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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94 comments on Changing tracks: Hungaroring

  1. Paolo said on 29th July 2010, 8:41

    Yes, the track is boring and was the first of the “no-overtakes” tracks in F1, but who can forget the battle between Senna and Piquet in 1986 or the terrific win of Nigel Mansell (the greatest, ever!) in 1989??? I think that the difference now is also the quality of cars and drivers…

  2. Calum said on 29th July 2010, 10:42

    I think people’s opinions on if a track is good or not is partly to do with history and pary to do with how exciting the races are.

    One thing the new middle eastern tracks cannot have is history and character, which makes them seem bland, for example, Bahrain. After a decade or so of racing these tracks build up their own history, and some tracks change for the better. When Shanghai was laid it was perfectly level asphalt, now it has subsided, simIilarly with Sau Paulo. After This natural settling down period, these tracks produce beter racing and people like them more.

  3. Xanathos said on 29th July 2010, 10:42

    “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?”

    No, its still crap.
    The only tracks that are worse in my opinion are Valencia and the long Bahrain layout.

  4. antonyob said on 29th July 2010, 13:29

    A bit like Valencia, great place to go and watch a GP but not a great tv track.

    But who knows this year with Asoandso doing his pantomine villan bit and plenty of super quick drivers even the infamous Hungarboring might be great! And thats quite enough bad puns!

  5. Daniel said on 29th July 2010, 13:37

    It seems everyone is saying this track is great on computer. Maybe that’s a reason to hold it there, so official F1 games get to keep including a track that is fun to drive on these systems.

  6. antonyob said on 29th July 2010, 17:03

    excellent point dyslexic, it uses that analogy to great effect. though there is a famous example of the queen being sacrificed in order to win. so Massa has a chance still maybe (?)

    Im a bit old school on this and im suprised so many disagree but since the sport went mainstream you get what id call the “Whitehouse effect” – this is where people who know nothing and care less stick their beaks in and demand change as it offends some vague principle.

  7. Dan said on 29th July 2010, 17:31

    Two classic moments spring to mind instantly; 1997 with Hill’s Arrows dying after leading for so long and Villeneuve overtaking him on the grass, and Button’s first win from nowhere a few years back.

  8. ESPImperium said on 29th July 2010, 18:49

    Personally, i like the track, its like a purpose built version of Monaco with miles less glamour.

    The track is decent, there are opertunities that could be taken to lengthen it at Turn 5 if the land is there, make that into a tighter hairipn as well, not to mention make Turn 4 more open for overtaking to happen more. Id also make Turn 11 either more open or a bit tighter making overtaking into Turn 12.

    Personally, i like the track, its had lots of good moments, like Hill almost winning with an ailing Arrows-Yamaha in 1997 is one of my favrouite moments.

    Compaired to many new cuircits it actually has a personality, small and stunted with an attitude problem, but it also has an atmosphere due to it being one of the best attended races on the callander.

    For those 2 reasons im happy for it to remain, and cut it slack. Not to mention the reason that i think there should be more shorter and tighter tracks on the callender, Laguna Seca and A1 Ring would be ideal for such races.

  9. I actually like this track because the long radius and the medium speed corners do challenge the drivers. And I reckon they would be more overtaking if they removed that top chicane because onboard Barrichello chasing Nakajima, he was following really closely, but when they exited the chicane, the gap opened up.

    Remove that chicane and this track would actually be one of my favourites

  10. Torg said on 30th July 2010, 9:23

    Correct me if im wrong. Is the last part of the circuit changed for this years race?? There appears to be a longer straight and a proper right hand corner before the hairpins instead of the faster chicane they used to run through? I dont recall this in last years race. Check out the 2010 aerial view.

  11. JuanFanger said on 30th July 2010, 10:22

    Just noticed that the lap record is 1.19.071 by Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) in 2004, but the drivers are already setting times in the 1.20.9s (FP1) – is there a chance of a new lap record?

    BTW – Does anybody know how many tracks have had new lap records since 2004?

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