This weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix marks the final outing for Formula 1 machinery before the weary drivers and team personnel take a well-earned summer break before the championship battle begins in earnest once again.
But before everyone puts their feet up, there’s the matter of the challenging Hungaroring to tackle. And with the focus – once again – all on tyres, the forecasted extreme heat could turn the championship battle on its head as the field gets to grips with Pirelli’s latest tyre offerings.
Let’s take a look at our 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview…
FORMULA 1 MAGYAR NAGYDÍJ 2013
|Date:||26-28 July 2013|
|Race Lap Record:||1:19.071, Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004) – 2004|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 10:00-11:30|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 14:00-15:30|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sat 11:00-12:00|
|Race (70 laps, 306.630km)||Sun 14:00-16:00|
|Past Ten Winners:||Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes MP4-27)||2012|
|Jenson Button (McLaren Mercedes MP4-26)||2011|
|Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing Renault RB6)||2010|
|Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes MP4-24)||2009|
|Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren Mercedes MP4-23)||2008|
|Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes MP4-22)||2007|
|Jenson Button (Honda RA106)||2006|
|Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren Mercedes MP4-20)||2005|
|Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2004)||2004|
|Fernando Alonso (Renault R23)||2003|
All event times are quoted in CEST (GMT +2).
Constructed in the rolling countryside some 20 kilometres outside Budapest’s city centre, the Hungaroring is a predecessor of the rather soulless autodromes which Hermann Tilke seems to have replicated around the world in subsequent years.
Its corners are largely slow, and the narrow dusty circuit limits overtaking opportunities, which has led to frustrations for faster drivers and plenty of collisions between combatants. Former World Champion Alan Jones likened it to “Monaco in a paddock”!
The first corner – a tight right-hander that drops into the valley on its exit (it was reprofiled and tightened in 2003) – is really the only overtaking spot, but the preceding main straight is generally too short for a faster car to get enough of a tow to blast past.
In the opinions of many, the Hungaroring is an opportunity wasted to make motorsport truly take off in eastern Europe, and its narrow, twisty nature provides little than anything but a follow-my-leader procession.
By contrast, it has proven to be a well-attended and highly-praised venue on the rare occasion that it hosts touring car events, with tin-tops seeming to suffer little of the overtaking issues experienced by open-wheel racers, largely on account of the greatly increased braking distances needed for the much heavier saloons.
Take a look at our Hungaroring Circuit Guide:
The History Bit
Conceived by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone as a way of getting Formula 1 behind the ‘Iron Curtain’, the Hungarian Grand Prix made its debut in the 1986 season and has been a mainstay on the F1 calendar ever since.
Despite not enjoying much of a reputation for racing, the Hungaroring has provided some memorable moments over its 25+ years of hosting the Formula 1 Grand Prix circus. Here are our five favourite Hungarian Grands Prix:
1989: Nigel Mansell stormed to victory for Ferrari from a lowly 12th on the grid, taking the lead from Ayrton Senna with a typically brilliant opportunistic pass while the Brazilian was trying to lap Stefan Johansson’s Onyx.
1990: A race that proved to be more about stealth, with Ayrton Senna hunting down Thierry Boutsen’s Williams after the Brazilian had crudely shoved Alessandro Nannini off the circuit. Somehow, the Belgian driver withstood the most enormous pressure for lap after lap from the Brazilian maestro to win by just a car’s length.
1997: With Damon Hill having made his mark at the circuit with straightforward wins in 1993 and 1994, he looked on course for a shock third win when he hauled his unfancied Arrows into the lead with an outstanding passing move on Michael Schumacher into Turn 1, and led until the final lap when his throttle failed. Jacques Villeneuve snuck through to claim a lucky win.
1998: This race provided fans with one of the finest examples of the Ross Brawn / Michael Schumacher partnership, when the German made an unfancied three-stop strategy work in favour to take a sensational victory in his Ferrari and keep himself in the championship hunt. Many regard it as among the German’s greatest of his 91 race victories.
2006: The first proper wet race to hit the circuit in two decades of Grand Prix racing here, it was one of the most eventful wet-weather races in the sport’s history. In a crazy race, Jenson Button claimed his maiden victory after qualifying in the midfield, having mastered the slippery conditions better than anyone.
