This weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix marks the 30th anniversary of a race which was a radical addition to the schedule in 1986.
In many ways the Hungaroring was the template for what was to follow as Bernie Ecclestone transported F1 to a series of venues with little in the way of a tradition of motor racing. However, unlike many of its successors, the Hungarian Grand Prix has endured, and its current contract will keep it on the schedule until at least its 40th anniversary.
The track layout has changed little from the configuration originally devised by Istvan Papp. The largest revision came in 2003 when the start/finish straight was extended and two later corners revised in an unsuccessful bid to shake off its reputation as an overtaking-free zone.
However the track has provided some of the more memorable races of the ‘Pirelli era’. And it remains to be seen what effort the resurfacing of the track during the off-season may have on this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix: and whether more track records will tumble this weekend.
A lap of the Hungaroring
This is the latest (and not the last) round of the championship to take place on a resurfaced course. Formula Three, Formula V8 3.5 and other championships have already sampled the new course and the F1 drivers can look forward to a smoother ride around the 4.381-kilometre venue.
In Austria the new track surface led to considerably higher temperatures during practice and qualifying. If the same phenomenon is repeated this weekend Pirelli’s rubber could be in for some serious punishment at what is often one of the hottest races of the season.
The longest straight on the circuit measures less than a kilometre and leads to the sharp turn one hairpin which typically offers the best opportunity for overtaking. Battles for position often continue on the subsequent run to turn two.
The track slopes downhill here, inducing understeer, and right-hander which follows immediately after is taken flat-out in qualifying. The drivers then have a chance to build up speed again before tackling the fast turn four, the approach to which is obscured by the brow of the hill.
The drivers are now in a rapid sequence of corners beginning with a slow and long right-hander. This feeds into a chicane which Esteban Gutierrez describes as “very slow, but interesting because you can use all the kerb on the apex and exit”.
From here on tyre management becomes a particular concern on a flying lap, though it remains to be seen how the resurfacing will affect this. “You come out of that corner with the tyres overheated and approaching the next sequence of corners,” explain Gutierrez.
“It becomes very challenging because you need to keep the temperature on the tyres low and you’re trying to make the corners in the best way, sometimes sliding the car, pushing on the limit.”
From turn eight the entrance to each of the following three corners is dictated by how well the driver tackles the preceding bend. This is not only challenging for the drivers, but also places a high demand on the responsiveness of their turbos. Drive-ability counts more than outright engine power at the Hungaroring.
After turn eleven the drivers enjoy a brief straight before tackling a 90-degree right-hander. A pair of hairpins returns them to the pit straight.
2016 Hungarian Grand Prix
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- 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix TV Times
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