Summer in the city at Budapest

Summer in the city at Budapest

Hungary was listed on the Grand Prix calendar in the early thirties but it wasn't actually until 1936 that a race was held. A 3.1 mile track was laid out in a park in Budapest and Ferrari, Mercedes and Auto Union (now Audi) competed in the event.

Hungary was listed on the Grand Prix calendar in the early thirties but it wasn't actually until 1936 that a race was held. A 3.1 mile track was laid out in a park in Budapest and Ferrari, Mercedes and Auto Union (now Audi) competed in the event. However, racing disappeared in the war years and it wasn't until the sixties that it made a return.

View from Citadella.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
Formula Junior cars raced at Budapest airport until the original 3.1 mile track was revised in the mid sixties. European Touring Cars visited Hungary but it was in the early eighties that Formula One began looking at the country as a suitable host. Hungary was still behind the Iron Curtain at the time and negotiations for a Russian GP had come to nothing.

The government built a new, 4 km circuit just outside Budapest, the Hungaroring, which was completed in 1986. The first F1 championship race was held in the August and was won by Nelson Piquet for Williams.

Piquet won again the following year; other successful drivers at the Hungaroring have been Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, three wins, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, and Mika Hakkinen, all with two victories apiece.

The Budapest track has been altered somewhat this year; the pit straight is longer and the circuit itself has been lengthened slightly by one of the last corners being straightened. Maximum downforce is usually the norm on the tight, twisty layout and good mechanical grip is an essential requirement. There are no particularly fast corners and the Hungaroring is one of the tracks where overtaking is very difficult.

The temperature in Budapest can get very high, a good cooling system is needed, and the track is bumpy and usually very dusty. But the surface is quite smooth and the circuit is one of the slower ones on the calendar. Tyre degradation is quite high and even a very slight off-track excursion can take maybe half a dozen corners to clean the tyres off. Compounds will probably be in the softer end of the range as teams search for grip.

Rubens Barrichello won last year's race from pole position and a one-two finish with Michael Schumacher gave Ferrari its fourth Constructors' title. Ferrari had an easy time of things but Juan Pablo Montoya battled with Kimi Raikkonen. The Colombian ran wide and damaged the underbody of the Williams and spent the rest of the race fighting with his own car rather than anyone else's.

Team Ferrari celebrating its 4th consecutive Constructors World Championship.
Photo by Ferrari Media Center.
Teammate Ralf Schumacher had an uneventful time to finish third and the two McLarens were fourth and fifth, Raikkonen leading David Coulthard, and Jordan's Giancarlo Fisichella took the final position for a point in sixth. Surprisingly, for a track that usually has a high rate of attrition, only four cars did not finish.

The last four races of the season should be good; the championship is still wide open and it's difficult to predict what may happen. Williams should carry through its strong performances from the last couple of races, although the Hungaroring has not been a particularly good track for the team in the past.

With no testing since Hockenheim, so no chance to put any factory developments into practice, it's not likely Ferrari will have found a way to improve its performance. But Hungary does not seem to be a circuit that favours any one team although, with the exception of Benetton in 1994, only Ferrari, Williams and McLaren have won at the track. McLaren needs a good result here to keep its and Raikkonen's title hopes alive. After a three week summer break, everyone will be fighting fit and raring to go at the Hungaroring.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams , Benetton , Jordan