It’s Hungary for me in 2009

Robert Kubica during last year's Hungarian Grand Prix

Robert Kubica during last year's Hungarian Grand Prix

This year I’m planning to visit the Hungaroring to see the Hungarian Grand Prix for the first time.

Have you made any plans to go to an F1 race in 2009?

I know what everyone says about the Hungaroring: it’s slow, it’s boring, the racing is usually rubbish. Don Speekingleesh went in 2004 and said it was, “Possibly the dullest race of all time. Still had a great weekend though.”

The Hungaroring has given us some moments of drama in recent years – Jenson Button’s shock win in the wet in 2006, the McLaren affair in 2007, and Felipe Massa losing victory mere laps from the finish last year. But it’s not a track you can rely on to produce a really good F1 race. (At least, not with the pre-2009 specification cars.)

It’s an interesting venue in other ways, though: it was the only track to hold a world championship F1 race during the Soviet era. It was also the scene of one of the races that made me an F1 fan – the terrific 1989 race, which I watched on the BBC with Murray Walker, which Nigel Mansell won for Ferrari from 12th on the grid.

Part of my reason for choosing the Hungaroring that it’s a holiday destination. We’re planning to stay near Lake Balaton, which looks very pretty, from which we can pop into Budapest as well.

A quick check on the F1 Fanatic spectators’ experiences page for the Hungaroring shows one previous visitor, Cameron, who’s left some useful tips including this:

We had two blocks of tickets, one section of 2 seats in Gold 1, and one section of 3 seats in Silver 4. Sightlines from Silver 4 are fantastic, you can see much of the track due to their position on the hill rimming the valley the track resides in. Its good fun watching cars come through the tight turn 14 and onto the straight, especially the GP2 cars as they slide as their tires begin to go off. Gold 1 is directly across from the pits and gives you a great view of the start, but next time I would try Gold 4 instead, as this give you a view of the only passing zone on the track, turn 1.

Silver 4 tickets start at ??257. Of course, buying Grand Prix tickets at the moment means playing exchange rate roulette. Should we buy now and get the 5% early booking discount, or wait and see if the pound recovers against the Euro?

I haven’t forgotten about Silverstone, of course, which is holding the British Grand Prix for what could be the last time this year, and I’ll be there too if I can.

If anyone else has any tips on visiting the Hungaroring, please let me know. Have you booked tickets to see an F1 race in 2009?

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48 comments on It’s Hungary for me in 2009

  1. I’m hoping to go to Singapore, but it depends on the accommodation arrangements being made before the tickets sell out (I’m planning on staying with a friend who is moving house during 2009, but doesn’t know when yet)

  2. Lady Snowcat said on 4th January 2009, 20:27

    Just sorting out my itinerary…

    Hungary is on the list this year…

    I think work will keep me away from Oz this time but I am determined to go back next year as I loved it and being at the first race is more fun than anything…

    Well except for being at the last of course…

    So… Abu Dhabi is a must…

    Just working out which will be the first I can get to…

    It’s a bit like looking through a box of chocolates…

    Some are harder than others …

  3. Melbourne for me. I live in Melb so its very easy. Its always good to go to the 1st of the year, as all equipment,teams, and also some drivers are new. hopefully our government doesnt get rid of the race, as its been running at a loss for a few years (probably all of them) :(

  4. I’m going to the Australian GP (since it’s just around the corner) and Singapore this year. My wife will be joining me on both occasions, her first taste of F1. Hopefully this will allow me to speak about it to her in the future, since she has all but banned me from doing so at the moment! Her sister is moving to Singapore for work as of next month, so we’ll be staying for free near the circuit! Now if I could just get Max Mosley to see sense and stick Malaysia next to it on the calendar, it’d be a nice little double-header for me….

    Hungary is traditionally a hot race, isn’t it? Don’t forget your hat and umbrella, Keith. Got to look after that British skin!

  5. Only Melbourne for me this year (easy, since I live there – in fact I’m looking at the track now as my office overlooks Albert Park Lake). Melbourne is always great to attend as so much happens, plus its the first race so the atmosphere is great. Plus we rarely get a dull race, which is good.

    I would dearly love to add Silverstone to the list since its likely to be the last one, but funds won’t permit a trip to the UK, sadly. I might try & make a quick trip to Malaysia next year for Sepang, as I have a goal to attend every round of the F1 circus at some point !

    I think you’ll enjoy Hungary Keith – one thing I did notice was that the stands at the Hungaroring were full last year, so even if the race is dull (and as you say there have been some corkers at Hungary over the years) you’ll still have a good time.

  6. Too Good said on 5th January 2009, 1:28

    Suzuka is on cards for me. Suzuka is my second favorite circuit (first being Spa). I have been to two USGPs and Two Malaysian GPs before. Want to make to Suzuka mainly because of so many unknowns ( Bernie’s mood swings, Fluctuating market conditions), want to make most of the circuit being on Calendar this year.

