Trip Report – 2011 Hungarian F1 Grand Prix in Budapest

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Alice West booked a mini break to Budapest with her husband Ed to celebrate their first wedding anniversary in 2011. And being die-hard F1 fans, it would’ve been rude not to take in the Hungarian Grand Prix while they were there. Happily for these McLaren suppporters it was Jenson Button’s 200th race that weekend… and he won!

Was it easy to get to the track from downtown Budapest?

Very! Your F1 ticket gets you free access to the shuttle buses that depart central Budapest through the day, and take you back into the city until the early evening. The journey took about forty minutes as Hungaroring is only twenty miles or so from the city.

We did find that buses coming back were pretty crowded so we took the train back from the circuit on quali day. Train and metro travel is cheap but make sure you get your ticket stamped on entry through the turnstiles or you’ll face a hefty fine when you come out of the station… like we did!

Where did you watch the action from trackside?

hungaroring 1We got Silver 8 tickets which were the cheapest option but by no means an inferior spot – it’s situated between turns six and seven – a wicked chicane with a big TV screen right opposite. We witnessed some great spins and overtakes here. Silver 8 is a bit of a walk from where the buses drop you, so bring comfy shoes and expect for it to take a good twenty minutes, some of it uphill. What’s great about this, though, is that the atmosphere outside the track is buzzing and you can stop for drinks and food on the way. Merchandise stalls are also set up outside so you can grab all your gear before you head in.

Seating was reserved on the Sunday but on the preceding days you could sit where you wanted within your sector. Beware that Hungaroring isn’t like Silverstone and you can’t move freely around the track without showing your pass every time you enter a new seating zone. That said, re-entry is allowed so you can pop out to get food and coffee if the pricey options trackside don’t float your boat.

What else is there to do at Hungaroring?

hungaroring 3We didn’t come up for the Friday practice sessions as we wanted to take in the city sights, but the organisers do open the track up straight after the race finishes on the Sunday, so we were able to walk all the way round to the grid at a leisurely pace, and we even managed to bump into Jake Humphrey, Eddie Jordan and Martin Brundle interviewing British fans on the way.

As I said before, the atmosphere outside the track is great and you can definitely spend some time here having a drink and a bite to eat before the racing begins.

Any tips for fans planning a trip to Hungaroring in 2014?

Book a flight and hotel package with Lastminute.com. We paid around £350 each for EasyJet flights to Budapest and five nights’ 4* accommodation at the Mercure Hotel in Buda – the older part of the city. On reflection we reckon it would’ve been more fun to stay in Pest where there are more bars and restaurants, but Buda is pretty and has supermarkets, tourist spots and places to eat nearby. Stay near the river and you’ll get the best of both worlds.

We booked our tickets with BookF1.com and got a superb secure service from them. Silver 8 tickets are around £145 for the weekend and sell out quickly, so plan ahead!

hungaroriing 4

Alice with Heikki Kovalainen

People carriers take tourists from the airport to their chosen destination in the city for around £20 each return. Keep hold of your receipt and give it to your hotel reception staff the day before you travel home. They’ll book your car for you.

Finally, order a lanyard with your tickets to hang around your neck. You’ll get tired of digging it out of her pocket every time you want to pass between gates otherwise!

One last tip: go out for dinner one night by the river in Pest, overlooking the chain bridge. It’s a wonderful spot for some goulash and a beer, and the bridge is lit up beautifully by night. You never know who you might bump into…

Photos courtesy Alice West

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