The Hungarian Grand Prix (Magyar Nagydíj in Hungarian) is the first Formula One sanctioned World Championship event organised behind the Iron Curtain in 1986. It is an important event in the Formula One calendar because it is organised during the peak of the summer and precedes the summer break for the teams.
The race has been run continuously since 1986 and recently concluded the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix. Drivers enjoy driving on the 4.381 km long circuit despite knowing that it is very difficult to overtake on the narrow track.
Hungary is a country which is a part of the Schengen area which comprises 26 countries as well as a part of the Europen Union. It provides visa-free entry and borderless travel for most travellers from western countries.
Hungary’s currency is the Hungarian Forint (HUF) and is widely accepted across Europe. Although Hungarian is widely spoken across Hungary, many neighbouring European languages are also spoken. English is widely spoken in Budapest and getting by for an English speaker is not a problem.
Hungaroring: Circuit Information (2003-Now)
Lap length: 4.381 km
No of turns: 14
No of laps: 70 laps
Race distance: 306.67 km
Race direction: Clockwise
Race lap record: 1:16.627 Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes W11, 2020
Pole record: 1:13.447 Lewis Hamilton. Mercedes W11, 2020
When was the first Hungarian Grand Prix?
In 1936 a 5km long track was made ready in Népliget, the People’s Park in Budapestirst Hungarian. The first Hungarian Grand Prix was held on 21 June 1936. Mercedes-Benz, auto Union and Ferrari cars equipped with Alfa-Romeo engines participated and the event drew huge crowds.
Then World War II intervened and all motor racing stopped in Hungary as well as throughout Western Europe. It was 50 years before Hungary held a Grand Prix at Hungaroring, only, this was a World Championship event.
In the ‘80s Bernie Eccelstone was looking to hold a World Championship event behind the Iron Curtain. Upon a friend’s suggestion, he dropped Moscow from his plans and visited Budapest. He wanted to develop the circuit at Népliget.
The Hungarian government, however, chose a spot at Mogyoród, a small traditional village just outside Budapest. The construction of the circuit was completed in just eight months and called Hungaroring. The first Hungarian Grand Prix of the post-war era was held on 24 March 1986.
Which are the memorable races at Hungaroring?
Formula One drivers love a challenge and will never take no for an answer. It is for that reason that the Hungaroring has hosted several memorable races during its uninterrupted run of 35 years as a venue for World Championship events.
Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna’s duels at the venue are fondly recalled. So is the fact that Nigel Mansell lost a wheel in 1987. In 1989, Nigel Mansell demonstrated why he was worshipped in Great Britain.
Mansell started in the 12th position on the grid and passed the first four by the first turn. After that he overtook car after car even as a few competitors retired due to mechanical problems or lost time changing tyres.
He was trailing Senna, both were trying to lap Stefan Johansson in an Onyx. Senna got stuck behind Johansson and Mansell overtook him. Mansell took the race in his Ferrari, nearly 26 seconds ahead of Ayrton Senna driving a McLaren Honda.
Damon Hill (1993), Fernando Alonso (2003), Jenson Button (2006 on the first wet Hungaroring track) and Heiki Kovalainen all won their maiden wins on the Budapest circuit. Damon Hill missed winning the race in 1997 but had to coast to second place after losing his drive on the last lap.
Michael Schumacher equalled two records held by another legend, the Frenchman Alain Prost in 2001. In winning the event, he had 51 Grand Prix wins as well as clinched his fourth career World Drivers’ Championship. Both the records were held by Alain Prost.
The Hungaroring circuit is similar to Monaco Circuit, which is what Bernie Eccelstone wanted, minus the buildings lining the latter’s track. It has the same tight and twisty corners and the narrow track which makes it difficult to overtake. Thierry Boutson kept Ayrton Senna, the championship’s points leader, behind his slower Williams and won the race in 1990.
What changes were made to Hungaroring over the years?
1989 saw the first changes made to Hunaororing as the chicane after Turn 3 was culverted over the spring. The chicane was introduced as the spring was discovered when constructing the track in 1985.
In 2003 the main straight was lengthened by 200 meters and the hairpin at the end of the main straight was tightened. In a bid to increase drivers’ chances of overtaking, Turn 12 was also tightened the same year.
The 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix was the first Grand Prix when it rained at Hungaroring. Jenson Button forsook a pit stop when the safety car came out after a pit stop. He was challenging Fernando Alonso when he had to stop to refuel. When Alonso stopped to change tyres he lost a wheel nut on his tyre and Button cruised to victory.
