Formula 1’s busy July concludes in Hungary for the 11th round of the season, before the teams enjoy a brief summer break. The sport arrives at the Hungaroring off the back of a thrilling race in Germany in which Nico Rosberg strolled to victory, while behind him there were battles up and down the field for position. Valtteri Bottas hung on to second position while a charging Lewis Hamilton went from 20th to third to limit the damage in the championship hunt. The Mercedes pair are separated by 14 points as the sport heads to a circuit at which Hamilton has triumphed four times in seven attempts.
One lone Hungarian Grand Prix was held before the inauguration of Formula 1 in 1936 but the event returned 50 years later and is best remembered for Nelson Piquet’s extraordinary pass on Ayrton Senna into the first corner. Over the years the track has gained a reputation for holding processional racing, largely thanks to a dusty surface and narrow, twisty layout. But it has hosted a number of entertaining races. Damon Hill almost claimed a surprise win for Arrows in 1997 while a year later Michael Schumacher’s decision to switch strategies mid-race resulted in one of the finest victories of his career. Jenson Button’s maiden win in 2006 came in tricky conditions, which were repeated five years later when the Brit triumphed at his 200th race.
The circuit’s layout is largely the same as it was in 1986, with the most noticeable alteration being the extended run to the first corner, which was introduced for the 2003 race in a bid to improve overtaking.
The switch back exiting turn one enables the left hander at two to become an overtaking chance, before the circuit drops down into three and rises at turn four, a blind fast left hander.
The long left hander at turn five opens up into a tight chicane, where a driver needs to be committed if he is to make a pass work. Following the chicane is sequence of fast corners in which those lacking in downforce – especially mechanical grip - and tyre grip will be horribly exploited. Tarmac run-off has reduced the challenge somewhat, but the barriers remain perilously close, as Sergio Pérez discovered in practice last year. The final sector, consisting of a couple of 180 degree corners will punish the front tyres, but getting a good run through the last corner is vital in setting up a move down into turn one.
“Everybody thinks of it as a slow circuit, but, out the back, it’s got some pretty decent corners – Turn Four requires some serious commitment, and it’s made harder because it has a blind apex,” says double winner Button.
“Equally, the sequence of S-bends that make up Turns Eight to 11 are really satisfying to drive.”
“The circuit is challenging and leaves little room for mistakes,” added Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg. “The second sector has several corners that are all connected, so you need to hook them all up to be quick. If you run wide on one corner you can lose the flow of the lap.”
Tyre supplier Pirelli will bring the yellow-banded Soft tyre as the Option, while the white-banded Medium is the Prime.
The DRS zones will be on the pit straight and on the short straight after turn one. There will be a sole detection point, five metres before the final corner. Five times Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro is the driver steward.
Friday 25 July
- Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
- Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30
Saturday 26 July
- Practice Three: 11:00 – 12:00
- Qualifying: 14:00
Sunday 27 July
- Race: 14:00 (70 laps or two hours)