Hungary should be close between Ferrari, Mercedes & Red Bull – Hungarian GP Complete Guide



After a dominant British Grand Prix win, its Hungary this weekend for the last round before the summer break, with an opportunity for Lewis Hamilton to move into the lead in the drivers championship at a track that he has made his own over the years . After his Silverstone tyre woes Sebastian Vettel’s early advantage has fallen to a single point, and with the recent improvement in Mercedes form coupled with a resurgent Red Bull, Vettel’s hopes of becoming the first Ferrari driver to win the drivers title since 2007 seem to be hanging by a thread. Of course, it was Vettels team-mate Kimi Raikkonen who took the honours for Ferrari that year by stealing the title from Lewis Hamilton when all seemed lost, so Ferrari will know there is still plenty to play for. The shorter wheelbase Ferrari will hope to maximise its chances at Hungary, and with Red Bull likely to get in amongst the leaders at a track where out and out power will not be so critical, there is plenty of scope for a dramatic swing in the title chase this weekend.

Last years race saw Lewis Hamilton take control from the first corner having gotten a better start than his polesitting team-mate Rosberg, justice for Lewis who had wondered if Rosberg’s pole lap should have been wiped out for not slowing enough under yellow flags, after Lewis own final qualy lap had been ruined by the spinning Fernando Alonso. From there on Lewis simply controlled the pace to manage his tyres, backing Rosberg into his rivals, but finding pace when needed, or when threatened by the pit wall that Merc would bring Rosberg in to pit first if Lewis didn’t up his pace! Daniel Ricciardo had made an excellent start and briefly had his nose ahead of Rosberg, but wasn’t able to hold the place, and from there on the result of Hamilton winning from Rosberg was never threatened as Mercedes dominance allowed them to toy with the opposition. The race was rather processional for the most part, with Vettel getting the undercut on Max Verstappen and then trailing Ricciardo all the way to the chequered flag. In the first round of stops Max was the big loser, coming in after Vettel and Ricciardo and getting bottled up behind Kimi Raikkonen, who was running long on the harder of the available tyres (the soft) in the opening stint after a qualifying disaster. This would see Max taken out of the equation for the battle for third place as he lost ground before Kimi finally pitted, but livened up proceedings first we got to see Max try in vain to pass Kimi before Kimi finally made huis first stop, and then later on in the race as Kimi approached Max on fresh supersofts we witnessed another duel between the two, with Max defending vigorously, too much so for Kimi’s liking, contact between the two into turn 2 ending Kimi’s hopes of claiming the place.


Lewis Hamilton overtook Michael Schumacher for the most victories around the Hungaroring last year, and with 5 wins to his name is clearly the master of the Hungaroring. Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo have all taken a victory around here, and will be hoping they can get in the mix again this weekend, while further down the grid, Fernando Alonso became the youngest Grand Prix winner at the time when he won his only Hungarian Gran Prix in 2003, an amazing 14 years ago! While Fernando is unlikely to make it win number 2 this year, it will be an important event for McLaren, and the pressure will be on to see if McLaren can take the fight to Sauber in the constructors championship!

Read more on the protagonists.



The first Hungarian Grand Prix was held back in 1936 on a circuit through Nepliget Park in Budapest, the race being won by the great Tazio Nuvolari in an Alfa Romeo entered by Scuderia Ferrari.

The Hungarian Grand Prix was added to the Formula One Championship calendar in 1986 (Nelson Piquet winning for Williams), and has been a permanent fixture ever since, providing many memorable races despite, or thanks to, it’s tight layout!

The track has provided 4 drivers with their first Grand Prix Victory. Damon Hill earned his first victory for Williams in 1993, while Fernando Alonso got his breakthrough win here for Renault in 2003. Jenson Button’s long awaited first victory came here for Honda after a wet race in 2006, and Heikki Kovalainen became the last driver to take his maiden victory here with McLaren in 2008.

