The Hungarian Grand Prix has been held at the Hungaroring circuit outside of Budapest every year since 1986. Only Monaco and Monza can claim a longer continuous presence on the F1 calendar.
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 twice, in 2006 and 2011.
Attendance figures are not provided for the race, as with many Formula 1 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.
Hungarian Grand Prix: did you know?
- With 5 wins, Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver at the Hungaroring. Michael Shumacher won here 4 times and Ayrton Senna won the Hungarian GP 3 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 GP moments:
- Nelson Piquet passed Ayrton Senna around the outside of turn 1 (on opposite lock!) on his way to victory in the inaugural Hungarian GP of 1986. Many consider this to be one of the best overtakes of all time!
- Nigel Mansell secured his only World Driver’s Championship in 1992 at the Hungaroring with five races to spare. Michael Schumacher also won his fourth championship at the circuit, 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.
Circuit Name: Hungaroring
Track Length: 4.381km (14 turns)
Race Distance: 70 laps (306.630 km)
Lap Record: 1:19.071, Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), 2004
1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
2. Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari)
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)