What is driving on Hungaroring like?
The Hungarian Grand Prix is held in mid-summer which is very hot and dry in this part of Europe. The circuit is not used throughout the year and is dusty as a result. The circuit is located in a valley and more than half the circuit can be seen from most points.
Most tracks in the world, if they are underused, get faster over the racing weekend as tarmac is coated with rubber from the racing car tyres. But Hungaroring doesn’t follow the norm because of the drier climate and the sandy soil around the circuit.
Nonetheless, drivers always reserve their best for later laps hoping the track grips faster after the initial practice and qualifying sessions. The circuit is also twisty and bumpy and along with the dust and the narrow track makes overtaking very difficult in dry weather.
The track is slow and bordered on boring before 2003. Now speeds are much higher with Lewis Hamilton reaching an average speed of 204.552 km/h during the race. The Main straight with the start-finish line is the only straight of significance.
With fewer long straights and 14 turns, drivers have to change gears in milliseconds. Their cars also have to respond instantly to the pressure on the accelerator when coming out of the turns. This means the cars also need much more down force than on other circuits.
Cars also need mechanical grip because of the dusty track, the sandy soil and the hot and humid weather. If it rains, conditions change drastically and Pirelli’s wet tyres come into the picture as happened in 2006 when Jenson Button won the race.
Drivers need to be careful on Turn 2, Turns 8 and 9 and on turn 14, the last turn of the circuit before the start-finish line. On negotiating Turn 1 cars braking into Turn 2. It is easy to lose the racing line by braking too late or by accelerating too early coming out of the turn.
An error on this turn makes the driver open to overtaking and the risk carriers through turn 3 and the following short straight. Once out of the chicane comprising Turns 6 and 7 cars accelerate through a small burst of speed before slowing down to tackle turn 8.
Drivers change gears very fast along with Turns 8 and 9 to retain their line. Too much speed along Turn 8 means the driver has to compromise speed on Turn 9 and go wide. This loss of speed will be difficult to make up till turn 11 past the sweeping Turn 10.
The last turn on the circuit, Turn 14 is another crucial turn where drivers have to concentrate fully. They have to take the 180-degree bend as fast as they can without losing their line. Coming out of the bend they will need full power to storm don the Main Straight.
The Hungaroring circuit tests the cars for their braking system as well as how quickly the engine responds to the drivers prodding. A slight hesitation or slip-up could end up in the driver having a very poor race.
Who has won the most Hungarian Grands Prix?
Lewis Hamilton has won the Hungarian Grand Prix a record eight times when he won the Hungarian Grand Prix 2020. In doing so he equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of most wins at a single Grand Prix venue – the French Grand Prix.
Interestingly, Lewis won his first Hungarian Grand Prix in 2013, the year Michael retired from Grand Prix racing and Hamilton replaced him at Mercedes. Hamilton has won the three Hungarian Grands Prix on the trot.
Michael Schumacher had won the race four times between 1994 and 2004. Ayrton Senna, the Brazilian driver, had won three Hungarian Grands Prix titles before that (1988, 1991 and 1992).
In the inaugural Hungarian Grand Prix in 1986, Nelson Piquet had a brilliant duel with Ayrton Senna and ultimately got the better of the Brazilian. Piquet would win the next year’s race also. Ayrton Senna won the first Hungarian Grand Prix in 1988.
Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Mika Hakkinen, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel are the other drivers to win the Hungarian Grand Prix twice. Damon Hill and Jenson Button both got their debut Grand Prix wins at Hungaroring.
Why go to Hungaroring?
When the Formula One circus first came to Budapest in 1986, for most F1 fans coming in from the other parts of the World it was like stepping back in time. The armed guards manning the border and the austere life that Hungarians led, was in sharp contrast to the other parts of the world.
There was a saying doing the rounds that if you missed buying anything in the ‘60s, Budapest is the place you should go to. Tickets to the Grand Prix were costly in those times. Yet, the inaugural Hungarian Grand Prix managed to draw 200,000 fans from around the Bloc countries.
Thirty-five years down the line, Budapest is a bustling modern city with all the modern amenities you can wish for. Western capitalism has made rapid stride making the city an enticing mix of the old and the modern world.
In Budapest, which is called the “Paris of the East’, there is a lot to see and do for F1 fans who can spare a couple of days over the racing week in the city. The city sits astride the Danube, which splits the two towns of Buda and Pest: hence the name Budapest.
