2017 Hungarian Grand Prix track preview

2017 Hungarian Grand Prix

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When the Hungaroring opened to host the first Hungarian Grand Prix in 1986 few probably guessed it would become one of the most enduring circuits on the Formula One calendar.

It opened the year after F1 visited Zandvoort for the final time and has now held more world championship grands prix than the classic Dutch track.

Track data: Hungaroring

Lap length 4.381km (2.722 miles)
Grand prix distance 306.67km (190.556 miles)
Lap record (race) 1’19.071 (Michael Schumacher, 2004)
Fastest lap (any session) 1’18.436 (Rubens Barrichello, 2004, qualifying one)
2016 Rate the Race 5.05 out of 10
2016 Driver of the Weekend Kimi Raikkonen

Hungaroring track data in full

A lap of the track is bookended by pairs of hairpins. But the intervening run featured a series of switchback medium-speed corners of the type where the new generation of Formula One cars can really strut their stuff.

The teams need to find a second and a half compared to last year in order to keep their 100% run of breaking all the track records. That should be possible, but 70 runs through that middle sector is really going to take it out of the drivers. Especially if the hot Hungarian weather runs true to form.

Last year the track was resurfaced, easing many of the bumps, and had new kerbs fitted. Several drivers, including Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, were unhappy with the changes.

The difficulty of overtaking makes this a track which ‘drives well’ but doesn’t ‘race well’. “Once you brake for the first turn you don’t get much of a breather until you’re back round again and on to the straight,” says Jolyon Palmer.

“The entire circuit flows together and makes for an exciting lap, there is little room for error in terms of braking and turning points, everything has to go smoothly. It’s difficult to overtake there and it’s important to find a good rhythm.”

On the other side of this weekend’s race lies a four-week break until the next round including a two-week mandatory factory shutdown. However the teams will have the small matter of a two-day test on Tuesday and Wednesday to take care of before heading to the beaches.

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A lap of the Hungaroring

Turn one was tightened in 2003
Until 2003 turn one came up on the drivers more quickly and was a faster, broader corner. However since the start/finish line was extended the cars now drop further downhill into a tighter corner. It’s made overtaking a little easier, but not much.

The Hungaroring is a comparatively little-used venue and so the surface is fairly low on grip and takes a while to ‘rubber in’ over the course of the weekend. That puts traction at a premium, especially at the exit of slow corners like the first one.

The kink after turn one is referred to as turn ‘1A’ by some. The downhill approach to the next proper corner can catch drivers out.

“Turn two is a very tricky corner,” says Romain Grosjean, who made his only front row start to date at this track five years ago. “A long left-hand side corner going downhill. It’s important to stay on the left from the exit for the throttle application to turn three.”

The change of direction between turns two and three exposes which chassis offer the most grip. However there’s a forgiving asphalt run-off on the exit for drivers who get it wrong. The same is true at the next corner, the high-speed turn four, where drivers crest a brow and have limited visibility on the way in.

The Hungaroring kerbs were eased last year
Turn five comes up quickly after that and is “very bumpy”, notes Grosjean. From here the drivers are into the meat of the lap – the sinuous sector two where the corners come at them in a hurry.

After a slow chicane, which has been there since the track was built, the tempo picks up. The exit from turn eight feeds drivers immediately into turn nine. Expect to see drivers taking huge speeds through turns ten and eleven. Then comes a brief respite as they charge towards the final sequence of bends.

“You need to brake big into the 90-degree, right-hand side turn, then the last two turns are the key,” says Grosjean. The final two 180-degree corners require patience. “You finish with a long left corner, and then a very long right turn, where you really want to get going to get the lap done.”

2017 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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21 comments on “2017 Hungarian Grand Prix track preview”

  1. Isn’t it weird to think that the Hungarian Grand Prix has such a long history in F1 now. I mean, Hungary of all places. Nothing against Hungary or the Hungarians at all (I have a good friend who is married to a lovely Hungarian – hoping to exploit that relationship to get over to Budapest for the race one year…) but without the race the country has almost no link to the sport. Currently, or historically (note I said ‘almost’. No drivers, no teams, no engine manufacturers. A very well attended race, yes – no mean feat in this day and age. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a moan – I like the track and it seems to have come into it’s own in the (new) turbo era but I’m lost as to why it has outlasted so many other grand prix since 1986 – France, Germany, Austria, Malaysia, San Marino etc.

    1. petebaldwin (@)
      26th July 2017, 12:26

      A guy from the Hungarian government stated:

      “Without giving out secrets regarding the details of our contract, I can tell you we’ll be able to organise and run our F1 race for another five-year period under very favourable terms.

      “I can reveal the 2017 [governmental] budget submits substantial resources earmarked for the development of the circuit.

      So the first thing that jumps out is that it’s government money and the 2nd thing is that they have “very favourable terms.” I don’t know any more details but that alone highlights 2 major differences between Hungary and some of the GPs you’ve mentioned.

      Source: http://www.eurosport.com/formula-1/hungarian-grand-prix/2016/hungarian-gp-guaranteed-through-2026_sto5453737/story.shtml

    2. Poor Zsolt Baumgartner… :)

      1. or Ferenc Szisz

        1. To be fair, Szisz was a pre-F1 era driver. :)

  2. Will turn 4 be flat this year, and what about the section from turn 8 to 11?

    1. I’d be very surprised if turn 4 was flat, The exit is tight and turn 5 comes up very quickly after it…particularly if the stewards are going to be pernickety about track limits.

      It would be amazing if I was wrong though. Turn 4 is one of the most underrated high speed corners in the whole championship.

      1. @geemac ”Turn 4 is one of the most underrated high speed corners in the whole championship.” – +1.

    2. Maybe for the McLaren…

    3. Very unlikely.

      Using Rosberg’s pole lap from 2016, the speed right before T4 is 304-305 kph. The minimum speed through T4 is 208kph. That’s a massive difference, even if the cars could corner 20% faster (which would bring the minimum speed to 249kph) and were 20kph slower in the straight before T4 (284kph, and it’s likely they’ll hit similar speeds to 2016) there’s still a 35kph difference between entry speed and apex speed.

  3. My wild guess is turn 4 will be flat,

    Turns 8 to 11 will be mostly slow in … fast and flat towards turn 11.

  4. Lewis must take this win in Hungary. It’s his time. So much had already been stolen from him this year (Baku, Australia) and he need to take a stand.

    1. he need to take a stand

      on the podium right behind the Redbulls

    2. Fingers crossed for Bottas here

    3. (And of course Raikkonen if that’s not obvious)

    4. He lost fair and square in Australia, Baku I agree with you. But Vettel and Bottas have had some pretty horrid luck aswell, such as the untimely safety car in China, or Bottas DNFing in Spain which cost him 15 points, and bottas’s own grid drop in Silverstone. Vettel also had a bizarre puncture in Silverstone. So to compare Hamilton has really had the slightly better luck than his teammate and more or less equal with seb.

      1. Just to be clear safety cars affect everyone in a given race, not just Ferrari or Vettel as some would have you believe.

      2. Hamilton should have NEVER pitted into 5th place traffic under any circumstances. His team dropped the ball for no reason. As the leader of that race he controlled it until he strategist dumbed out.

  5. Sure, captain hindsight.

    1. (well that was supposed to be a reply to a comment, oh well)

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