#F1 Circuit Profile: Hungaroring – Hungary 2014 – Round 12

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

Hungaroring - View from Sky

While it may have escaped your attention if you have your mind focused on the Commonwealth Games, the Formula One season continues this weekend with a visit to Hungary. This race will be the 31st edition of the Grand Prix held in Eastern Europe.

Nico Rosberg currently leads the drivers’ championship by fourteen points from his teammate Lewis Hamilton after the race last weekend, with Hamilton becoming the first Mercedes driver to finish outside the top two this season – although it was still a good effort! Nevertheless, there is still a long way to go.


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.

2014 HungarianGP Circuit Characteristics

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 Lewis Hamilton

Pirelli and the Hungaroring

Pirelli P Zero Medium WHITEPirelli, along with the rest of the teams, makes the 800-kilometre journey from Hockenheim to Budapest for the only back-to-back European grand prix weekend of the season. The Hungaroring, the first Formula One venue ever to be built behind the former Iron Curtain back in 1986, is a permanent facility but has many of the characteristics of a street circuit, with tight and twisty corners and a low grip surface that puts the emphasis on mechanical grip. In the past, the race has often been very hot, but rain is not unknown either.

Pirelli is bringing the P Zero White medium along with the P Zero yellow soft tyres, which should provide the right compromise between performance and resistance to the high ambient temperatures. Although the Hungaroring is not particularly demanding on tyres, the non-stop series of corners mean that the compounds do not get much of an opportunity to cool down over the course of a lap.

Paul Hembery © PirelliPaul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director:Hungary is well-known for being a tricky layout, where it’s difficult to overtake and to find a perfect set-up for the whole lap. This means that strategy is especially important, as it offers a rare opportunity to gain track position.

The weather is normally a talking point in Hungary, but having seen how our tyres performed in the very hot track temperatures of Hockenheim, we’re confident that this shouldn’t be a problem. The tyres we are bringing to Hungary are a step harder, to deal with the increased demands, so we would expect the usual two pit stops – although we will only have a better idea of this once we get to free practice on Friday.

Jean Alesi © PirelliJean Alesi, Pirelli consultant:In the last few years, the Hungaroring has changed in a positive way. It’s a track where you run maximum downforce, because of all the slow corners and low-gear acceleration, but there are also some places now where you can push to the maximum.

Getting good traction remains the principal technical challenge, and most of all you need to look after the rear tyres, otherwise you end up with no grip and reduced braking. There are a few key points to know on the circuit. The second corner after the pits, for example, is a downhill left-hander that seems quick but isn’t: you need to stay on the inside to have the best line for the right-hander that follows it.

And that’s the key to the Hungaroring really; every corner affects the next one. It’s going to be even more difficult this year I think: all the corners mean that the drivers have to be careful how they modulate the throttle.

With the extra torque this year that is no easy task, so it will be quite hard to stick to the ideal racing line every time…

The circuit from a tyre point of view:

©Pirelli P Zero SoftThe Hungaroring is a circuit that is quite well balanced between traction and braking, and lateral energy. The cars run maximum downforce in order to make the most of the mechanical grip through the slow corners.
The medium tyre is a low working range compound, capable of achieving optimal performance even at a wide range of low temperatures. The soft tyre by contrast is a high working range compound, suitable for higher temperatures. Track temperatures at the Hungaroring are often among the hottest of the year.

The tyres are often subjected to a combination of forces at the Hungaroring. The aerodynamic downforce means that there is a vertical force pushing down onto the tyres, while at the same time there is a lateral force going through the tyres as they negotiate the corners, as well as longitudinal forces from acceleration and braking. All this increases the stress on the structure.

The winning strategy in 2013 was three stops, as Lewis Hamilton took his first win for Mercedes using the medium and the soft tyres. Kimi Raikkonen finished second for Lotus F1 Team after stopping only twice.

A lap with Pirelli

Brembo and the Hungaroring


* Turn 01 is considered the most demanding for the braking system. ©Brembo

A winding circuit, it is characterised by the high aerodynamic load and most of it is quite driven, but with a rather demanding braking section right after the main straight stretch. This track can be numbered among the most demanding for braking systems, even if friction material temperature management on this track is in any case the key to managing the race and ensuring consistent performance and wear kept under control.

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.

Support Races

Unsurprisingly, the series is supported by GP2, GP3 and the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup once again. Mitch Evans won his second race of the season in GP2 last weekend, while Stefano Coletti won his first race of the season last time out. Coletti, who was fifth last season, is the highest ranked of the two drivers, with Evans one place further behind in the championship in fifth this season. Jolyon Palmer currently leads Felipe Nasr by 41 points in the championship after the gap was closed by three points following the races last weekend.

The GP3 series merited a mention in a national newspaper recently after Jann Mardenborough won the sprint race in Germany last weekend. The British driver, who currently lies tenth in the championship, is notable due to his connection to the Red Bull academy after winning a competition through the Gran Turismo PlayStation games. However, he is 91 points behind the championship leader Alex Lynn, who had two solid podium finishes last time out in Germany to enhance his lead over Jimmy Eriksson.

The Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup continues on to its sixth round this weekend, with Kuba Giermaziak’s lead in the standings shortened to just five points after he finished sixth in the last race. Earl Bamber, the second placed driver, was second in the German race, which was ultimately won by Nicki Thiim in only his second race this season (although he did win the series last year, an achievement overshadowed by the death of Sean Edwards before the final two races).

Previous Results

Year Driver Constructor
2013 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
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

6 responses to “#F1 Circuit Profile: Hungaroring – Hungary 2014 – Round 12

  1. “The drivers will be driving the car at full throttle for around 56% of the lap”

    Is that 56% of the total duration of the lap, or 56% of the total distance of the lap? And where did you get this figure if I may ask?
    Thanks 🙂

    • Good point… Piquet around Senna, on the outside, counter steering the whole way, and for the win. Epic move, especially considering the driver it was on. Ballsy stuff. It’s races like that which remind me Piquet was a pretty damn good peddler. Shame about his personality, but at least he was a character.

  2. I’m sure you could have written Heikki’s full name:

    2008 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes

    In the end, Heikki is not Madonna. 🙂

  3. “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.”

    I’m surprised. For instance Canada is tough on brakes because of the several hard-brake zones that it has (stop-go nature of the circuit). But Hungary? Hungaroring is waving around, with only one serious braking zone (T1). Why would the twist-and-turn layout punish the brakes?

  4. Pingback: GP da Hungria: #AdieuJules - Papaya Orange·

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