We’ve barely had time to rest since an action-packed German Grand Prix, with the Formula 1 show moving swiftly to Budapest for this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
With four wins in seven outings at the circuit, Lewis Hamilton is a clear favourite to become the most successful driver ever at the tight and twisty track. Can Nico Rosberg claim back-to-back victories to extend his lead in the Drivers’ Championship standings, or could the likes of Red Bull Racing spoil the Silver Arrows show?
|FORMULA 1 PIRELLI MAGYAR NAGYDÍJ 2014
|Date||25-27 July 2014|
|Free Practice Session 1||Fri 10:00-11:30|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 14:00-15:30|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sat 10:00-11:00|
|Race (70 laps)||Sun 14:00-16:00|
|Lap Record||1:19.071 (2004)|
|2013 Winner||Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)|
* All session times are quoted in Central European Summer Time (UTC +02:00 hrs)
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.
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.
Rewind to 2013
When you look at how Mercedes has dominated the 2014 season, last year’s visit to Hungary serves as a reminder of just how much the Silver Arrows have progressed. It also reminded us of the number of surprise performances that the Hungaroring – despite its reputation for insomnia-curing races – does throw up some surprise results from time to time.
Mercedes’ 2013 season saw them, time after time, repeatedly qualify well only to fade in the races as they overcooked their tyres. Yes, they managed to win in Monaco (controversially after a secret tyre test) and also at Silverstone (when everyone else’s tyres exploded), so it would be fair to say that success had been rather flukey.
The field arrived at the Hungaroring with new tyres from Pirelli, having been furiously lobbied by several teams to change the construction after the spate of tyre failures seen in the first half of the season. Everyone had the opportunity to test the new rubber at the ‘Young Drivers’ test at Silverstone – except for Mercedes, who’d been banned as punishment for their ‘secret’ test earlier in the year.
So the Silver Arrows arrived on the back foot in Budapest with no practical experience of the new tyres. Their fears were escalated when the weekend proved to be one of the hottest in F1 history – track temperatures nudged over 60ºC! – and many felt, if past form was any judge, that they would destroy their tyres in a matter of a few corners.
Imagine the surprise of everyone when Lewis Hamilton not only qualified on pole, but led the race from start to finish to claim a record-equalling fourth win at the circuit. The Englishman won by over 11 seconds from Kimi Räikkönen’s Lotus, with the Finn managing to hold off a hard-charging Sebastian Vettel in the closing laps.
One of the most impressive showings of the day was from Romain Grosjean, who pulled off a couple of banzai overtaking moves only for the FIA Stewards to controversially rule that he’d exceeded the track limits with a particularly brilliant move on Felipe Massa’s Ferrari.
For Mercedes, the win proved to be another fluke, as Red Bull Racing – who’d lobbied hardest for the tyre construction changes – went on to have Sebastian Vettel romp to the Drivers’ Championship title by winning every single race for the rest of the year.
The Form Guide
It’s been a see-sawing battle between the Mercedes drivers as they continue their two-way battle for Drivers’ Championship honours. Nico Rosberg looked to have all of the trump cards until his gearbox packed up at Silverstone. Teammate Lewis Hamilton claimed a popular win on home soil to trim the points deficit to Rosberg to just four points. Having barely finished celebrating his win, Hamilton found himself in the barriers in qualifying at Hockenheim after a brake failure.
Lining up twentieth guaranteed Rosberg a maiden home victory and an extension to his championship lead, but it was an easy victory. Hamilton grafted and barged his way into an impressive third-placed finish to limit the points damage.
Of the pair, Hamilton is a clear favourite to return to the winners’ circule before the summer break. Along with Michael Schumacher, he holds the record for the most race wins here – four – while Rosberg’s best result here has been a fourth-placed finish in 2009 with Williams. To be fair, the German has only once had a car capable of winning here (in 2013), and he retired late in the race with a rare engine failure…
While the silver cars are likely to be the main players once again, the circuit’s slow speed nature and the possible threat of rain on Sunday will not make another 1-2 finish any kind of certainty.
The Monaco Grand Prix results are perhaps your best indicator of how the results should pan out, and this means that the Red Bull Racing Renault RB10’s mechanical grip will make it a serious threat. Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo both raced hard – but fair – against Fernando Alonso at last weekend’s race in Germany, and they should be knocking on the door of a podium this weekend.
Fellow podium chasers Williams are, by their own admission, not expected to threaten the top-three this weekend. While the Mercedes-powered FW36 has shown plenty of speed, it’s not a car that handled the slow turns particularly well. That will allow the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Force India to potentially make in-roads into the Grove team’s third-place in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
Don’t forget to enter your Hungarian Grand Prix Predictions!
Round 11 of the 2014 RichardsF1.com F1 Predictions Competition is now open for business, and you can enter and edit your Hungarian Grand Prix predictions 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 predict:
- 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! Click here to see the current points’ standings.
To enter your Hungarian Grand Prix Predictions, click here.
Images via Daily Mirror, Daimler, Lotus F1 Team, Sutton Images
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