Race Facts – Hungarian Grand Prix

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Let’s take a look at the history and facts of the Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix, which has been held at the Hungaroring circuit outside of Budapest every year since 1986. The race celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015.

The first Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix, held in August of 1986, was the culmination of Bernie Ecclestone’s desire for the sport to venture beyond the Iron Curtain. After considering Moscow, the initial Hungarian plan was for a race to be held on the streets of the capital Budapest.

In the end, the communist authorities in Hungary decided to construct a purpose-built track 19km outside of the capital. The Hungaroring circuit was completed in just eight months and the first race drew an estimated 200 000 fans from all over the Eastern Bloc.

The tight and twisty circuit is  located in a valley, which provides excellent visibility for fans – from higher vantage points, it’s possible to see around 80% of the circuit. At 4.381km, the Hungaroring is the third shortest Formula 1 circuit on the current calendar – only Monaco and Canada are shorter. It’s also the second slowest circuit after Monaco. The tight layout of the circuit makes overtaking difficult, one reason why many drivers and fans don’t rate the track highly.

The race is held each year at the height of the European summer, often in stifling heat. In 28 years, rain has only fallen during the race twice, in 2006 and 2011. Attendance figures are not provided for the race, as with many F1 destinations, but recent estimated race-day crowds have hovered around the 100 000 mark. When Robert Kubica was still racing, the Hungarian event became the defacto Polish Grand Prix, with as many as 25 000 Polish fans making the trip to the race each year. Hungary remains a popular F1 destination for fans from all over Europe.

A five-year contract extension was signed in 2013 which will guarantee the Hungaroring’s place on the Formula 1 calendar until at least 2021.

Did you know?

  • Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton jointly hold the record for most wins at the circuit with four apiece. Other multiple winners include Ayrton Senna (3 wins) and Nelson Piquet, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Mika Hakkinen and Jensen Button (2 wins each).
  • Sebastian Vettel has yet to win the Hungarian Grand Prix. The only other race on the current calendar he hasn’t won is new race in Russia.
  • In 29 years, the Hungarian Grand Prix has only been won from pole position twelve times.
  • Only one Hungarian driver has ever participated in Formula 1. Zsolt Baumgartner raced at his home Grand Prix in 2003 and 2004, for Jordan and Minardi respectively.
  • Felipe Massa was the victim of a freak accident during qualifying for the 2009 race. He was struck in the head by a suspension component which broke away from Rubens Barichello’s Brawn. Massa suffered a serious eye injury and was ruled out of racing for the remainder of the 2009 season.

Memorable Moments

  • Nigel Mansell secured his only World Driver’s Championship in 1992 at the Hungaroring with five races to spare. Michael Schumacher also won the championship at the circuit, his fourth, in 2001.
  • In 1997, driving the unfancied Arrows, Damon Hill came within three laps of a famous victory at the circuit, before a hydraulic issue forced him down to second.
  • Jensen Button won the 2006 race from fourteenth on the grid.

Hungaroring - key information at a glance

Circuit Name (type)Hungaroring (permanent)
First race (number of races held)1986 (30)
Track Length (number of turns)4.381km (14)
Race Distance70 laps / 306.630 km
Lap Record1:19.071, Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 2004
2015 result1st Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 1:46:09.985
2nd Daniil Kvyat (Red Bull) + 15.748
3rd Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) + 25.084
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About the Author ()

Andrew Balfour is the Founder and Editor of He originally hails from Adelaide, where he went to his first F1 race way back in 1987. He's been resident in Europe for almost 15 years and travels regularly to F1 races around the world.

Comments (3)

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  1. Shane Hughes says:

    Michael Schumacher was just awesome and his record will be unbeaten for many years..

  2. Flavius says:

    Seb Vettel won the US Grand Prix in 2013 at Austin.

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