Hungaroring Stat Attack
Here are some fast facts about this year’s Hungarian Grand Prix:
Seven different constructors have claimed victory over the 27 years that the Hungarian Grand Prix has been run. McLaren is by far the most successful, with eleven victories, including five of the last six races staged at the Hungaroring. Williams (7) and Ferrari (5) are the only other multiple-winning teams, while Red Bull Racing, Honda, Renault and Benetton have one apiece.
Four drivers claimed their maiden Formula 1 victory at the Hungaroring, with the last to do so being Heikki Kovalainen in 2008. Other maiden race-winners include Jenson Button (2006), Fernando Alonso (2003) and Damon Hill (1993).
With the race holding a traditional calendar slot in the European summer, it took until the event’s twenty-first running before it staged a rain-affected Grand Prix. That was in 2006, where Jenson Button claimed victory in a thrilling race.
In 2001, Michael Schumacher equalled Alain Prost’s then-record of 51 Grand Prix wins; it was also the drive that secured the German his fourth World Championship title to match Prost’s career tally.
Adrian Sutil will make his 100th Grand Prix race start on Sunday; he will become the 64th driver in the sport’s history to achieve this feat.
Hungaroring Talking Points
So what are this weekend’s critical talking points? Let’s see what our expert analysts have to say…
“Ah, the GP weekend beckons again…and this time with plenty of things occupying our mind (although, isn’t that always the case with F1?). Will we see Ricciardo outshine his
opponent teammate as he proves he is worthy of Webber’s seat? In fact, will we see Webber perform a little better because there is no longer a whole bunch of questions and pressure? Seat talk aside, it will be interesting to see if the recent testing at Silverstone will have any effect on how tyres are handled and will perform over the weekend. Given Mercedes’ terrible record with tyres and the fact that they weren’t allowed to test (which I still disagree with, they didn’t do anything dodgy, the other teams just got jealous!) they might struggle a bit, particularly with this expected heatwave. Either way, I’d like to see Lotus back on that podium and Alonso giving Vettel a good run for his Championship.” – Yassmin Abdel-Magied, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“One word can be used to encapsulate Mercedes’ entire F1 campaign this year: Unpredictable. This trend, or more applicably the absence of a trend, shows no signs of relenting for the Silver Arrows at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix. So what have we deduced about the Brackley based team this year? We know that the F1 W04 is exceptionally fast over a one lap dash, with Hamilton and Rosberg regular starters on the front row of the grid. We also know that the 2013 entry chews through rubber at a rate of knots in hotter conditions, and this would indicate a difficult outing at the Hungaroring where scorching temperatures are forecasted. A potentially more durable tyre and a tight circuit plays to their qualifying strengths, however without having tested Pirelli’s updated dry weather compounds, it will be fascinating to see what they have in store for us this weekend.” – Tristan Clark, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“Although it may have been somewhat of a mini break for most fans, teams were working throughout the weeks in preparation for the ‘young’ drivers test. I say ’young’ because instead of serving its purpose – preparing young talent for F1 – teams used the three days as a free pass to test Pirelli tyres, which have been under scrutiny for safety concerns. Since the FIA made it clear that the only testing that could be carried out with senior drivers was front wing adjustments, teams came round and gave their young talent a run. The ban Mercedes received was originally thought to be a slap on the wrist, but now that the rest of the field have a better understanding of the tyres, they’ll be playing catch-up this week at the Hungaroring. And with temperatures expected to hit 40 degrees on Sunday, they may struggle with tyre degradation.” ” – Josh Kruse, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“As a regularly standing conspiracy theorist and a proud Aussie, some recent circumstances at the Red Bull team are now starting to pique my curiosity. Why do so many “unfortunate incidents”, such as numerous poor starts from strong qualifying positions seem to befall Mark Webber due to clutch issues, yet in a supposedly identical car, Sebastian Vettel never has this problem? Why does Webber seem to lose a wheel in the pit lane one lap after the same mechanics perform another faultless pit stop on Sebastian Vettel? It’s no secret Helmut Marko is a card-carrying member of the Sebastian Vettel Fan Club, and will likely not be in attendance at Mark Webber’s farewell party at the end of the year. The pieces all fit into place don’t they? You might as well stand up also. If history is any indication, McLaren should own this weekend in Hungary. They’ve won five of the last six races here and have 11 trophies from Budapest, with Jenson Button twice a winner already himself. However, the McLarens just aren’t there this year, so if another McLaren win were to eventuate, it will probably be a minor miracle or the result or utter carnage which takes out the majority of the Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes runners. But strangers things have happened. All things considered, it should still be a cracker of a race. Bring on a return to racing!” – Matt Lennon, RichardsF1.com IndyCar Series Journalist
