The Hungarian Grand Prix has now been part of the Formula One calendar since 1986, and the Hungaroring has been host venue for every race on the streets of Budapest since that time, including the inaugural event that was witness to the first ever grand prix to be staged behind the iron curtain. Only Monaco and Monza have featured longer.
The Budapest track is one of low power, but it requires immense skill from the drivers to navigate this narrow, twisty and physically demanding circuit, that has often been described as an oversized kart track. With temperatures regularly soaring and overtaking not the easiest of tasks, this is a tough going grand prix for drivers in many respects.
Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton have taken the most victories at the Hungarian Grand Prix with four wins a piece, and this year the Brit could become the most successful driver ever at Budapest, if he can secure victory on Sunday.
The McLaren F1 team is by far the most successful squad at the Hungaroring circuit, with eleven wins to their name, ahead of the Williams F1 team who have seven, and Scuderia Ferrari with five.
Zsolt Baumgartner is the only Hungarian to have ever competed in a F1 race. Driving for Jordan in 2003 and Minardi the following season, he started a total of twenty races and secured just one point across his short racing career. His sole scoring opportunity came at the 2004 US Grand Prix in Indianapolis, when despite being three laps down, the Hungarian was able to bring home a result when only eight cars took the chequered flag.
Many a great battle has been played out at the Hungarian Grand Prix across the years, here are some interesting moments and facts from races gone by:
There’s a first for everything
A number of drivers secured their first ever F1 grand prix win in Hungary, two of whom are still driving today.
In 1993 Damon Hill won his first race in formula one when driving for Williams-Renault, whilst in 2003 Fernando Alonso claimed his maiden win, seeing him become the first ever Spaniard to win a F1 race, and also the youngest ever winner of a grand prix at that time, at the age of 22.
The Hungaroring is also the location of Jenson Button’s first ever F1 race win, when the Brit secured a sensational victory on a wet/dry track after starting from fourteenth on the grid, still the lowest ever grid position from which the Hungarian Grand Prix has been won.
Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen also secured his maiden and only F1 victory in Hungary, back in 2008.
Pole does not mean prizes…unless you’re Lewis Hamilton!
In bizarre fact of the day, only Lewis Hamilton has managed to win the Hungarian Grand Prix from pole in the last decade, doing so in 2007 whilst driving for McLaren-Mercedes, and also in 2012 and 2013 for current team Mercedes AMG PETRONAS.
Only Michael Schumacher (2001 and 2004), Rubens Barichello (2002) and Fernando Alonso (2003) have accomplished the same feat this century.
More surprisingly, it has been over a decade since a driver has won the race in Hungary and also gone on to win the driver’s world championship. The last driver to do that was Michael Schumacher in 2004, when driving for Ferrari.
In 2007, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were team-mates at McLaren, but as we are all now aware, they were far from being best of friends.
The tension between the two had been rising throughout the season, but it finally reached boiling point during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix when Alonso, who was currently sat in first place at the time with only a few minutes of the session remaining, was deemed to have deliberately held up Hamilton in the pits when the McLaren F1 team made a double stop, to block the Brit from being able to go any faster and claim pole position ahead of him.
The Spaniard’s treachery did not pay off however, as he was given a five place grid penalty that saw Hamilton promoted to first place.
Doing the double
Five drivers have claimed back to back wins at the Hungaroring, with Nelson Piquet winning the first two Hungarian Grand Prix in a row, in 1986 and 1987.
The 1986 race was the scene of what is considered to be one of the best overtakes of all time, when Piquet passed Ayrton Senna at Turn 1, a crucial move that likely secured him victory in that inaugural race. Triple world champion Piquet swept round the outside of Senna’s Lotus, almost in rally car style as he got his wheels on the grass and slid his Williams-Honda sideways, in front of his fellow countryman. A stunning and opportunistic move by Piquet, that his adversary would no doubt have been proud of.
Senna also went on to complete two wins in a row in Hungary, during the 1991 and 1992 seasons, with Jacques Villeneuve (1996 and 1997), Mika Hakkinen (1999 and 2000) and Lewis Hamilton (2012 and 2013) completing that list.
No driver has managed to win three races in succession in Budapest….yet!
Kimi Raikkonen rules the podium roost
Kimi Raikkonen has stood on the podium on seven occasions in Hungary, more times than any of the other current drivers on the grid, making Hungaroring the Finn’s most consistently successful track, though he has scored more race wins at Spa in Belgium.
The 2016 season has not gone to plan thus far for Raikkonen or Ferrari, so another podium visit for the Finn this weekend would be a huge bonus to the squad!
2016 Race weekend
Going into the 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix, there is just one point separating Mercedes AMG PETRONAS team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Will the pair play nice and leave each other to get on with the race, or will we see further feuds between the two drivers?
The characteristics of the Hungaroring play more to the strengths of the German squad’s rivals, with Red Bull Racing in particular likely to go well in Budapest. Can the Milton Keynes based squad take victory in Hungary this weekend?
Sebastian Vettel took a surprise win at the Hungaroring with Ferrari in 2015, the German’s first ever victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix – can the Maranello based squad up their performance and re-ignite their season into action, with a win here on Sunday? It is definitely all to play for as we head to Round 11 of the 2016 Formula One season.