Circuit: The Hungaroring
First GP held: 1986
Circuit length: 2.7222 miles
Interesting fact: Michael Schumacher holds the record for most pole positions at the Hungaroring, with seven to his name.
Formula 1’s summer break is fast approaching, with the opportunity for teams to recharge their batteries and take stock of the season so far. But standing between them and the sun loungers is the final race of the first half of the season, the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring.
The Hungaroring has hosted the Hungarian Grand Prix since the inception of the race in 1986. Since then the track has been on the F1 calendar every year, an honour only Monza and Monaco also hold. Over the years, the track has gained a reputation for being difficult to overtake on, though despite this fact the Hungaroring has a habit of defying expectations and has led to some fantastic racing over the years. Most recently in both 2014 and 2015. While some have argued that due to the difficult nature of the track, pole position is extremely important, it is worth noting that none of the previous three winners started from pole position. And only two of the last nine pole sitters have gone on to win the race.
What is worth noting is that Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton is considered something of an expert around this track, having won this race five times during his career, breaking the previous four wins held by Michael Schumacher. He could also equal another one of Schumacher’s records this weekend, which is the all-time number of pole positions recorded. Schumacher currently stands the record holder on 68 pole positions during his career, while Hamilton has one less on 67. And considering Hamilton has sat on pole here five times, there is a great possibility he can reach that magical number of 68 poles this weekend.
In terms of the championship, this race really is all to play for, with just one point in it between Hamilton and current championship leader Sebastian Vettel. The fight has not been this close in the championship since the Chinese Grand Prix this season, but that all changed following the British Grand Prix and Vettel’s tyre blowout at the end of the race.
If Hamilton can take the championship lead this weekend from Vettel, then the result will be a mirror of what happened last season for him in the championship, where Hamilton overhauled his team mate Nico Rosberg in Hungary after Rosberg had lead the championship from the beginning of the season.
This race is a must win for Ferrari, who haven’t won a race since May and the Monaco Grand Prix. The team have won this race previously in 2015 with Vettel, however compared to Hamilton’s five wins round this circuit, Vettel has only won the once. Despite this the Ferrari have an advantage compared to Mercedes for this race, as the Ferrari has shown better performance in the tight corners this season. Which will be an advantage when it comes to taking the tight and twisty corners of the Hungaroring. As well as this, temperatures have been predicted to be in the region of 30 degrees throughout the weekend. At the start of the season in the hotter flyaway races Ferrari were able to use the hotter temperatures to their advantage, something which they could do round here.
Towards the very back of the grid, there will be another battle for performance under scrutiny. McLaren have said that the layout of the Hungaroring should favour their car, as the Honda power unit’s deficit should be minimised, while the strength of their chassis should come into its own here. The team took a huge gamble with major grid penalties at Silverstone for Fernando Alonso to ensure he had new components for this race. The team have the target of reaching the third part of qualifying, and to score points to add to the two points Alonso scored for the team in Azerbaijan. Though they will be at the mercy of the reliability of the Honda power unit.
The Hungaroring is a tight, twisty, difficult track that really puts drivers to the test with little chance to relax during the race. One corner connects into the next corner in very quick succession, which has led to many drivers comparing it to an oversized karting track. One of the most difficult corners on the track itself is the unsighted turn four at the top of the hill. Though this corner has been toned down over the years with a run off area being introduced. The track still retains a sting in it’s tail though catching out many unsuspecting drivers and punishing them accordingly with crashes into tyre barriers. Though at the same time, it has been a track that recently has become the maiden win for both Jenson Button and Heikki Kovalainen.
While the 2016 race was not exactly a memorable race, the 2015 and 2014 races round the Hungaroring were both spectacular. In 2014, a thunderstorm before the beginning of the race soaked the track, which in turn lead to a chaotic Grand Prix dominated by incidents up and down the grid and safety cars too. Through the mayhem Daniel Ricciardo was able to drive his Red Bull home to take his second victory in Formula 1. An impressive feet considering four laps from the end of the race he was lying in third behind Hamilton and Alonso. Similarly in 2015 Vettel had to negotiate through a chaotic race of safety cars and incidents to take the victory. The race had been overshadowed in the build up due to the news of the tragic passing of Jules Bianchi, but as soon as the visors went down the race was on. With many feeling the drivers put on the best race they could in honour of Bianchi. The race had everything in it and kept you on the edge of your seat, despite a lack of rain during the race, which usually spices things up. Here’s hoping the 2017 race will live up to the races of 2014 and 2015.
The action gets underway with Friday Free Practice, and Overtake Motorsport will have reports on all the major action throughout the weekend.
Feature Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Formula_1_Hungarian_Grand_Prix_2011_(6).JPG