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.
|Location||Mogyoród, Hungary||Circuit Length||4.381 km / 2.722 mi|
|Opened||1986||First Grand Prix||1986|
|Lap Record||1:19.071 – Michael Schumacher – 2004||2018 winner||Lewis Hamilton|
Constructed in the rolling countryside some 20 kilometres outside Budapest’s city centre, the Hungaroring was once considered 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 two corners – tight near-hairpins that drops into the valley on their exit – are really the only overtaking spots, with the rest of the lap’s narrow and twisty nature providing little more than anything but a follow-my-leader procession.
|Formula 1 Rolex Magyar Nagydíj 2019 – Schedule|
|Event Dates||02-04 August 2019||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 11:00-12:30|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 15:00-16:30||Free Practice Session 3||Sat 12:00-13:00|
|Qualifying||Sat 15:00-16:00||Race (70 laps)||Sun 15:10-17:10|
Session times quoted in Central European Summer Time (GMT + 02:00)
Rewind to 2018
Lewis Hamilton kept his cool amid soaring temperatures at the Hungaroring, claiming a victory few would have predicted ahead of this weekend’s race to extend his lead in the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship standings.
Hamilton’s performance was commanding. After grafting his way to pole position in the wet on Saturday, the Mercedes driver was brilliant on a baking hot Sunday where track temperatures peaked at a tyre-melting 60°C.
He led the field away as the lights went out, with he and teammate Valtteri Bottas countering the usual fast getaways by their Ferrari rivals with a well-orchestrated run to Turn 1 to keep the red cars at bay.
Vettel, starting from fourth on the grid, swept around the outside of teammate Kimi Räikkönen with a neat move at Turn 3 as the Finn got boxed in behind Bottas at the left-hander, but he could do nothing but follow in the Mercedes driver’s wheel tracks during the first stint of the race.
With overtaking very difficult at the tight and twisty Hungaroring – although Daniel Ricciardo proved a notable exception – the two Ferraris were bottled up behind Bottas as Hamilton skipped away into a comfortable lead on the grippier Ultrasoft tyres.
Räikkönen – unable to take on any fluids thanks to a disconnected drinks bottle – made an early visit to the pits to try and force Mercedes’ hand, but a slow tyre change ensured that Bottas was able to cover him when he was called into the pits.
Hamilton continued to lead now from Vettel, who opened his race on the slower but more durable Soft compound tyres. The championship leader pitted at the end of Lap 25, while Ferrari kept Vettel out on track in the hope he could leapfrog Bottas and attack Hamilton at the end of the race when he would be on the Ultrasoft tyres.
His plans went awry when he too had a slow pit stop, emerging behind Bottas once more when he exited the pits and unable to use his Ultrasofts to their full effect.
Ferrari’s tactics had backfired thanks to their unusually poor pit stops and even second place looked to be a stretch as Bottas calmly held the two Ferraris at arm’s length. Eventually the Finn’s tyres began to go off, allowing Vettel to sneak by with the assistance of DRS on Lap 65.
Bottas tried to counter on the run to Turn 2 but only succeeded in damaging his front wing on the rear of Vettel’s car as the German turned into the left-hander. Vettel’s car was undamaged as he and Räikkönen slipped into second and third places, leaving Bottas to nurse his damaged car to the finish line.
He was quickly caught by Ricciardo, who had quickly worked his way into the top five from an out-of-position twelfth on the grid with a succession of brave passing moves at Turn 1. The Red Bull Racing driver honed up to the back of Bottas and lunged for the outside at Turn 1, but the Mercedes – down on front-end grip – clumsily understeered into the side of the Australian’s RB14.
The contact punctured a hole in the side of Ricciardo’s car, but he soldiered on and reclaimed fourth place from a frustrated Bottas, who would later be hit with a 10-second post-race time penalty that proved a moot punishment in the circumstances.
Ricciardo’s fine drive to fourth place was a poor consolation for Red Bull Racing, which was a pre-event favourite to claim victory at a circuit best suited to the car and its lack of horsepower. Max Verstappen was an early casualty, retiring with an expletive-laden radio tirade when his Renault-built engine let go.
Sixth place after a fine drive went to Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, who finished unlapped in his Honda-powered STR13 – a result that no doubt cemented Red Bull Racing’s decision to adopt the same engine its B-team gambled on this year.
Kevin Magnussen was seventh in his Haas Ferrari ahead of Fernando Alonso, with the McLaren driver celebrating his 37th birthday in eighth place. Calos Sainz Jr. was unable to maximise a season’s best fifth place in qualifying and slumped to ninth in his Renault, with the second Haas of Romain Grosjean claiming the final point in tenth.
Up front, Hamilton romped to his sixth victory in Hungary by an impressive 17 seconds ahead of the two Ferraris, an unthinkable result that put him on course to claim a fifth World Championship title and equal the record of the great Juan Manuel Fangio.
