Jenson Button: "I won my first race here; I’ll forever associate the place with getting me on the winners’ map.”
After the fast sweeps of Silverstone, Formula 1 heads to the slowest permanent circuit on the calendar next weekend. The Hungaroring is tortuously twisting and narrow, and has few fast corners. To be competitive, a car needs to have aerodynamic stability and good traction.
The Hungaroring was the first circuit in the world to be built specifically for F1. It was completed in just nine months ahead of its first grand prix in August 1986 and it’s been a permanent fixture ever since. Only six tracks on this year’s schedule have staged more grands prix than this 4.381km/2.722-mile track.
With an average speed of just 190km/h (118mph), the Hungaroring rewards low-speed traction. However, grip levels are poor early in the weekend because the asphalt is usually very dusty and slippery. This makes life very difficult for the drivers during Friday’s practice sessions, until some rubber has been laid down on the racing line.
As you’d expect on a track where overtaking is difficult, the start of the race is crucial. It’s advantageous to line up on the clean side of the grid, and the run to the first corner is 610 metres – the fourth longest of the year – so there’s a lot of jostling for position on the approach to Turn One.
The combination of old and abrasive asphalt, and high track temperatures, provides a hostile working environment for the tyres. For this reason, Pirelli are taking their Soft (Option) and Medium (Prime) tyre compounds to the race. It’s the first time this combination has been used since the Bahrain Grand Prix in April.
McLaren is the most successful constructor at the Hungaroring. The team has won there 11 times, which is more than one-third of the races staged at the track. It was also in Hungary that the team’s 2015 race drivers scored their maiden F1 wins, Fernando Alonso in 2003 and Jenson Button in 2006.
Fernando Alonso: “The car ran reliably at Silverstone, which was encouraging, and we go to Hungary hoping to add more performance. We will continue to chip away at our package until we achieve our goals. As for the Hungaroring, it holds good memories for me; it’s also a good challenge.”
Jenson Button: “I really enjoy racing at the Hungaroring. It’s a tight and twisty racetrack – a bit like a kart circuit – and the heat can make it tough physically, which is a challenge that I enjoy. I won my first race here; I’ll forever associate the place with getting me on the winners’ map.”