Race Facts – Hungarian Grand Prix

The only Formula 1 race to be held behind the Iron Curtain, the Hungarian Grand Prix has been staged at the Hungaroring circuit outside of Budapest every year since 1986.

Please Note: The 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix on July 17-19 will be held behind closed doors and without spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic. 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, twisty Hungaroring 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 and the second slowest 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 three times, in 2006, 2011 and 2014. Estimated race-day crowds have hovered around the 100 000 mark in recent years. During Robert Kubica’s first stint in F1, 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. With his return to the grid in 2019, the figure once again grew by around 20 000. Hungary remains a popular F1 destination for fans from all over Europe. A contract extension was signed in 2016 which guaranteed the Hungaroring’s place on the Formula 1 calendar until at least 2026 – this has now been extended to 2027 due to this year’s race being held without spectators.

Memorable Moments in the Hungarian Grand Prix

1986: Piquet overtakes Senna: Nelson Piquet passed Ayrton Senna around the outside of Turn 1 (on opposite lock!) on his way to victory in the inaugural Hungarian Grand Prix in 1986. Many consider this to be one of the best overtakes of all time!

1992: Finally Mansell: After years of almost clinching the championship, Nigel Mansell finally secured the title in 1992 at the Hungaroring with five races to spare. Mansell finished a distant second to Ayrton Senna in the race, but it was all he needed to do to become the seventh British World Champion.

1997: A miracle for Hill: 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. The Arrows car was both uncompetitive and unreliable, but that didn’t stop the reigning champion from comfortably leading the race. With his failing car, Hill was passed on the penultimate lap by former team-mate Jacques Villeneuve. Despite the disappointment, Hill secured the final podium finish for the Arrows marque.

2006: Button’s first win: Jenson Button won the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix from fourteenth on the grid. The 2006 race was the first at the Hungaroring to be held in wet conditions. Title rivals Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso also started from the lower half of the grid along with Button. The trio’s fight through the field supplied much of the afternoon’s entertainment, but both Alonso and Schumacher ultimately retired from the race. Button kept his cool, and even carried out a courageous overtake on Schumacher, to claim his maiden win. It was the final victory for a Honda-powered car until Max Verstappen won the 2019 Austrian Grand Prix.

2007: Qualifying drama: All the headlines from the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix came from qualifying. Lewis Hamilton failed to let McLaren team-mate Fernando Alonso by on track. The Spaniard retaliated by tactically stopping in the McLaren pit box as Hamilton waited behind him. Alonso waited for long enough to prevent Hamilton from setting a lap time, thus ensuring pole would be his. It was Hamilton was eventually awarded pole, as Alonso received a five-place grid penalty for the incident.

Hungaroring Facts

Circuit NameHungaroring
Track Length4.381km (14 turns)
Race Distance70 laps (306.630 km)
Lap Record1:19.071, Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 2004
2019 result1st Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:35:03.796
2nd Max Verstappen (Red Bull) + 17.796s
3rd Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +1:01.433s

4 thoughts on “Race Facts – Hungarian Grand Prix”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *