 15:00-16:30 14:00-15:30

Saturday

P3 12:00-13:00 11:00-12:00
Qualifying 15:00-16:00 14:00-15:00

Sunday

Race 15:10 14:10

What happened in 2019?

Conditions were wet for qualifying day’s later in Budapest, this created a close fight between Verstappen and the Mercedes. The three drivers were just a few thousandths apart, Ferrari dropped away. Verstappen pulled out a hundredth off a second to pip Bottas, securing his first pole position. Honda’s first since Melbourne 2006, Leclerc survived a spin early on in Q1 at the final corner to out-qualify Vettel.

Verstappen converted his pole into the lead, leaving Hamilton to chase after him. The Mercedes driver used a strategy which he wasn’t entirely comfortable with, to hold on to the lead as his tyres wared off. The team had it right and he closed the gap, before taking the victory.

Ferrari meanwhile struggled to find the pace of the leaders, dropping a minute behind the leaders. Vettel took third away from his teammate Leclerc, it was a devastating day for the Scuderia, who finished a minute behind Hamilton.

Sainz matched up to McLaren’s performance in qualifying, taking fifth withstanding the pressure of Gasly in the other Red Bull to finish fifth for the second race in a row. Teammate Norris was caught out by a bad pit stop after the team couldn’t attach the rear tyre and that dropped him behind Gasly

Race Result – 1) L. Hamilton, Mercedes, 01:35:03.76990, 2) M. Verstappen, Red Bull – Honda, +17.796, 3) S. Vettel, Ferrari, +01:01.433

What to watch for?

The Hungaroring is typically a very different circuit to the Red Bull Ring, its low speed and high downforce. We normally see this race as one where the form guide goes out of the window, it is expected that Mercedes will be strong in Austria and this race will prove if they have a good car.

This could be another historic weekend for Lewis Hamilton, he will be looking to take his eighth win at this Grand Prix. This will mean he will equal Michael Schumacher’s record of most wins at same Grand Prix and Circuit. There’s something about the Hungaroring which they will want to do.

This weekend marks the 1,000th race for Ferrari in Formula One, the team will naturally want a good result to celebrate the milestone. Of these early races and based primarily on testing, you need to need to believe that they remain behind. They come into this race after a difficult weekends in Spielberg where the failed to get decent points.

McLaren are emerging as the team to beat in the midfield, the team must now be targeting third with the weak Ferrari. They scored thirty-nine points across the two weekends in Spielberg, we are yet to see how the teams fair on a low-speed high downforce circuit. This race is going to give a better understanding of how the teams are really performing.

2018 vs 2019 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap

2019

01:17.233 01:17.854 01:16.084 01:15.817 01:15.548 01:14.572 01:35:03.796 01:17.103

Diff

-0.210 +1.016 -0.086 -0.849 -13.088 -20.087 -02:13.369 -03.111

2018

01:17.613 01:16.834 01:16.170 01:16.666 01:28.636 01:35.659 01:37:16.427 01:20.012

Tyres

White Hard (C2)

Yellow Medium (C3)

Red Soft (C4)

Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.