Heavy hearts as F1 moves on to Hungary

2015 Hungarian Grand Prix preview

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Start, Hungaroring, 2013A heavy-hearted F1 field will gather at the Hungaroring this weekend for the first race since the death of Jules Bianchi.

Formula One’s regular hand-wringing over the state of the sport and the one-sidedness of the competition pale into insignificance following the events of the past week.

Past generations of drivers had all-too common experiences of attending the funeral of a rival. For today’s drivers it is a mercifully rare event, but all the more shocking because of it.

A minute’ silence in honour of Bianchi will be held ahead of Sunday’s race. While we all want to see a competitive and exciting grand prix, the first and foremost hope is that it will be a safe one.

This year sees the 30th running of the Hungarian Grand Prix, and while the Hungaroring may never be revered in the same way as Spa, Monza or Silverstone it has become a popular stop on the schedule.

Track data: Hungaroring

Lap length4.381km (2.722 miles)
Grand prix distance293.527km (182.389 miles)
Lap record (in a race)1’19.071 (Michael Schumacher, 2004)
Fastest lap (any session)1’18.436 (Rubens Barrichello, 2004, qualifying one)
Tyre compoundsMedium and Soft
2014 Rate the Race9.14/10
2014 Driver of the WeekendFernando Alonso

*Fastest lap set during a Grand Prix

Hungaroring track data in full

The views of the two Toro Rosso drivers sum up the general opinion of this event: while Max Verstappen thinks of it as “a bit of a Mickey Mouse track” but Carlos Sainz Jnr considers it “definitely one of the historic European tracks that everyone loves going to”.

Even in the DRS era, the difficulties of overtaking at the Hungaroring are such that last year was only the second time the race had been won by someone who did not start on the front row. With strategic options likely to be limited on Pirelli’s choice of the soft and medium tyre for this weekend, Saturday’s qualifying session will be one of the most important of the year.

Last year this was the only circuit where Mercedes got both cars to the finish with neither of them in first place. But it took a rain shower and the appearance of the Safety Car for that to happen.

The gap between their two championship-leading drivers has ebbed and flowed over the last five races, and both will be eager to seize the initiative as F1 heads into a four-week break after the chequered flag falls.

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Hungarian Grand Prix team-by-team preview


The Hungaroring tends to be a stronghold for Lewis Hamilton The world champion already has four wins and four pole positions at this track.

So it’ll be a coup for Nico Rosberg if he can cut his team mate’s points lead here. Last year a turbo fire for Hamilton in qualifying helped Rosberg to pole position, but the sudden appearance of the Safety Car and Medical Car during the race thwarted his bid for victory.

Red Bull

Daniil Kvyat reckons the tight circuit is “probably a little bit too narrow for modern Formula One cars”. However it should mitigate the weakness of the Renault engine and give Red Bull a shot at their best result of the season so far.

Last year Daniel Ricciardo took an opportunistic victory but in the past few races he has been shown the way home by his junior team mate. The contest between the two will be fascinating this weekend.


Although neither FW37 finished on the podium at Silverstone it was arguably the team’s most competitive showing of the year so far. But while the team can expect to go well at some of the other high-speed tracks coming up – notably Spa-Francorchamps and Monza – the slow Hungaroring may play against them, especially after their poor showing at Monaco.

“This circuit wouldn’t normally suit our car because it’s quite low speed,” admits Felipe Massa, “but we have improved the car so much in recent races with the upgrades we have introduced so we should have another competitive weekend.”


For all McLaren’s troubles, perhaps Fernando Alonso has managed a wry smile over the past few races over the form of his ex-team. Despite Sebastian Vettel’s Malaysian Grand Prix victory, Alonso has stuck to his view that Ferrari has not made any substantive gains on Mercedes this year, and at Silverstone they seemed further away than ever – only the rain made a podium possible.

Kimi Raikkonen can expect another weekend in the media spotlight as reports in Italy indicate he may have already lost his Ferrari seat for 2016.


With Honda beginning to make noises about having got on top of their reliability problems, McLaren’s season could be about to get interesting. Fernando Alonso has indicated that once the team are able to turn up the wick on the Honda power plant the performance gains could be substantial.

They need to be, especially with Spa and Monza coming up soon. Until then, the down-tempo Hungaroring could help mask their key weakness and even give them a crack at the points.

Force India

Nico Hulkenberg has been in fine form since his Le Mans 24 Hours victory and is hoping for more gains in the team’s second race with its revised VJM08.

“There’s a good feeling in the team and I think we can be competitive again this weekend,” he said. “The low and medium-speed corners should suit us and the tyre choices are a bit softer than Silverstone, which should help us.”