The Hungarian Grand Prix has witnessed the World Drivers Champion crowned here twice. Nigel Mansell wrapping up his title for Williams in 1992, and Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher making it mathematically impossible for anyone to catch him here in 2001.

The track also witnessed the first ever Grand Prix victory for an F1 car equipped with KERS, when Lewis Hamilton took victory for McLaren in 2009.

The track has seen few modifications from the original layout used in 1986.

There have been two significant changes to the track layout.

The first was in 1989, when the chicane at Turn 3 was removed, replaced with a flowing corner from the entry to the old chicane and re-joining on the exit of the old chicane onto the straight heading to Turn 4.

The second major change came about in 2003, when the first and final corners were altered, lengthening the start/finish straight by some 200m and tightening the first corner in an attempt to increase overtaking opportunities.

Circuit Characteristics

Circuit Map Tagged

The Hungaroring is a tight and twisty 4.3 km track, known for being both bumpy and dusty. The track is carved into a natural bowl, allowing the wind around the circuit to blow dust onto the track. This provides it with a modest level of elevation change. The highest point is on the main straight from where the track runs downhill from Turn 1 and 2 to the lowest point of the track after Turn 3, some 34.6 meters below, before starting to climb back up again into Turn 4. Over the winter the organizers have resurfaced the track, laying a new layer of asphalt.

It has a combination of low and medium speed corners blending into each other that make it one of the toughest on the calendar for brakes despite the lack of significant braking loads, as there is little time for the brakes to cool in the short gaps between the 14 corners on the circuit.

The track itself is low grip in nature, and you can expect to see a lot of dust off line which can punish drivers attempting to find a way past on the narrow track.

Due to the high summer temperatures experienced in Budapest, Pirelli will once again not be bringing the Ultra-Soft tyre, with the Super Soft, Soft and Medium the available compounds. Tyre performance has tended to play a big role at the track, and getting to grips with the different compounds in free practice will be critical for the teams. The hot summer weather usually experienced makes this a physically demanding race for the drivers. While the Hungarian Grand Prix did not see a wet race until 2006, recent years have seen a number of races affected by showers, so everyone will need to have a Plan B prepared just in case!

The track is one of the slowest on the calendar and will place a premium on aerodynamic performance and good mechanical grip, with teams running a Monaco style high downforce configuration.

From the grid there is a long drag down into Turn 1, giving plenty of scope for drivers to attempt to gain places. Turn 1 is a wide sweeping right hander, bending down into a short run into Turn 2. Turn 1 at the end of the start finish straight (which is the first DRS activation zone) will be the most obvious spot to attempt an overtaking manoeuvre during the race. The pit exit is also just before the entry to Turn 1, and in 2012 saw excitement as Kimi Raikkonen exited from his pit stop arrived alongside his oncoming Lotus team mate Romain Grosjean, with Kimi showing no mercy in running the sister Lotus wide into Turn 1 and off the track on the exit of the turn to take 2nd position. So prepare for plenty of action both at the start and during the race. Exiting Turn 1 the drivers rush downhill with the second DRS activation zone leading into Turn 2, a long winding left hander. This was where Max Verstappen and Kimi Raikkonen traded blows last year, with Kimi’s Ferrari coming off the worse for wear, damaging his front wing off the Red Bull as he tried to go first left and then right but found Max defending from all lines.

From here the cars continue on downhill a short burst into the right hander at Turn 3. The cars will take plenty of kerb at the exit of Turn 3 to get as fast an exit as they can onto the long (by Hungaroring standards!) straight heading back uphill into the fast left hander Turn 4. This can be another overtaking opportunity, as witnessed with Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) going around the outside of Jean-Eric Vergne (Torro Rosso) in 2014, as well as a wonderfully judged move on the outside (later penalised for exceeding track limits) by Romain Grosjean (Lotus) on Massa (Ferrari) in 2013. Taking plenty of kerb on the exit of Turn 4 the cars launch into Turn 5, a long winding right hander. From there the cars dash into Turn 6/7, a right left chicane that always invites cars to have a go, even if there is not enough room. Exiting Turn 7 on the kerbs is another quick burst up to Turn 8, a left hander leading into a right hander Turn 9. Again on the kerbs the cars exit Turn 9 and wind left around the curve of Turn 10 before braking into Turn 11, a right hander that leads onto another short straight. At the end of the straight is the right hander Turn 12, an opportunistic overtaking spot at best (as Paul Di Resta will attest, having seen his Force India barged wide off the track here by Pastor Maldonado’s Williams in 2012!). Exiting Turn 12 there is yet another short blast into the long slow right hander at Turn 13, winding around and then snaking back past the pit entrance and DRS detection point into the final bend, the long right hander Turn 14 leading back onto the start finish straight to complete the lap.




