Changing tracks: Hungaroring

This year sees the 25th F1 race at the Hungaroring.

When the track was first built it was derided for being slow, boring and lacking opportunities for overtaking.

But as track designs have become ever less varied, has the time come to re-appraise the popular view of the Hungaroring as one of the worst tracks on the calendar?

Hungaroring, Hungary – 1986

Length: 4.014km (2.494 miles)

In its original configuration the circuit was slightly shorter than it is today, and with even less room for overtaking.

The first change came in 1989 when the exit of turn three was straightened out. This had originally been a tight curve put in to avoid an underground stream.

It was a good thing the organisers managed to move it, or we might not have seen one of the most dramatic moments ever witnessed at the Hungaroring that year: Nigel Mansell’s three-abreast passing move on Ayrton Senna as the pair lapped Stefan Johansson.

Hungaroring, Hungary – 2010

Length: 4.831km (2.722 miles)

Two further changes were made to the track layout in time for the 2003 race. The start/finish straight was extended (though it remains one of the shortest on the calendar) and a new, tighter first corner built with the aim of increasing overtaking opportunities.

For the same reason the fast chicane at turn 12 was turned into a straight followed by a right-hander. The former change has had a greater effect on racing than the latter, but this is still a track with a reputation for being very hard to overtake on.

Nonetheless, after a succession of increasingly similar Hermann Tilke-designed new tracks have appeared on the calendar, perhaps it’s time we cut the Hungaroring a little slack.

As Fernando Alonso, who scored his first win here in 2003, points out, the twisty section at the back of the circuit is hard work for the drivers:

You need to drive a bit like a rally driving style all through the lap. There is no time to breathe, it?s corner after corner, it?s like a small go-kart circuit for Formula 1.
Fernando Alonso

It’s also a good venue for spectators. Set in a natural bowl, views across the circuit are good from several stands. It draws a substantial crowd from nearby countries which don’t have Grands Prix, such as Poles coming to see Robert Kubica.

After 25 years, is there now something to be said for the Hungaroring? Does it just seem better because of the quality of the new venues added to the F1 calendar in recent years? Or is it still the same unexciting, unloved venue it’s always been?

Have your say in the comments.

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95 comments on Changing tracks: Hungaroring

  1. Joey-Poey said on 28th July 2010, 23:10

    Honestly, it DID produce boring races and it STILL produces boring races. I say get rid of it.

  2. sato113 said on 28th July 2010, 23:51

    i think its a great circuit. looks really fun to drive (it is on rfactor!) and has a good crowd. i heard it’s hard on the tyres, so lets see how the supersofts work.

  3. Gusto said on 28th July 2010, 23:53

    As Monza is a hundred metre sprint, Hungary is a game of Chess.

    • sato113 said on 29th July 2010, 3:12

      i wish! seems like all f1 chess pans out the same these days…

    • dyslexicbunny said on 29th July 2010, 16:56

      But chess has team orders! I sacrifice my pawn to take better pieces all the time. Who sacrifices a castle for a pawn?

  4. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 29th July 2010, 0:10

    Compared to Barhain, Abu Dhabi, Valencia, China (if it doesn’t rain) and Barcelona, the Hungaroring is a fairly good track!

    Sad we don’t have the 1 lap qualifing format. Back then it was awesome to see all the drivers laps! One could clearly see the differences with the cars at the inside part of the track, and the different driving styles.

  5. rmac923 said on 29th July 2010, 0:16

    25 years??? Jeez, time flies!

    That said, Hungaroring is a fun yet challenging circuit to drive in rFactor. I guess the tight and twisty nature of the track makes it really difficult to overtake in modern F1 cars (It was designed to be a permanent Monte Carlo after all).

  6. Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 29th July 2010, 0:48

    I’ve always had a bit of a bizarre soft spot for Hungary. It’s narrow, twisty and uncompromising. Watching someone on a banzai qualifying lap, putting tyres on the grass and attacking the kerbs can be very exciting. Also great fun to drive on games as well – trying to take turn four flat, straightening up and braking for the hairpin in a short space of time is very satisfying to get right.

    There’s a good place for Hungary on the calendar – It’s pretty unique and it always draws a large, passionate crowd. Plus, it does tend to throw up some odd results…

  7. rfs said on 29th July 2010, 0:50

    I like it. I’m playing it in rfactor right now and I think its a blast to drive on. Though perhaps not the best racing circuit.

  8. Lachie said on 29th July 2010, 1:46

    I’m with a lot of people that back in the 90’s I would have frowned at the Hungaroring but nowadays it deserves it place much more than the Tilkedromes.

    As Alonso says it’s the ‘go-kart’ track of the calendar. I think this is what the calendar should edge towards (or back to) having circuits represent different levels of challenge rather than all being held in flat swamplands near the airport. The next step would be to hold a race on the outer circuit of Bahrain to get back a Hockenheimish blast.

  9. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 29th July 2010, 2:48

    Despite all the things Keith said about the track this track have produced some dramatic racing. Like 2006 when Button won his first GP, then in 2007 when Kimi set the fastest lap time on the last lap commenting that he became bored behind Hamilton & wanted to see what he is capable of. Then in 2008 when Massa’s engine blew just couple of laps from the finish handing the victory to Kovalainen,whose one & only race victory came on this track. & at last we say Hamilton to win the race last year with & a very difficult car.& Massa escaping a deadly accident to still race in F1.

    I think sometimes we need to have tracks where on Sunday we have some drama,may not be too much overtaking.

  10. Mike said on 29th July 2010, 2:53

    I like the track, It’s in a good place, no tracks next door etc, It always draws a crowd, a good enthusiastic intelligent crowd I might add, and the races?

    Have they really been that boring?
    The place often produces surprises, I’ve always enjoyed the races, Maybe there isn’t so much overtaking, but the races actually look good, the track it challenging, and it’s a proper F1 track.

    It’s everything a Tilkedrome isn’t, and for that, I am happy.

  11. Chris said on 29th July 2010, 3:28

    Boooring! (circuit, that is, as the post was nice)

  12. Dave Blanc said on 29th July 2010, 4:38

    I seem to recall someone telling me the most beautiful girls in the world came from Hungary. Maybe that’s why the circuit is still on the calendar???!!

    • graigchq said on 29th July 2010, 9:56

      you are 100% on that one… Serbia, Bosnia, Hungary, Bulgaria.. all have the most beautiful women ;)

  13. Pierce89 said on 29th July 2010, 6:40

    I’ve raced Hungaroring on many games and it’s extremely fun to drive on every one of them. I imagine setting a quali lap would quite fun here to the drivers.

    • The race itself may be boring but the the qualifying is very fun, many drivers like this circuit over a single lap as they said it’s twisty & there isn’t much time spend on the straight.

  14. Jean Doublet said on 29th July 2010, 7:27

    The track may be boring but not Tilke-boring. I remember some good races rewarding the underdogs. Button got its maiden win, Kovalainen its only win and Damon Hill was deprived of a magnificient victory driving for Arrow in 1997. I still remember my disappointment that day.

  15. Rob said on 29th July 2010, 8:31

    Isn’t this the track that is so boring that in the last few years of ITV broadcasting F1 MArtin Brundle would take a holiday and James Allen would be joined by someone else?

    If my memory serves me correctly it was Anthony Davidson when Jenson won, and a very Boring Damon Hill the year later.

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