Toro Rosso

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Toro Rosso, Silverstone, 2015The STR10 is considered one of the best chassis in F1 at the moment. And as both of Toro Rosso’s rookie drivers already know the Hungaroring, this could be a good weekend for them.

The big question, as is so often the case with this team, is reliability.


Romain Grosjean has a real affinity for the particular challenges of the Hungaroring, and mustered top three qualifying spots in 2012 and 2013. “I like the feeling you get when driving on the track and the grip you get from it,” he said.

However he is also frustrated by the memory of his 2013 pass on Massa at turn four. Grosjean considers it “one of my best overtaking [moves] ever in my Formula One career” but he was “penalised for being a few small centimetres over the line, which was tough at the time.”


Marcus Ericsson won’t have to do much to improve on his showing in last year’s race, where he crashed out early on. However he has generally been shown the way by his less experienced team mate this year.


Of course the weekend will be hardest of all for Bianchi’s former team, who twelve months ago saw one of their cars reach Q2 as Bianchi knocked Raikkonen out in the first round of qualifying.

2015 driver form

DriverG avgR avgR bestR worstClassifiedForm guide
Lewis Hamilton1.111.56139/9Form guide
Nico Rosberg2.111.89139/9Form guide
Daniel Ricciardo8.338.255138/9Form guide
Daniil Kvyat9.898.434127/8Form guide
Felipe Massa7.006.563159/9Form guide
Valtteri Bottas6.445.753148/9Form guide
Sebastian Vettel4.893.22159/9Form guide
Kimi Raikkonen6.784.71287/9Form guide
Fernando Alonso15.6311.0010123/8Form guide
Jenson Button16.8912.258164/8Form guide
Nico Hulkenberg11.0010.136158/9Form guide
Sergio Perez12.5610.117139/9Form guide
Max Verstappen11.0011.607175/9Form guide
Carlos Sainz Jnr11.2210.178136/9Form guide
Romain Grosjean9.789.177126/9Form guide
Pastor Maldonado10.899.677153/9Form guide
Marcus Ericsson13.1112.138148/9Form guide
Felipe Nasr12.6710.635168/8Form guide
Will Stevens18.3815.8313176/7Form guide
Roberto Merhi18.6315.4312187/8Form guide
Kevin Magnussen17.000/0Form guide

Are you going to the Hungarian Grand Prix?

Hungaroring, 2014If you’re heading to Hungary for this weekend’s race, we want to hear from you.

We’ve got a dedicated group and forum for people going to the race.

You can embed your pictures from the race via Flickr and videos via YouTube and other major video-sharing accounts. Join in here:

Over to you

Who do you think will be the team to beat in the Hungarian Grand Prix? Have your say below.

And don’t forget to enter your predictions for this weekend’s race. You can edit your predictions until the start of qualifying:

2015 Hungarian Grand Prix

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    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    28 comments on “Heavy hearts as F1 moves on to Hungary”

    1. Not sure why anyone would think of the Hungaroring as a good place for an F1 race with very limited overtaking opportunities and narrow track. Unless it rains it is usually a snoozefest in my opinion.

      1. Maybe it’s because of F1 losing it’s European venues to the likes of Russia and Abu Dhabi.

        1. @michal2009b I wonder, if it continues like this, will Valencia become a real “jewel” sometime in the future?

      2. @tonyyeb And yet last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix was one the most enthralling races I’ve ever watched.

        1. @countrygent And yet last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix experienced rain… see the second sentence of my original comment.

          1. @tonyyeb Sorry about that my friend, I did indeed overlook that second sentence. I would attempt to recover some dignity by pointing out that in the dry, it just simply appear to be F1’s front-wing stalling issue again, since we have seen some excellent dry racing there in GP2 and even in the DTM’s single trip to Budapest.

      3. Unless it rains it is usually a snoozefest in my opinion

        This holds true for every track on the calendar bar Montreal. Not sure why you would single out Hungaroring for being a boring track.

      4. @tonyyeb Because its not all about overtaking & the narrow track add’s to the challenge as there’s more room for error.

        It also means any overtakes you see actually mean something & are way more exciting to watch than on other circuits because you know the driver had to work for it (Same at Monaco).

        Aside from that its also a very fun track to drive on, Pretty fast, flowing & technical… And one which drivers over the years have said they enjoy to drive on for those reasons.

    2. @Keith You will need to correct the Ferrari entry, as Vettel won in Malaysia, not Bahrain.

