Circuit Profile: 2013 – Hungary, Mogyorod, Hungaroring – Round 10

Brought to you by TheJudge13 ‘Track Profile Specialist’ Alistair Hunter

2013 eni Magyar Nagydíj 

Hungaroring © SimracewayAfter a slightly longer break than usual due to the failure to find a replacement for the New Jersey round of the championship – now set to join the calendar next year – the battle for Formula One supremacy in 2013 continues to wind its way through continental Europe. The tenth race this season will be the 28th edition of the Hungarian Grand Prix as a Formula One World Championship event, and the continuation of a historical relationship between Hungary and motorsport.

Sebastian Vettel currently has a 34 point lead that ensures he will venture into Belgium as the championship leader, but his rivals – namely Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen in second and third place respectively – will be eager to increase the pressure on the young German. His team are also faring rather well in the constructors’ championship, with the Austrian-registered Red Bull Racing on top once again.


As mentioned in the introductory paragraph, Hungary has had connections with motorsport for a long time. One of the most prominent links can be seen in a race regarded as the first ever Grand Prix, where Ferenc Szisz – a Hungarian driver for Renault with experience in various motorsport competitions – triumphed in the two day French Grand Prix held in Le Mans during June 1906.

His complete participation in Grands Prix is limited to the four French races that he entered between 1906 and 1914, failing to become the first repeat victor. However, his contribution to Hungarian auto racing has not been forgotten, with a statue of the driver located at the main entrance of the Hungaroring.

Bernd Rosemeyer © Wired.comSpeaking of the Hungaroring, the modern venue may have a monopoly on F1 World Championship Grands Prix in the country, but the first Hungarian Grand Prix took place in the Nepliget (or ‘People’s Park’). German driver Bernd Rosemeyer took pole position for the Auto Union, but fell away as Italian driver and 1932 European champion Tazio Nuvolari emerged victorious in the 1936 Hungarian Grand Prix, the second of five non-championship victories he would take that season.

However, aside from that brief appearance, the Hungaroring has been the host of every Hungarian Grand Prix, after Bernie Ecclestone’s search for a race in Eastern Europe during the 1980s led him to suggest a street circuit race similar to the Circuit de Monaco in the aforementioned Nepliget; the government decided instead to build a completely new circuit on a potato field that has hosted the Hungarian Grand Prix ever since.

It has also become the third biggest tourist attraction in Hungary, a figure that can be attributed to fans from countries such as Finland, Poland and Russia effectively utilising this round of the calendar as their home race.

It did have a reputation for continually producing processional races – so, in a way, the wish for a Hungarian equivalent of Monaco has been realised – due to the discovery of an underground spring that ensured that the designers would not be able to add some fast corners, and, until 2006, notable for having no wet races, although this has changed a little bit in recent years.

Circuit Characteristics

The Hungaroring, as mentioned previously, is a 4.381 kilometre circuit consisting of thirteen corners which are all ultimately quite difficult to use to overtake. The first corner was reprofiled in order to encourage overtaking, which changed the corner from what was effectively a replica of the final corner into the main overtaking point of the track. Two DRS zones are found on the start/finish straight and on the short straight on the exit of turn one, also with the intention of helping the drivers to overtake each other.

Hungaroring Characteristics © FIA


The drivers will be driving the car at full throttle for around 56% of the lap, while dealing with an estimated 48 gear changes every time. The high downforce nature of the track and the tight, twisting sections give the track the honour of being the second slowest on the Formula One calendar (behind Monaco, of course), with drivers getting up to speeds of around 300 kilometres per hour, although there is not much chance that they will beat the fastest lap of 1:19.071 set by Michael Schumacher on the 29th lap of the 2004 Hungarian Grand Prix.

The surface of the circuit can often be quite dusty due to a low amount of usage, adding to the low amount of grip in general. The brakes get quite hot around the circuit as well, with the eleven main braking zones coming together to create one of the toughest tracks in that aspect.

A lap with Mark Webber

Pirelli and the Hungaroring

Pirelli P Zero Medium (White) © PirelliFrom the Nurburgring in Germany, the teams head to a completely contrasting venue for the Hungarian Grand Prix: the final race before the summer break. Pirelli brings the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft compounds to the Hungaroring, close to Budapest. This is actually the same nomination as last year, but with the compounds being softer this year, there is even more performance.

©Pirelli P Zero SoftThe construction of the tyres has changed as well, with the 2012 structure matched with the 2013 compounds. These tyres were successfully tested at Silverstone last week, with the teams collecting plenty of data that will be useful for the future. Conditions at the Hungaroring are normally hot and sunny, which increases the work for the tyres. However, average speeds are low at the tight and twisty Hungaroring, which affects the usual pattern of wear and degradation. Rain is not unknown however, so as usual Pirelli will bring the Cinturato Green intermediates and Cinturato Blue full wets as well.