The Hungarian Grand Prix will use P Zero White medium, P Zero Yellow soft and P Zero Red supersoft: exactly the same selection that was chosen in Hungary last year, and the fifth time that this particular combination has been used in 2017 (including at the last race in Great Britain). The Hungaroring presents a big contrast to Silverstone though: while it is another well-established permanent venue, it actually has some of the characteristics of a street circuit, such as tight and twisty corners, quite low grip, as well as contained average lap speeds. The weather can be extremely hot, increasing thermal degradation, which is one reason why the medium tyre is brought to Hungary.



2/ Yellow SOFT

3/ White MEDIUM


  • The Hungaroring is an unremitting series of corners, with the tyres constantly working.
  • Hungary produced some of the hottest track temperatures of 2016 after a wet Saturday: two stops was the winning strategy last year.
  • Teams run quite high downforce levels to maximise corner speeds but emphasis is one mechanical rather than aerodynamic grip.
  • In the past, we’ve seen that safety cars can affect race strategy in Hungary.
  • There’s only one real straight, meaning the tyres don’t get much chance to cool down.
  • Overtaking is notoriously difficult, putting the emphasis on qualifying and strategy.
  • Handling and agility are key to a quick lap rather than outright power.



“The track was resurfaced in time for last year’s grand prix and it will be interesting to see the effect of this change one year on, as the new asphalt matures. We noticed last year that it was smoother and generally faster than the previous surface. The team’s tyre selections have leaned in favour of soft and supersoft, so we obviously expect that to form the basis of their strategies. Hungary is traditionally a race where strategy makes the difference, also because of the difficulty of overtaking, so the data collection process on Friday and Saturday should be even more important than usual with this brand-new generation of faster cars”.


  • At the same time as the grand prix, Pirelli’s biggest single race in terms of tyres supplied is taking place: the Spa 24 Hours in Belgium, using more than 10,000 tyres.
  • Following the Hungarian Grand Prix, the second in-season test of the year will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday with all the teams expected. Within that test, Mercedes will run a car for one day to help develop Pirelli’s 2018 slick tyres.
  • The weekend after Hungary, Pirelli’s European Rally Champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz will contest his home event, Rally Rzeszow in Poland, aiming to retake the series lead.
  • Having passed the season’s halfway point, Formula 1 takes a break after the Hungarian Grand Prix, before resuming in Belgium at the end of August.


18.5 psi (front) – 17.5 psi (rear)


–3.75° (front) | -2.00° (rear)


Form Guide:

Lewis Hamilton has been the undisputed master of this track, winning his first race for Mercedes here in 2013, and will surely fancy his chances now that Mercedes seem to have gotten on top of their tyre issues. Qualifying has been Ferrari’s Achilles heel of late, and with overtaking notoriously difficult here, will need to be on their game if they are to keep Sebastian Vettel’s title charge on track. The shorter wheelbase of the Ferrari should help them, and the higher temperatures expected should also play to their strengths, but getting the job done on Saturday will be critical for Ferrari’s hopes. Red Bull will be lying in wait to capitalize on any mistakes, Daniel Ricciardo having shown he knows how to take advantage of trouble to record a win around here, while if Max Verstappen’s excellent showing in his rookie season with Toro Rosso wasn’t enough to get attention, his line changing defence against Kimi Raikkonen last year will certainly have the Ferrari or Mercedes strategists searching for a plan B should Max get ahead! Further down the field there will be the more pressure for the pointless Palmer at Renault, with Robert Kubica’s imminent test looming, now would be the perfect time for Jolyon to record his first points finish. Palmer has endured wretched luck so far this season, and with Renault’s new floor available to him this weekend he might be on his last chance to prove his worth to the team. McLaren will be targeting this race for obvious reasons, and with their recent improvements will fancy their chances of overhauling Sauber in the championship standings – if they can make it to the finish.


