The 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship enters its ‘second half’ as teams and drivers arrive in Hungary for round 11 of the 19-race calendar. Although Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing still retain commanding leads in the drivers’ and constructors’ championships, the increased recent competitiveness of both Ferrari (winners of the British GP with Fernando Alonso) and McLaren (winners of the German GP with Lewis Hamilton) have made the fight for individual grand prix victories much closer.
Since its inception in 1986, Formula One’s pioneering ‘Iron Curtain’ Grand Prix has become one of the championship’s best-established events and this year will be its 26th edition, placing it alongside Austria, Japan and San Marino in the table of ‘grands prix hosted’. The track, located 25 kilometres from Hungary’s capital, Budapest, is largely unchanged from its original layout and is notoriously tight, twisty and slippery, as it is little used between Formula One Grand Prix weekends. It has traditionally favoured cars with good mechanical grip and strong slowcorner performance. The Hungarian GP is typically associated with high temperatures; only once has it been a wet race: 2006.
FROM RACE DIRECTOR, CHARLIE WHITING “The Hungarian GP is one of the best races from an operational point of view. The Race Control side of things is absolutely first class and the Hungarian marshals are excellent. They’re always really efficient, and make this a good place to work. There’s a really nice atmosphere at the circuit, as well, which makes the Hungaroring a very enjoyable place to be: the crowd seems to be big and very enthusiastic without fail and we almost always get great weather. It’s a good place to have a race before Formula One takes its short break for summer, ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix.”
Length of lap 4.381km
Lap record 1:19.071 (Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004)
Start line/finish line offset 0.040km
Total number of race laps 70
Total race distance 306.630km
Pitlane speed limits 60km/h during practice; 100km/h during qualifying and race
Changes to the circuit since 2010
At Turns 3, 8 and 9, gravel run-offs have been replaced by asphalt with new kerbing, for a significant improvement in safety.
Fast facts, Hungarian Grand Prix
► Pirelli’s tyre compounds this weekend are prime: soft (yellow); option: supersoft (red). The nomination is the same as for the Monaco and Canadian GPs and takes account of the Hungaroring’s numerous tight corners and low average speed, with only ten seconds per lap spent at full throttle.
► The Hungaroring is one of the lowest-grip circuits on the Formula One calendar, resulting in lower than- average tyre wear. Its tight and twisting layout requires a high downforce chassis set up combined with soft rear suspension settings, to help maximise traction from its numerous low-speed corners.
► The Hungarian Grand Prix is notable for the number of multiple winners to have taken the chequered flag. Over 25 events, Michael Schumacher has won four races, Ayrton Senna three, then Mika Häkkinen, Lewis Hamilton, Damon Hill, Nelson Piquet and Jacques Villeneuve have all won twice. One-time winners are: Fernando Alonso, Rubens Barrichello, Thierry Boutsen, Jenson Button, Heikki Kovalainen, Nigel Mansell, Kimi Räikkönen and Mark Webber.
► No fewer than seven former Hungarian Grand Prix winners race this weekend: Michael Schumacher (1994, ’98, 2001, ’04); Rubens Barrichello (2002); Fernando Alonso (2003); Jenson Button (2006); Lewis Hamilton (2007); Heikki Kovalainen (2008) and Mark Webber (2010).
► Hungarian Ferenc Szisz (1873-1944) won the first ever motor racing Grand Prix, driving a Renault, on June 26, 1906 at Le Mans, France. He is commemorated with a statue at the main entrance gates of the Hungaroring.
► Zsolt Baumgartner, who raced 20 grands prix with Minardi and Jordan from 2003-4 is Hungary’s only contemporary Formula 1 representative and remains the only Hungarian to have raced in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Baumgartner raised money for his 2004 season by attracting public subscriptions to his ‘Zsolt Baumgartner Supporters’ Club’. He scored his sole Formula 1 point by finishing eighth at the 2004 US GP.
► Jenson Button, who this weekend celebrates his 200th Formula One start, took his first F1 victory at the 2006 Hungarian GP – his 113th grand prix. The win was also Honda’s first since returning to the sport as a full works team earlier that season. Honda’s only previous F1 ‘works’ wins were at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix and the 1967 Italian Grand Prix.
► At the 1995 Hungarian GP, Japanese Footwork driver Taki Inoue had the unfortunate distinction of being run over by a marshal’s car. Inoue’s Footwork-Hart FA16 had retired on lap 14 with engine failure and it began smoking after Inoue exited his car. He ran to fetch a fire extinguisher from a marshal’s post and was hit by the errant rescue vehicle as he returned to his own car. He suffered a minor leg fracture.