Tyre Compound Selections
While the 14-corner Hungaroring has the lowest average speed of any permanent circuity on the Formula 1 calendar, that certainly does not mean that the tyres get any respite. With successive, rapid-fire sequences of corners and barely a straight worthy of the name, the tyres get little chance to cool down.
Added to that, the Hungarian Grand Prix occurs at the height of the European summer, typically leading to extremely high track and ambient temperatures. The track surface is quite smooth, meaning wear and degradation are generally low, but high-downforce set-ups are required and this places a premium on mechanical grip.
Consequently, Pirelli has nominated the same dry-weather tyre choices used last time out in Germany, with its C2 (Hard designation), C3 (Medium) and C4 (Soft) compounds on offer.
Below shows the complete grid’s tyre choices for this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
- The Hungarian Grand Prix made its debut on the Formula 1 World Championship calendar in 1986 – becoming the first such event to take place behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ – and has been a permanent fixture ever since. This year’s event will be its 34th at the Hungaroring.
- The Hungaroring has had three different configurations during its time on the Formula 1 calendar. The first two Grands Prix in 1986-7 raced on a layout with a switchback chicane after Turn 3 before this sequence was removed in 1988. In 2003 the circuit was reprofiled, with the start/finish straight lengthened to make a tighter first turn, while Turn 12 (previously a chicane) was made into a tighter 90-degree right-hander.
- Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver at the Hungarian Grand Prix with six wins. The Briton has won three times with McLaren (2007, 2009 and 2012), as well as three times to-date with Mercedes (2013, 2016 and 2018). This year’s grid has three other drivers who have won here: Kimi Räikkönen (2005 with McLaren), Sebastian Vettel (2015 and 2017 with Ferrari) and Daniel Ricciardo (2014 with Red Bull Racing).
- Michael Schumacher has the most number of pole positions at the Hungaroring, with seven in total (1994 with Benetton; 1996-7, 2000-1 and 2004-5 with Ferrari). Hamilton has six (2007-8 and 2012 with McLaren; 2013, 2015 and 2018 with Mercedes).
- Four drivers claimed their maiden Grand Prix victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix: Damon Hill (1993 with Williams), Fernando Alonso (2003 with Renault), Jenson Button (2006 with Honda) and Heikki Kovalainen (2008 with McLaren).
- McLaren is the most successful team in the Hungarian Grand Prix’s history with 11 victories, with its first coming in 1988 with Ayrton Senna and its most recent being in 2012 at the hands of Hamilton.
- With nine podium finishes from 16 Grand Prix appearances to-date, Kimi Räikkönen has the most podium finishes at this event. The Finn also has the most fastest laps at this event, with four of the 46 he has claimed in his career occurring at this venue.
- Daniel Ricciardo will make his 162nd Grand Prix start this weekend. The Renault driver will move to 31st on the overall all-time list of Grand Prix starts, beating the tally of 161 race starts held by Ayrton Senna, Johnny Herbert and Mika Häkkinen.
- Renault will make its 374 Grand Prix start this weekend. The Enstone team, which made its Formula 1 debut in 1977 with the first turbocharged F1 car, will move to seventh on the all-time list of Grand Prix starts for constructors ahead of the Sauber team.
- Should Mercedes have either one of its drivers finish on the podium this weekend, it will move to fourth on the all-time list of podium finishers for constructors and beat the tally of 197 rostrum visits earned by the Lotus team. Only Ferrari (761), McLaren (485) and Williams (312) have more podium finishes.
The Hungary Form Guide
Championship leaders Mercedes-AMG will look to head into the four-week mid-season summer break by proving that last weekend’s embarrassing showing on home soil in Germany was a mere blip in its otherwise dominant 2019 campaign. The Brackley squad claimed just two championship points with Lewis Hamilton’s ninth-placed finish, while his teammate and closest points rival Valtteri Bottas crashed out.
That means Hamilton now leads Bottas by an extended margin of 41 points coming into this weekend; German Grand Prix winner Max Verstappen has closed to within 22 points of snatching second place in the standings from Bottas.
In the Constructors’ Championship battle, Mercedes leads Scuderia Ferrari by a reduced (albeit still very sizable) margin of 148 points, while Red Bull Racing has moved to be 44 points further behind in third place thanks to its victory at the Hockenheimring.
Past Grands Prix here have been something of a lockout for Hamilton and Mercedes, and there’s little reason to suggest that this combination won’t be up at the sharp end of the field once again. The Hungaroring’s unique high-downforce and slow-corner characteristics place a greater emphasis on chassis aerodynamics than engine horsepower, which play more to the favour of the Honda-powered Red Bull Racing team. Conversely, Scuderia Ferrari’s SF90 has shown poor slow-corner handling which could make for a difficult weekend for Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.
|2019 Hungarian Grand Prix Weather Forecast|
|Friday||16°C – 27°C||Saturday||14°C – 25°C||Sunday||14°C – 26°C|
Images via FIA, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, Pirelli Motorsport Media, Red Bull Content Pool, Sutton Images