Budapest has a long history and culture which is portrayed down every street and lane of the city. It has a buzzing nightlife that extends well into the early hours of dawn. Its hot bath springs are world famous for their therapeutic benefits.
Stunning architectural wonders, both ancient and new, greet you in Budapest. The Parliament Building is one of the most impressive such buildings in the world. The Széchenyi Chain Bridge down the Danube which allows passage across the river is impressive.
With access to a large number of museums in the city and 24×7 accesses to public transport, purchasing a Budapest card is money well spent. A cruise down the River Danube of an evening will give you sightings of the Buda Castle. The castle also houses the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum.
There are many cultural events held during the racing weekend. The Buda Summer Festival coincides with the Hungarian Grand Prix. Concerts, dance, theatre and operas are organised at three different venues around the city.
Various hop-in and hop-off bus tours are organised by several companies. A tour around the city will leave you with an idea of the ancient history and culture of Budapest. Bars and pubs in the Old Jewish Quarter are based in abandoned but rejuvenated old buildings and serve throughout the night.
The medicinal thermal baths in Budapest are world-famous and a trip to one of them will be an experience of a lifetime. The food is wonderful and the wines from the hilly regions around Budapest are worth tasting.
Hugagoring itself is spotless clean during the racing weekend. The organising staff are polite and most of them speak passable English. If you have difficulty in communicating, any person within earshot will be able to speak English.
How much do tickets to the Hungarian Grand Prix cost?
The Hungarian Grand Prix 2021 will be held at Hungaroring, just outside Budapest between 30 July and 1 August 2021. The Grand Prix takes place at the peak of the European summer when it is hot, humid and dusty.
Within close reach of Europe’s most fascinating cities, the circuit is located in a valley among Gödöllő Hills. As a result, the circuit has an elevation difference of just more than 34 meters. This means that a spectator can view more than one corner from most of the grandstands.
The tickets for the event are by far the cheapest among all Europen Grand Prix circuits and are very enticing for budget Formula One fans. Discounts are available for early birds, for the disabled and children above 14 years of age.
*The below prices are listed in Euros
Tickets for the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix
|Super Gold, Row 1-12||NA||255||NA||217|
|Gold 1, Row 1-12||NA||229||NA||195|
|Gold 2, Row 1-12||NA||229||NA||195|
|Gold 3 (Wheelchair)||113||148||133||126|
|3 Corner Super Gold||NA||255||NA||217|
|3 Corner Gold 1||NA||229||NA||195|
|3 Corner Gold 4||NA||349||NA||297|
|3 Corner Silver 1||NA||199||NA||169|
|3 Corner Silver 5||NA||155||NA||132|
|3 Corner Red Bull||NA||199||NA||169|
Important information: Hungarian Grand Prix tickets
- Early bird discounts are available for the Hungarian Grand Prix 2021 and will be available till 31 December 2020. Discounts offered for early birds are around 15 per cent of the cost of a normal ticket.
- Tickets for children aged 13 years and below cost €21 and below for the Super Gold, Gold and Silver Grandstands. Children are allowed free of cost in General admission areas. All tickets have to be booked in advance and children should be accompanied by a ticket paying adult.
- Disabled persons can buy tickets at half the price for the Gold 3 grandstand. Tickets have to be booked and an escort with a wheelchair is available for the same price as your ticket.
- Only the Super Gold Grandstand is covered while the rest grandstands are open to the elements. It rarely rains at Hungaroring in the peak of summer, but it is very hot out in the open. Be prepared with sunscreen and a shade.
- One day tickets, discounted by 10 per cent are only available for Sundays. All tickets are otherwise priced for the whole weekend.
- All the seats are reserved and marked for all the three days. If you want to sit in a different stand each day, 3 Corner Hopping is available at Hungaroring. The tickets cost €220 and below starting with the Super Gold Grandstand.
- General Parking is free at the Hungaroring. But VIP parking tickets are available if you want to book them and cost €26.
Where is the best place to watch the Hungarian Grand Prix from?
Most of the Hungagoring are ranged along the Main Straight. Decide what kind of action you want to watch and you’ll get value for your money. Situated in a valley among the hills as the circuit is, choosing your vantage point with care will ensure that you get a wide view of the circuit.
General Admission Areas
The General Admission Areas at the Hungarian Grand Prix are among the best and the cheapest in Europe. A spectator gets a choice of views from Turn 6 to 14. The large television screens help keep you up to date on the action.
It is advisable to take a stroll around the circuit on Friday and Saturday and select your place for the race day. Come early on Sunday and occupy your chosen place. There are great photo opportunities along Turns 9 and 10. Bring along a pair of binoculars for good measure.
