Hungaroring – Home of the Hungarian Grand Prix

The Hungaroring is roughly 30 kilometers northeast of Budapest, Hungary’s capital city.

The first Hungarian Grand Prix was held in 1936, in Népliget, or the “Peoples Park” in Budapest. With politics and an impending war however, Grand Prix racing would not return for fifty years; Bernie Ecclestone would secure the first Grand Prix race ever to be held behind the Iron Curtain in 1986.

Ecclestone wanted a race in the then USSR, but a Hungarian friend of his recommended Budapest. Originally, Ecclestone wanted a street circuit similar to that of Monaco to be constructed around the original site of Népliget, but the government opted for a circuit to be built just outside the city. Construction began in October 1985, and the circuit was completed in just eight months; less time than any other circuit on the calendar.

Passing at the circuit is generally difficult due to its narrow twisty nature, and is affectionately referred to as ‘Monaco without the walls’. It is also a very dusty track due to lack of use; normally this means that those running later in Qualifying sessions benefit from better conditions, so expect to see very late attempts at the fastest lap for Pole Position this weekend.

Weather for the race is generally dry and hot, a factor backed up by the fact that the circuit didn’t experience its first wet race for twenty years! (One wonders if this is a record, but have been unable to find any records to substantiate this). Opinions of the track differ between the drivers, some love it, some find it too hot, too slow and demanding.

In 2003, in an effort to improve overtaking opportunities and allow more entertaining racing, some changes were made to the circuit. More significantly in recent times however, the introduction of DRS (Drag Reduction System) to Formula One in the 2011 season has improved overtaking opportunities significantly.

With the DRS detection point just prior to turn thirteen, activation will take place just seventy metres into the main start/finish straight and should give good overtaking opportunities down the straight and into turn one. The FIA have opted to stick with a single DRS zone for this race, as they have at both Silverstone and Hockenheim recently.

It has historically been a successful track for McLaren; the team have won more races here (ten) than any other constructor. It is also a successful track for the British pairing of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

Jenson not only celebrated his 200th race at the Hungaroring in 2006, but his first ever Grand Prix win. He would win the race again in 2011 in similarly wet conditions. Hamilton, on the other hand, first won in Hungary in 2007. He would be the first driver that season to lead every lap of a race, such was the competitive nature of the season. His second win at the circuit would come in 2009.

With McLaren dominating wins at the circuit overall as a constructor, and Jenson and Lewis winning four of the last six outings, it bodes well for the team this coming weekend.

With the passing of the halfway point in the season at Hockenheim last weekend, and the impending mid-season break upon us; McLaren will be keen to demonstrate that the upgrades they have added to the cars have been successful. In addition, they will be hoping that the historic success at the circuit will stand them in good stead for the season going forward.

In anticipation of the upcoming break in racing, I am working on an update  to a previous article, which I would really appreciate some help with. If you could visit and answer a very short survey, I would be eternally grateful.


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