PRIXVIEW – Hungarian Grand Prix

Features Testing & Race Reports

Round eleven and the final race before the summer break takes F1 to the village of Mogyoród eleven miles from the city of Budapest for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Hungaroring traditionally marks the start of the summer break, after joining the calendar in 1986.

However, Budapest held its first Grand Prix in 1936 in the Népliget or People’s Park is the biggest public park in Budapest. That race was won by Alfa Romeo’s Tazio Nuvolari. Originally the idea was to revive that circuit for 1989, but that idea never took off. Instead, the Hungaroring was designed to give the challenge of a street circuit.

The 2.7mi circuit is tight, narrow and twisty, which has earned it the nickname ‘Monaco without the barriers, although in the mid-2010s overtaking has increased, these wider cars still present a challenge for drivers to overtake. Thierry Boutsen demonstrated this in 1990, keeping his slower Williams car in front of championship leader Ayrton Senna, unable to find a way by.

This circuit isn’t used as much as many other in Europe, meaning it can take some time for it to clean up. You could say that this is very much like a street circuit in its character as we know drivers are going to need to be warry off in qualifying, but the weekend could provide opportunities for those in the midfield battle.

This makes qualifying even more important, this is a circuit that requires driveability, high downforce, and cornering. Meaning it can throw up odd results occasionally but like with many circuits of its nature strategy plays an important role in deciding the outcome of this race.

However, Sir Lewis Hamilton demonstrated it is not impossible, coming from the pit lane to finish third in 2014. The Englishman is the most successful driver in Budapest, he has won six races in his career. The current regulations also don’t help, as we saw at Silverstone, getting in the dirty air means it can make following difficult.

In this year’s championship, there has been close racing between Hamilton, looking to surpass his joint record with Michael Schumacher of eight wins at the same race, and his championship rival Max Verstappen. This race you need to believe they will again be wheel to wheel.

History has also been made here with 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.

However, Hamilton knows that Red Bull and even Ferrari could be a threat at this low-speed circuit, qualifying could be important as we know in dirty air these cars aren’t good at following. But it is a circuit that can throw up odd results because of the low speed nature and the fact overtaking can be challenging.

But following Hamilton and Verstappen’s coming together at Silverstone both drivers will be hungry for a good weekend in Budapest, the weekend should give both drivers the chance to score points. This looks to be a Red Bull track, as they know this season is close between themselves and Mercedes.

Hamilton is the most successful driver in Budapest, he holds the record for both poles and wins. This circuit really seems to suit his driving style, its one where you need to attack and go for moves to make up positions, tyre wear could be an issue because of the heat and dusty nature of the circuit means track overtaking can be difficult.

The nature of the Hungaroring means that surprise results can be thrown up, we have seen several drivers take their maiden wins in Budapest Damon Hill, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and Kovalainen, who was the 100th different winner in F1. Button’s win in 2006 from fourteenth, is the lowest starting position that this race has been won from.

Facts and figures

Round 11 of 24
Race Formula 1 Magyar Nagydij 2021
Venue Hungaroring, Mogyoród, Hungary
Configuration 2003
Circuit Length 4.381 km (2.722 mi)
Laps 70
Race Distance 306.630 km (190.531 mi)
Lap Record Race 01:16.627 (Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance, 2020)
Outright 01:13.447 (Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG F1 W11 EQ Performance, 2020)
Most wins drivers Sir Lewis Hamilton (8)
Most wins manufacture McLaren (11)

Fast facts

  • 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.
  • Budapest comes from the combining of the cities of Buda and Pest in 1873 the cities were 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.
  • The track is built in a natural bowl, a bit like the UK’s Brands Hatch. That means that any of the grandstands located on or around the main straight should provide a view of other parts of the track too.

Event timetable

Session

Local

BST

Friday

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

Saturday

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

Sunday

Race 15:00 14:00

What happened in 2020?

Sir Lewis Hamilton took his ninetieth career pole position after beating Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas by a tenth.  Hamilton had led the way through qualifying, he had gone four-tenths faster on his first run, but while Bottas managed to close the gap he was still a tenth behind.

Mercedes power certainly had the upper hand, the Racing Points locked out the second row Lance Stroll was third going nine tenths slower than the Mercedes and over a tenth quicker than teammate Sergio Perez.

Hamilton went onto dominate the race taking his eighth win in Budapest ahead of Max Verstappen by eight seconds. His advantage allowed him to pit to go after fastest lap, as he became the second driver in the sport’s history to win eight times at the same race. Verstappen making a lighting start to get into third by the end of the race.

Lance Stroll continued Racing Points strong start to the season taking fourth. The Canadian taking his best result since joining his father’s team at the beginning of 2019. Finishing ahead of Alex Albon, finishing fifth after overtaking Sebastian Vettel, the only Ferrari to finish the race in the points as their difficult season continued.

Race Result – 1) L. Hamilton, Mercedes, 01:36:12.473, 2) M. Verstappen, Red Bull – Honda, +8.702, 3) V. Bottas, Mercedes, +9.702

What to watch for?

This weekend marks the final race before the summer break, so all the teams will want to go into the break off the back of a strong weekend. The focus will however remain on the battle between Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, they both need to bounce back from the collision on the opening at Silverstone. Hamilton is an expert here he holds the record for wins and pole positions.

But we know that Red Bull believes following the team win in Le Castellet, they can now beat Mercedes everywhere. Again, I think qualifying could be another close one as it could be about the final run in Q3, this circuit we know evolves through out the weekend and that is because it is not used as much as other circuits in Europe.

Ferrari could be the team to watch in the midfield they went well in Monaco and are currently locked in a battle for third with McLaren. The team are making great progress and have even had a pole position in Monaco, but it will be harder than then because as we always say that the circuit stands on its own. Alpine had a good weekend in Silverstone, Fernando Alonso in the sprint qualifying making the lighting start.

I think this circuit is close to Imola in terms of characteristics, and we know that Williams went well. George Russell went well at these high-speed circuits despite the team not expecting to, I have to say I think this could be a race where they should do well after being in Q2 at most races, and this should be an opportunity for them.

The next circuit like this you need to believe is possibly Zandvoort in two races time, but we are still yet to draw that conclusion. Personally I think Budapest is one of those circuits which is difficult to predict as it often stands out as an odd result race, in terms of the midfield more results, but given the performance of Red Bull and Mercedes

2019 vs 2020 Race Data

P1 Fastest

P2 Fastest

P3 Fastest

Q1 Fastest

Q2 Fastest

Q3 Fastest

Race Time

Fastest Lap

2020

01:16.003 01:40.464 01:15.437 01:14.681 01:14.261 01:13.447 01:36.12.473 01:16.627

Diff

-1.230 -22.61 -0.453 -1.136 -1.287 -1.125 -01: 09.323 -0.472

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

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.