Paul Hembery © PirelliPirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery: “Hungary marks the first event for our latest specification P Zero tyres, which consist of the 2012 construction matched to the 2013 compounds. These tyres were tried out by the teams at Silverstone during the young driver test, who benefitted from the opportunity to adapt the set-up of their cars to best suit the new tyres.

Now they get to use them in competition for the first time, and with qualifying particularly important at the Hungaroring, the work done in free practice will be very important. Overtaking at this circuit is never an easy task, so the teams will be looking to use strategy to maximise their opportunities to gain track position.

The selection of medium and soft tyres should provide plenty of chances to help them do that, based on the data that all the teams gain with different fuel loads in free practice. Temperatures in Hungary can be very high, and this is the other factor on which the levels of wear and degradation experienced will depend.

Traction and braking are two critical aspects of tyre performance in Hungary, with the teams running a set-up designed to emphasise these key areas. With levels of lateral energy relatively low, tyre performance rather than durability will be the limiting factor and this will form the basis of the strategy selected – with the teams aiming to keep the tyres within the peak window of operating performance for as long as possible. The design of our latest tyres should help them to do this.

Jean Alesi © PirelliJean Alesi: “The Hungaroring is a circuit where it is really difficult to overtake, although they did make the straight a bit longer a few years ago to provide more passing opportunities, which helped a bit. So this means that qualifying as well as you can is extremely important.

There is some tyre degradation, but it comes from traction and braking rather than high-energy corners: you have to make sure that your tyres do not go off at the end of a stint in particular. Although I’ve been on the podium it’s never been a track that is especially exciting to drive. But it’s a very important race for Formula One history and culture: when I first raced there, Hungary was still behind the Iron Curtain, and the grand prix was just one of those things that brought change to so many countries in that area, which were still Communist at the time.

It was an incredibly exciting period of history and the race was a symbol of the liberation that was to come. Those days are gone now, but the fans are still as passionate as always and this is why it is always a pleasure to come here.

The circuit from a tyre point of view:

The Hungaroring is a permanent circuit built in 1986 but in many ways its characteristics are similar to those of a street circuit. It’s a tight and twisty track with 14 corners and an average speed in the region of 180kph: this makes it the second-slowest circuit of the year after Monaco. The cars actually spend a lower proportion of the lap on full throttle than they do even in Monaco. Ten of the 14 corners are taken at 155kph or lower.

The circuit is not extensively used for many other races during the year, which means that the surface is often ‘green’ at the start of the weekend. As more cars run through the track a clean line emerges, but because there is only one clear line around the narrow circuit, a lot of dirt, dust and marbles accumulate off the racing line, making the problem of overtaking even harder.

The large number of narrow corners and big steering inputs mean that the edges of the tyres are subjected to peaks of temperature and wear. The tyres can sometimes overheat more on a slow and twisty track than on a fast and flowing track.

Technical tyre notes:

The Hungaroring requires a high-downforce set-up, as the cars are on full throttle for only around 10 seconds over the course of the 4.381 kilometre lap.

The top three all selected two-stop strategies last year, although they used their tyre allocation in different ways. The top 10 on the grid all started on the soft tyre; the highest-placed starter on the medium tyre was Mark Webber in 11th, who finished the race eighth.

The performance gap between the medium and soft tyre is likely to be around a second per lap.

A lap with Pirelli

Brembo and the Hungaroring

Hungaroring Turn 1 © Brembo

© Brembo

Italian brake manufacturer Brembo have identified eleven major braking points on the circuit, where the drivers spend 5% of their lap under braking. Most notable of these is Turn 1, where the speed drops from 308 kph to 99 kph over a distance of 109 metres that is covered in 2.14 seconds, creating a maximum deceleration of 5.46 G.

That turn easily stands out as the most difficult under braking, but the second sector is also quite tricky and technical, with few places to get up to great speed before having to brake. This is in contrast to the first and third sectors, where there is an easier balance of straights and corners.

Memorable Moments

1989 – Nigel Mansell came from 12th on the grid to take victory, due to good strategy and good driving, with the winning overtake occurring as Ayrton Senna and Mansell attempted to lap Stefan Johansson. Senna’s subsequent lift off the throttle in turn three allowed the Brit to take his fifteenth career victory.

Thierry Boutsen Hungaroring Podium © f1i1990 – The flaws of the circuit are exposed as Thierry Boutsen took advantage of the inability of Senna to overtake, completing an immaculate drive in order to claim victory ahead of faster cars behind. This would be his third and last career victory.

1998 – Mika Hakkinen started from pole position and led alongside his teammate David Coulthard, but Michael Schumacher ended up taking victory due to a tactical change from Ross Brawn, seeing the German driver use a three stop strategy to his advantage, and keeping him in the championship hunt.