      1. Maybe @keith should redirect to @keithcollantine , I’m sure “keith hpwlett” is sick of getting mentioned!

        1. Which is why i didn’t use any variation of my 1st name here. Fun to see it though.

        2. Lol my thoughts exactly

    3. It will be a very evocative qualifying session indeed as it was in Hungary twelve months ago that Jules rather symbolically outqualified Raikkonen with an utterly brilliant final qualifying lap in Q1. It was one of a number of moments that confirmed Bianchi’s potential stardom, and his status as heir to Raikkonen’s seat.

      I am looking forward to hear the paddock exchange their favourite memories of Jules this weekend.

    4. Unfortunately this will be the first race I’m going to miss since I started watching in 2010. No sure that’s a bad thing to be honest as I’m feeling like a break after the past few days, I’ll watch a replay sometime next week. Hope it’s a good one.

    5. Joni (@theflyingfinns)
      22nd July 2015, 14:31

      Fun fact about a Hungarian GP “curse” – after Michael won in 2004, none of the Hungarian GP winners have won that year’s championship. The whole 2000s it has happened only twice (MSC in 2001 & 2004).

      So either a Merc driver is cursed or we’ll get a non-Merc winner :)

      1. Well if Rosberg wins he will be doubly screwed as no driver has ever won the championship without winning at least one of the first 4 races on the calendar I believe, or if Hamilton wins then it looks like Vettel would be the new favourite.

        If you believe in such superstitions of course. I wonder if any of the drivers have reported a black cat crossing their path on social media lately?

        1. Well if Rosberg wins he will be doubly screwed as no driver has ever won the championship without winning at least one of the first 4 races on the calendar I believe

          Apart from a driver named Rosberg.

    6. while the Hungaroring may never be revered in the same way as Spa, Monza or Silverstone

      While that may be true. Keith, could you show the average rating that each of these Grand Prix have received since the time the Rate the Race poll has started (2008)? I am sure some of these ‘historic’ venues may not be so interesting anymore.

      1. Hungaroring – 7.257 (2 rain-affected races)
        Silverstone – 7.339 (2 rain-affected races)
        Spa – 7.520 (2 rain-affected races)
        Monza – 7.194 (1 rain-affected race)

    7. only the second time the race had been won by someone who did not start on the front row

      Shouldn’t that be more? I thought already 1989 and 2006 were not won from the front row.

      1. There have been no fewer than 11 Hungarian GPs which have been won from lower than 2nd (the two you mention are the only ones to have been won from lower than 4th).

    8. F1 has a habit of surprising when a boring race is expected. Either way i’m gagging for some F1 action after a 3 week break. Looking forward to seeing how much Mclaren improves by, if Force India can continue to improve with their new car, whether the the hot temps will help Ferrari mount a challenge to Mercedes or even Williams for that matter. I think we are granted an interesting weekend regardless of how entertaining the race is and remember, we have a 4 week break after this so cherish it!

    9. Hungary is something of an oddity on the F1 calendar. Until Russia joined last year it was the only former Eastern bloc country ever to have held a race. Indeed, it was brought on to take F1 behind the iron curtain, but that importance is long gone.

      Which brings me on to my main point, which is that Hungary is the only country on the calendar which is neither steeped in F1 history (Zsolt Baumgartner is their only driver), nor a lucrative new market for Bernie (I doubt the Hungarian government is paying the fees that the Middle & Far Eastern gov’ts pay).

      So, on the face of it, there has been no reason for Hungary’s continued presence on the calendar since 1990. But surprisingly, not only has it survived, but there has never been any serious doubt over its future. Meanwhile countries with more history (France, Germany) and more financial importance (India, Korea) have fallen by the wayside.

      And it’s not as if the track makes up for the lack of history or lucrativeness. Is there something I’m missing?

      1. Simple. Location and turn-out.

        1. Tom (@11mcgratht)
          23rd July 2015, 9:51

          It surely isn’t that simple. F1 management care nothing for location – if they did then France and Germany would still be around by virtue of being close to the teams’ factories and fans. Turn out also hardly matters as otherwise half the Asian races would have been pulled years ago and ticket prices wouldn’t be so excruciatingly high.

        2. Maybe not location, but turn-out, yes, and also somebody has enough money to afford to keep it going. Simple as that.

    10. It’s going to be a sad race for sure. Would be lovely to see Manor-Marussia score some points in honour of Jules.

    11. Hungary, and I say it every year, is the one race on the calendar which is always just ‘there’. Nobody really cares that much about it, nobody really hates it or loves it, nobody talks about it much, it simply exists.

      Personally I find it an uninspired layout, not really that exciting as an event, although it when it does throw up surprises they are pretty dramatic.

    Comments are closed.