  7. todd said on 5th January 2009, 1:34

    since i live in Thailand, i’m going to try and head over to the Malaysian GP again – maybe.

    last time i was there it was hideously boring and poorly organized in terms of crowd control.

    the entire race weekend had 1 supporting race. the porches which do like 6 laps.

    unlike Australia, which is non stop racing – mini’s, hondas, GT cars (ferrais etc) and the v8’s, Malaysia was just boring as ****. all day just looking at grass waiting for the next f1 session to start a few hours away.

    and most of the place is empty all weekend, only the Sunday people show up, and it’s seriously, people show up 30 mins before, and leave straight after.

    again, in Australia, you show up at like 9am and there’s racing all day long. in Malaysia its just the f1, so there’s a sudden rush of people in, then a sudden rush of people out. i really don’t see why they should keep racing at Malaysia and put Melbourne on the chopping block.

    actually, after remembering how bad the weekend was and how ripped off you get by the taxi drivers i don’t think i’ll go actually.

    oh yeah, a word on the taxi’s – since there’s that massive everyone in, everyone at the same time, taxi’s charge upwards of 10x their normal rates.

  8. Gman said on 5th January 2009, 3:26

    First, my best wishes to Keith and all of you on your Grand Prix plans. I hope your trips are a safe and enjoyable experience- be sure to tell us all about them :) On the same hand, it is deeply disappointing for me to not have anything to contribute. If the USGP was still at a venue within driving distance for me, I would be there, and even without it I was considering going to Montreal this season. I am currently in graduate school and the career-building mode, so for the moment is is a bit tough to plan a trip to a GP on a different continent. As a result, I have no F1 race to attend this year, and it is very disappointing for me.

    Outside of that, while it would never compare to an F1 race, I may make the short drive to Pocono for one of the two NASCAR dates- I’ve got a connection that may be able to land me paddock passes, just for something neat to see. Other than motorsport, I”ll see the new Yankee Stadium a few times, and will also see the Yanks play a series in Cleveland at Jacobs Field.

    Hopefully in 2010, I’ll be able to contribute something here, and in the years ahead I very much hope to visit many of the venues you’re talking about. Again, best wishes everyone :)

  9. Silverstone and Singapore.

    Thinking hard about Melbourne and/or Sepang but still have a bit of scheduling problem

    @ Journeyer – if you get your seats for Sepang facing the start finish line (grandstand K I believe), make sure you get the very first sector, towards the right edge of the grandstand. the further to the left you get the less you see.

    • Journeyer said on 5th January 2009, 9:05

      Hey Wolf – I already bought my Sepang tickets, I wasn’t given a chance to choose my exact seats, though.

      But I’m not at Grandstand K, I’m sitting at the Mall Grandstand – just in front of the podium and start-finish line.

  10. Won’t be going to any this year… Cost too much travelling from New Zealand… buy we would love to travel to the British Grand Prix in 2010

  11. As others have said, the roads get very busy so don’t leave it too late to get to the track on the Sunday. Most of Budapest seems to go to the GP.

    It’ll also be worth sparing a couple of days to look round Budapest – a beautiful city with an interesting past.

  12. We’re planning to stay in the Eiffel region in Germany for a week, just after the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, so I might get some tickets and visit the race.

  13. I’ve been to the Hungarian GP quite a few times and my suggestion is to get there early as roads leading up to the track are narrow and tend to get clogged up quickly. Same for the parking spaces: later in the morning you might end up hunting for a free one for ages. More so as Silver 4 is around the busiest area of the venue.
    The aqua park is at the top of the track (corners 9-12 area) but I wouldn’t go there on the day of the race for the same reasons said above.

  14. Patrickl said on 5th January 2009, 11:16

    I went to the Hungarian GP in 1999. There was a solar eclipse around the same time so it seemed like a good time to go.

    I had no traffic jams on the motorway back then. Although the toll way was a lot better than the free N-road on the other side of the track. On friday I drove to far around the track and was sent onto the N-Road and got stuck in with the regular hungarians on the road. The other days I made sure the nearest exist was the toll way and things went fine.

    I did have a hell of a time getting off the parking place though. Took us hours to get out of the spot.

    There was a spot near the track where there was some height difference. Even on a sunny day people had a lot of trouble getting out of there. I’d advise not to go down there.

    I didn’t have grandstand tickstes so I was standing all day. Quite a nightmare on race day in the blistering heat, the dust and the huge crowd. Most people were there very early I was there at 8’o clock or something and the side of the mount was filled with lawn furniture already.

    Saturday and Friday were great. Got to walk around most of the track and see the cars from every vantage point. I think we had a lot more sessions back then.

    Budapest is nice too. You can see the drivers if you go past the big hotels. Not sure why, but somehow there is some attraction in seeing an f1 driver get out of a car and walk into a hotel.

    Hungary is a nice place for a vacation. It’s a bit like the south of France without the rude people. Back then everything was really cheap too. I got 200 euro (well actually guilders then still) transferred to Hungarian money and I had a hard time getting it al spent in a week. I had to go for the most expensive things on the menu to make a dent.

    We had a hungarian woman in the group. This is pretty handy because a lot of people didn’t speak any english.

  15. graham228221 said on 5th January 2009, 11:58

    The Hungaroring was the “the only track to hold a world championship F1 race during the Soviet era”? Sounds like a sparse 40 years of F1, lol =P

    One day, many years from now, I’m determined to be able to afford a trip to see a Grand Prix! I’d really love to go, but the ticket and the logistics is just too much.

    My friend got a job as a chef for the British GP this year, I was thinking about asking him to get me a job this year as it’s the closest I’m going to get!

    And he’s not even an F1 fan =(

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