Following the untimely passing of Jules Bianchi last Friday, Formula 1 arrives at the Hungarian Grand Prix in a sombre mood, but ready to put on a good show in honour of the late Frenchman. The event has become one of the most popular on the calendar due to its proximity to the vibrant city of Budapest in the height of the summer. The Hungaroring has often been described as ‘Monaco without the walls’ and often produces intrigue and drama before the sport takes a break for the summer period.
The Hungaroring this year celebrates its 30th Formula 1 race, having been a mainstay on the calendar since its debut back in 1986. The 4.3km circuit has remained largely unchanged across its history, with the most recent major change coming in 2003, when the main straight was lengthened, turning the first corner into a sharper hairpin. The majority of the track comprises low to medium speed bends, though the middle section of the lap requires a car which copes well with rapid changes of direction.
“The track is very demanding for the tyres,” explains Sauber’s Felipe Nasr. “We need to have a lot of braking stability, as well as good traction. As a driver, on this track you feel as if you are busy all the time. You always have to be concentrating for the next corner.
“The track itself is very technical: you need good traction to exit the low-speed corners and you have to be very accurate and precise,” adds Force India’s Sergio Perez. “Because it's so twisty, it feels like you are always in a corner and it’s not easy to follow other cars or overtake, so a good qualifying result becomes even more important. It's also quite demanding on the tyres, so it's important to look after them when you can.”
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton leads team-mate Nico Rosberg in the standings by 17 points and has a healthy record at the Hungaroring.
Hamilton has taken four victories from his eight visits to the circuit – including his first with Mercedes in 2013 – while Rosberg, who claimed pole position in 2014, has yet to climb onto the podium at the venue.
Other Hungarian Grand Prix victors in the field include McLaren pair Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button, who both secured their maiden Formula 1 wins at the track, in 2003 and 2006 respectively.
Kimi Räikkönen won in 2005 while racing for McLaren and Daniel Ricciardo triumphed 12 months ago in a thrilling wet/dry event, taking the lead with just three laps remaining.
Pirelli has opted to bring the Soft (yellow) and Medium (white) tyre in order to provide sufficient mechanical grip, but capable of withstanding the circuit layout and anticipated high temperatures.
The DRS zones will be on the pit straight and between Turns 1 and 2.
The driver steward for this weekend’s event will be Le Mans legend Emanuele Pirro.
Timetable (GMT +2):
Friday 24 July
- Practice One: 10:00 – 11:30
- Practice Two: 14:00 – 15:30
Saturday 25 July
- Practice Three: 11:00 – 12:00
- Qualifying: 14:00 (60 minutes)
Sunday 26 July
- Race: 14:00 (70 laps or two hours)