2006 – The first ever wet Hungarian Grand Prix saw Raikkonen lead from pole, but changing conditions and good overtaking from Jenson Button – with the help of not pitting under a safety car to reach second place, and the leader Alonso crashing out – saw the British driver win a Formula One race for the first time, while Pedro de la Rosa took his only podium finish in second, and Nick Heidfeld completed the podium with BMW Sauber’s first podium finish.

2008 – The retirements of the leaders and championship rivals Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa enabled the Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen to take his first and only victory. This is also a significant result because he became the 100th different driver to win a World Championship Formula One race.

Notable Drivers

While Hungary can lay claim to the winner of the first Grand Prix, the first Hungarian to appear in the Formula One World Championship took place 97 years later. That man was Zsolt Baumgartner, who appeared as a substitute for the injured Jordan driver Ralph Firman in the 2003 German Grand Prix, getting hold of the car in qualifying and finished the session on the back row of the grid, only ahead of Nicolas Kiesa; however, unlike the Dane, Baumgartner was unable to complete the race due to an engine failure on lap 34.

His second race led to his first finish, in eleventh place at the Italian Grand Prix that year. For 2004, he moved to Minardi, where the highlight of his season was a points finish in eighth place at Indianapolis (albeit three laps behind the winner Michael Schumacher), and finishing 20th in the championship. He was described as someone who had the potential to be a test driver for a top team or a race driver for a midfield team by Eddie Jordan, but ultimately his career in F1 ended after 2004. Since then, he has tested for Champ Car and raced in Superleague Formula.

Since then, there has been no other Hungarian F1 driver, making Hungary one of only seven countries who have been represented in the Formula One world championship by only one driver – the others being Poland, Russia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Liechtenstein and Malaysia.

Tamas Pal Kiss © kisspaltamas.comThe next Hungarian talent appears to be Tamas Pal Kiss, who currently lies fifth in the AutoGP standings. Formerly a third place finisher in the British Formula 2.o Championship, he spent 2011 and 2012 in the GP3 series, winning one race and managing nine points finishes from 32 starts.

This year, he kicked off his AutoGP campaign at the Hungaroring for the third round of the season, finishing fifth in both races for the MLR71 Team, before replacing Narain Karthikeyan at Zele Racing, taking his first podium at Silverstone, two places behind the Indian driver. Consistent points finishes have seen him climb up to fifth in the standings, 81 points behind the championship leader Sergio Campana.

Support Races

Similar to the previous few events, the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup will reach the halfway point of its nine race calendar, with Sean Edwards leading at the top of the table from Nicki Thiim and Michael Ammermuller. Thiim has had better results than the British leader in the last two races though, and if the trend continues here then his four point deficit could easily be turned upside down.

Tio Ellinas had the privilege of testing for the Marussia F1 team last week, but his eleventh place amongst the other Formula One drivers is a completely different scenario than his placing in the GP3 series this year. The Cypriot leads the championship due to his status as the only driver to finish in the points at every single race this season, with a 19 point advantage over his nearest challenger Facu Regalia to show for this streak; although both drivers have the same number of victories (1), and the latter has stood on the podium more times than the leader (3 vs. 2).

Stefano Coletti © Automobilsport.comAnd finally, eleven of these circuit profiles on thejudge13 would not be complete without mentioning the GP2 series, which reaches round seven this weekend. Once again, Monegasque driver Stefano Coletti leads the championship, having gained a third place finish in Germany to extend his lead over the Brazilian talent Felipe Nasr.

While the last four results do not favour the championship leader, as his third place finish was the only points finish over the British and German Grand Prix weekends, Coletti’s overall form and 27 point advantage should be enough to attract the gaze of several teams in the F1 paddock when considering driver line ups for next season; although whether there is enough money and/or talent to get him a race seat is another matter entirely. Anyway, anyone paying attention to the GP2 series will recognise several names from the Young Driver Test last week, so there is plenty of talent to choose from!


Year Driver Constructor
2012 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2011 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
2010 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
2009 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2008 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes
2007 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
2006 Jenson Button Honda
2005 Kimi Räikkönen McLaren-Mercedes
2004 Michael Schumacher Ferrari
2003 Fernando Alonso Renault

4 responses to “Circuit Profile: 2013 – Hungary, Mogyorod, Hungaroring – Round 10

  1. Good intro to the race, but why the video game simulated laps? Aren’t there real videos out there?

    • There are but few gives you the insight that a racing driver does. He can share the small things that make a difference over the lap.

  2. It will be interesting to see if the race loses any of the excitement with the change in reporting style and relegating of camera crews to the pit wall.
    I am sure the TV channels will try something new, maybe it will be better for the viewer. More fixed and remote control cameras, I assume.Time will tell

    • I doubt much will be available for Hungary but by next year I suspect a whole new style – the technology is used in IndyCar – it will be pretty easy to adopt it. The camera(wo)men can then be utilised in areas where they don’t currently bother so much. If treated positively this can be good news for all of us.

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