Memorable Moments:


1986 – A race long duel between Brasil’s Piquet and Senna saw Piquet come out on top

1989 –  A charging victory for Nigel Mansell.

1997 – So close for Damon Hill

2006 – Jenson Button’s breakthrough win in an amazing rain affected race (story coming soon)



Support Races

F2, GP3 and the Porsche Supercup will once again provide the supporting entertainment.

In F2, Ferrari Academy driver Charles LeClerc continues to dominate, taking a sixth consecutive pole position in Silverstone. If you haven’t been watching F2 it’s worth casting an eye on the races this weekend, as LeClerc is putting in the kind of performances that really should see him graduate to F1 in the near future – he will get a chance to show his worth as he drives for Ferrari next week during the in-season test. It was another dominant feature race win in Silverstone for LeClerc despite some drama mid race as oil briefly leaked from his car and smoke started to come out the back of his PREMA machine, but that problem wasn’t terminal, and even losing one of his mirrors late on in the race had no effect on LeClerc. He brought his car home 9 seconds ahead of Norman Nato, who held off Oliver Rowland to the line. Renault Sport development driver Rowland had been leading the battle to be best of the rest behind LeClerc, but he has dropped back to third in the standings after Silverstone, with Artem Markelov moving into second place after Rowland was penalized for forcing Markelov off track in the sprint race – while a further penalty for impeding cars under the safety car would see Rowland classified in 17th place.  Rowland’s DAMS teammate Nicholas Latifi, another Renault Sport development driver who will see action in the Renault F1 car at the post Hungarian GP test, won the sprint race from Luca Ghiotto and Markelov, which leaves Latifi in fourth place and Ghiotto (who will also be in action at the F1 test for Williams) in fifth place in the championship. This weekend will see Haas development driver Santonio Ferucci make the move up from GP3 to F2, with Ferucci having been 14th in the GP3 standings after the opening three rounds.

In GP3, Mercedes junior George Russel delighted the home crowd with a feature race win in Silverstone, and he now holds a commanding lead in the championship, with Anthoine Hubert, Nirei Fukuzumi and Jack Aitken all close together in the battle for second place, making it an ART 1-2-3-4 in the championship. Russel will hope to continue his good form with another win before testing for Mercedes next week. Last time out, Giuliano Alesi took the chequered flag in the sprint race to secure his first win in GP3.

In the Porsche Supercup last time out in Silverstone saw Norway’s Dennis Olsen take his maiden victory. Three time winner this year Michael Ammermuller came through from third on the grid to take second ahead of teammate Dylan Pereira, with Ammermuller retaining a 12 point lead in the championship over Olsen with Dan Cammish having moved into thord place ahead of Austrian winner Matt Campbell.

Previous Results:

Year Winner Constructor
2016  Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
2015  Sebastian Vettel Ferrari
2014 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault
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 Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes



3 responses to “Hungary should be close between Ferrari, Mercedes & Red Bull – Hungarian GP Complete Guide

  1. If the FP2 times are any indication – M-B is really struggling, expecially #44, on the supersofts

    • Yep, Mercedes are not looking good. But you never know, they may just find time somehow and put a strong qualification together. Track position would give them an edge for the race as overtaking is kind of difficult here. The same is obviously true for Ferrari as well and you know that Vettel will NOT miss a single opportunity to go into the summer break with a healthy points lead.

  2. If the FP3 times are any indication – M-B is really struggling, expecially #44, on the supersofts

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