CIRCUIT GUIDE: Hungaroring
LOCATION: Mogyoród, near Budapest
KNOWN FOR: Formula One
The first thing to say about the Hungaroring is that it can be phenomenally dull; at least it could be up until last year. For most of its 25-year history on the calendar, the tight and twisting bowl-shaped track on the outskirts of Budapest came with the unlovely reputation of regularly hosting complete snoozefests. Overtaking was impossible on the narrow track, so much so that in 1989, Thierry Boutsen scored the last of three F1 wins by basically making his slower Williams as wide as possible in order to frustrate the much faster Ayrton Senna. He managed that very successfully and into the bargain frustrated the hell out of everyone watching.
It all changed last year, however. The advent of degradation-prone Pirellis, DRS, KERS and, it has to be said a track made slippery by intermittent rain, meant that there were a whopping 54 successful overtaking moves at the Hungaroring last year. Depending on the weather we could be in for more of the same this year. At the moment the long-range forecast is suggesting sunny and hot conditions on Friday and Saturday but rain and cooler temperatures of 21°C are currently predicted for race day.
As for the circuit itself, it’s more like a go-kart track than anything else. Comprised of 14 corners and not much else, it only really has one straight that can legitimately call itself such – the stretch past the pits.
With an average speed of approximately 190kph it’s pretty similar to Monaco and as such requires a high downforce set-up and the teams will run as much wings as possible to get the best aero grip around the snaking track. However, you also need good mechanical grip and that’s not always easily found here. The circuit is rarely used for anything apart from track days, so the grip levels are pretty poor on grand prix Friday. It does improve across the weekend but that makes the perfect set-up a moving target.
The Hungaroring is located beside the town of Mogyoród, about 20km to the north east of Budapest. Unlike other races where the distance from the city and traffic means it’s easier to stay close to the track, there’s no need for that here. Traffic to and from the city is never really a problem and there is absolutely nothing to recommend a stay in the environs of Mogyoród (aside from the Aquapark across the valley from the track, where you can enjoy a cool down from the often relentless midsummer Hungarian heat). Better to stay in Budapest, which frankly, is a brilliant town. There are some fantastic sightseeing opportunities, ample decent hotels, the restaurants and bars are great, and the nightlife is superb. It is definitely one of those race cities capable of providing a very lost weekend.
It’s Formula One or nothing here, really. The circuit is used for track days and the occasional demo or motoring-related function but F1 is the only major racing series to visit the Budapest track.
DID YOU KNOW?
This edition of the Hungarian Grand Prix will see the race move to joint 13th on the list of most frequently held races. This 27th running of the race in Budapest will see the event move ahead of Austria, which hosted 26 races between 1963 and 2003. The Hungarian GP will briefly pull level with the Japanese GP, though that will obviously take sole ownership of 13th spot at Suzuka, in the 2012 edition of the race in October. The usual suspects top the list, with the British GP in first with 63 events, though it will share the top slot with Italy come the GP at Monza in September. After that, it’s Monaco and Germany, on 59, France, on 58, and Belgium will reach 57 at the end of August.
Race distance: 70 laps (306.630km)
Start time: 14.00 (CET)
Circuit length: 4.381km
2011 winner: Jenson Button (McLaren); 60 laps in 1hr 46m 42.337s (172.416kph)
2011 pole: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing); 1m 19.815s (197.601kph)
Lap record: Michael Schumacher (Ferrari); 1m 19.071s (199.461kph)
- Get the official Vettel and Webber team kit from the Bull Shop
- Visit the official Formula 1 website
- Search for Formula 1 videos on YouTube
- Visit Red Bull Racing