“Does anybody know much about Hungary? The country that is. No disrespect intended, but besides the annual race at the Hungaroring, I struggle to think of anything that Hungary has given us on the world stage. Zsolt Baumgartner? Well there’s a start, but it’s race really has never been more of a ‘road version of Monaco without the glamour’. It’s actually surprising to me that this race has remained on the calendar for as long as it has. Maybe the Hungarian F1 fans are just too vocal to let it slip? Or maybe it’s the only thing going for the country every year? Whatever the case, I await this weekend’s Grand Prix with a sense of calm, as I expect another two hour snooze fest in a country that makes me think of food. Oh, who will win? Hamilton. Wake me up when the chequered flag is waved.” – Ben Waterworth, The Qualifying Lap radio show host
The Form Guide
Mastering Pirelli’s new rubber – combining the 2013 compounds with 2012-style construction – will be the main challenge as the field gets down to business this weekend.
Certainly, all of the teams – bar Mercedes – have had three trouble-free days of testing in which to get some understanding of the new tyres, but exactly how (or even if) this changes the form guide won’t be known until qualifying at the soonest, if not at least until the next few Grands Prix have come and gone…
It’s difficult to see how the new tyre compounds would affect the red-hot form being enjoyed by Red Bull Racing, which – were it not for Sebastian Vettel’s gearbox packing up in the final laps of the British Grand Prix – would be on a three-race winning streak entering this weekend’s events in Budapest, another venue where the young German is yet to taste the victory champagne.
Ferrari and Lotus should both do well here. Their respective F138 and E21 challengers are famously gentle on their tyres, and that should be an added benefit if the mercury climbs as much as is predicted for Sunday’s 70-lap race.
For the year’s fourth-ranked team, Mercedes, this weekend will be the ultimate test. After being banned from the ‘Young Drivers’ test because of their indiscreet interpretation of the in-season testing rules, the Silver Arrows will start massively behind the eight-ball when Friday practice gets going, with it being the F1W04’s first outing on the new-spec Pirelli tyres.
This is hardly the preparation that either Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg would want, and the pair will have a massive task ahead of them to challenge for podium positions, particularly if these supposedly more-durable tyres do not prove the step the team needs to cure its early-season tyre troubles.
The battle for fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship is heating up once again, with McLaren earning its first points finish in two races last time out in Germany, while Force India conversely finds itself in something of a rut with its first failure to finish in the points since its double-DNF in Malaysia.
McLaren closed the deficit to Force India to just ten points, and with the Silverstone team slowing down in its development of its VJM06 as its small budget starts to feel the stretch, McLaren is well-placed to pounce as the rest of the season will simply be about salvaging some pride.
With seven wins at this venue, the Williams team isn’t within a hope or prayer of claiming an eighth this weekend, let alone scraping together a points’ finish in what is the worst season in the illustrious team’s history. Perhaps the slow circuit will suit the characteristics of the FW35, and that may give Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas a sniff of a top-ten finish.
Don’t forget to enter your F1 Predictions!
This weekend’s round of our 2013 RichardsF1.com F1 Predictions Competition is now open for business, and you can enter and edit your predictions for the 2013 Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix right up until five minutes before qualifying!
Entry is open to all of our readers, and it’s so easy to submit your predictions! All you’ll need to do is correctly guess:
- which driver will win pole position and the race
- which two teams will earn the best finishes in the race
- which eight drivers will finish in the top-eight positions
- who will post the fastest lap of the race
- who will gain the most positions relative to their starting position
You can also choose to ‘double up’ your points tally for the Hungarian Grand Prix – but be careful, you can only do this twice per season!
To view the current points standings, click here.
To enter your 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix Predictions, click here.
As always, RichardsF1.com will be bringing you the best of the on- and off-track action this weekend, so make sure we’re your first port of call for your Hungarian Grand Prix fix!