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.

  • The 2024 Hungarian Grand Prix runs from July 19-21 at the Hungaroring
  • This post contains affiliate links. We may receive a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links

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. Since the race was first held over thirty years ago, rain has only fallen during the race three times, in 2006, 2011 and 2014; while the 2020 race began in damp conditions. 

Estimated race-day crowds hovered around the 100,000 mark in the 2010s. 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 compared to the previous year. The Hungarian Grand Prix attracted a weekend crowd of 290,000 in 2022, before rising to 303,000 in 2023

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. The contract was extended to 2027 in June 2020, due to the 2020 race being held without spectators. The contract was extended once more ahead of the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix. The Hungaroring will now remain on the calendar until at least 2032, with the venue set to undergo major renovations in the coming years. 

The 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix was moved forward two weeks from its provisional date and held behind closed doors as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It was won by Lewis Hamilton, who secured a record-breaking eighth win at the venue. One year later, with fans back in the stands, Esteban Ocon secured his maiden Grand Prix victory in a chaotic wet to dry race. Max Verstappen has been the Hungarian Grand Prix winner in the last two seasons. 

Hungarian Grand Prix: Did You Know?

  • Lewis Hamilton has won more Hungarian Grands Prix than any other driver, with his tally currently at eight. That’s a shared record for the most wins at a single circuit. Michael Schumacher also won eight times at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours during his career. 
  • Hamilton holds the record for most poles at the track, having taken his ninth Hungarian Grand Prix pole in 2023. It’s the record for the most pole positions at a single venue. 
  • McLaren have enjoyed more wins at the Hungarian Grand Prix than any other team, with 11.
  • Jenson Button took his first F1 victory at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix, winning the race from 14th on the grid. At the time, it was one of only two times that the race had been won from further back than fourth on the grid, the other being Nigel Mansell in 1989. Since then, Esteban Ocon won from eighth on the grid in 2021, while Max Verstappen won from 10th in 2022. 
  • Aside from Button, Damon Hill, Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen and Esteban Ocon all took their first F1 victories at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
  • The Hungaroring has seen F1 reach two century milestones. Heikki Kovalainen became the 100th F1 driver to win a World Championship Grand Prix here in 2008, while Max Verstappen became the 100th driver to start from pole at a Grand Prix at the 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix.

READ MORE: When Op Art Met Formula 1 at the First Race Behind the Iron Curtain

  • 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. Kevin Magnussen has made eight appearances here so far in his career without recording a retirement.
  • In every season from 2005 to 2017, the winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix failed to go on to win the Drivers’ Championship. In fact, in its history there have been only 11 occasions where the winner of the event has won the title in the same year.
  • Zsolt Baumgartner is the only Hungarian driver to have competed in the Hungarian Grand Prix since it joined the F1 calendar in 1986.
  • Two drivers have been disqualified from the Hungarian Grand Prix. Robert Kubica, on his Grand Prix debut, finished seventh but was later disqualified as his car was 2kg underweight. Sebastian Vettel was disqualified having finished second in 2021 as his car was unable to supply a fuel sample. 
  • Ferrari have been present at every Hungarian Grand Prix since 1986, but it took until 1999 for both of their cars to reach the chequered flag in the same race here!
  • Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher are the only drivers to have claimed a World Championship in Hungary. Mansell took his only title at the track in 1992, while Schumacher took his fourth at the 2001 event.
  • 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 Barrichello’s Brawn GP car. Massa suffered a serious eye injury and was ruled out of racing for the remainder of the 2009 season.

Memorable Moments in the Hungarian Grand Prix

1986 Hungarian Grand Prix: 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!

READ MORE: When Formula 1 ventured behind the Iron Curtain

Nigel Mansell Hungaroring

1992 Hungarian Grand Prix: 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. Watch the highlights.

1997 Hungarian Grand Prix: A Mirace 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. Watch the higlights.

2006 Hungarian Grand Prix: 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. Watch the highlights.

2007 Hungarian Grand Prix: 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.

2021 Hungarian Grand Prix: Ocon wins in the wet

The 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix began in damp conditions and the red flag was soon shown as Valtteri Bottas caused chaos at Turn 1. The chain reaction of events eliminated no fewer than five drivers from the race.

The track dried out over the red flag period, leading to a strange situation where every driver except one pulled into the pits at the end of the second formation lap to switch to slick tyres. Lewis Hamilton was the driver who did not follow suit and he took the standing start on his own. 

When Hamilton pitted, Esteban Ocon took the lead of the race. The Alpine driver would remain there, despite coming under increasing pressure from Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton’s comeback drive meant that he too was a threat in the closing stages, but Ocon’s Alpine team-mate Fernando Alonso slowed Hamilton’s charge with some impressive defensive skills. 

Ocon claimed the first victory of his career and the Enstone team’s first win since 2013. He became the first French driver to win with a French team using a French engine since Alain Prost, who did so with Renault at the 1983 Austrian Grand Prix.

READ MORE: Selected Stories from 35 years of the Hungarian Grand Prix

Hungaroring Facts

Circuit NameHungaroring
Track Length4.381km (14 turns)
Race Distance70 laps (306.630 km)
Lap Record1:16.627, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), 2020
2023 result1st Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:38:08.634
2nd Lando Norris (McLaren) +33.731s
3rd Sergio Perez (Red Bull) +37.603s

4 thoughts on “Race Facts – Hungarian Grand Prix”

Leave a Comment

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

Recent Post

Readers’ Experiences at Suzuka – 2024 Japanese Grand Prix

Trackside at Circuit de Monaco – 2024 Monaco Grand Prix

Adam’s Travel Report – 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix

RANKED: The Best Value For Money F1 Races To Attend

Do Formula 1 Circuits Offer Guided Tours?

Trackside at Autodromo Imola – 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

Trackside at the Red Bull Ring – 2024 Austrian Grand Prix