Tickets to the Bronze Grandstands cost only a few euros more than the General Admission Area. While the seats in the Bronze 1 Grandstand give a good view of Turn 5, the Bronze 2Grandstand spectator gets a good view of Turn 6. Being in a Bronze Grandstand, the spectator has to walk a long distance to the action behind the Main Grandstand.
Of the 5 Silver Grandstands, the Silver 5 Grandstand has the least to offer. Spectators in this grandstand get views of cars exiting Turn 11 and zooming past them towards Turn 12 along the short straight. You get a view of turn 13, but a distant one.
The rest of the Silver Grandstands are better placed than the Gold Grandstands further down the Main straight. Grandstands 3 and 4 are among the best Grandstands a spectator can opt for. Grandstands 1 and 2 are a little further away from the final turn but are also good value for money
Silver 3 Grandstand is right on the outside of the final turn on the circuit. If you are located towards the North, you will have a better view of the pit entry and the Turns 12 and 13. The southern side of the grandstand offers a view of the exit of Turn 14 cars going down the pit lane.
The Silver 4 Grandstand is elevated above the red Bull Grandstand and has the highest elevation of all the Silver Grandstands. This means one gets a grand view of Turn 12 to 14. Although it is a small grandstand a bit far away from the track, it is a recommended grandstand.
In the Silver 1 Grandstand which is closer to the exit of Turn 14, a spectator will get a better view of the final turn. The grandstand also affords a distant view of the start-finish point, the pit straight and Turn 12. The Silver 2 Grandstand is closer to the starting grid.
Red Bull Grandstand
This grandstand is a vantage point of choice at the Hungaroring . Priced the same as the Silver Grandstands around it but lower than the Grandstands its elevation gives a panoramic view of the circuit. You get a distant view of the straight after Turn 11 and close views of Turn 12 through to Turn 14 and beyond.
While the Gold 1 Grandstand is straight across the pits on the Main Straight, Gold 2 Grandstand is closer to Turn 14. One can see the cars exiting the final turn from the latter and both the grandstands have a good view of the start-finish line.
Gold 3 Grandstand is further down the Main Straight and a spectator can get only views of the pit lane exit and the race start. Gold 4 Grandstand is closer to Turn 1 one of the best spots for overtaking. You can also get a good view of the race starting point.
Super Gold Grandstand
Super Gold Grandstands are the only covered grandstands on the circuit and are a great way of staying away from the burning sun and the heat. You get a great view of the start and finish of the race as well as a good look at the pits of the top teams across the track.
Other than that, Super Gold Grandstands don’t have much to offer. There are two categories of seats in these stands; Super gold 1 and Super Gold 2. A Super Gold 1 ticket will get you a seat up to row twelve as the views are obscured by the catch fencing and one cannot see over the high pit wall.
The Champions Club and the Formula 1 Paddock club offer the ultimate in hospitality throughout the race weekend. Understandably, the tickets for these Grandstands are priced well over €500.
How to get to Hungaroring and around Budapest?
Budapest is well connected to the capitals and other cities around Europe. The Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport is 16 km to the south-west of Budapest. A traveller can reach the centre of Budapest by train, bus or taxi in just more than half an hour.
Trains are available to Budapest from all over Europe as well. Tickets cost cheaper if you book early. If you want to see more of the countryside, you could fly into one of the neighbouring cities like Venice, Prague or Munich and board a train to Budapest.
Alternatively, you could drive to Budapest or Hungaroring from anywhere in Europe. Only confirm that your vehicle has a valid international insurance policy. Busses are also available from all major European cities including London.
Getting from Budapest to Hungaroring
The time taken to get to Hungagoring depends on where you are staying. If you get to the circuit anywhere from the city or its outskirts, either by taxi, bus or by trains. Helicopter rides are also available if you can afford them.
The 20 kilometre trip from central Budapest will cost you less than €60 each way and take 30 minutes. Free bus rides are available during the weekend from central Budapest and the circuit, but will take anywhere between 60-90 minutes. You will, however, have to walk some distance from the bus stand.
Trains are available to the Hungaroring from Budapest. Once again, depending on where you are staying the travel will take anywhere between 60-90 minutes. That is because the train station for Hungaroring is on the eastern line and you may have to change stations midway.
An F1 fan can also choose to drive from Budapest to the circuit. Hungaroring is just next to the M3 highway and is easy to find. Plenty of free parking is available outside the circuit although you may have to walk a bit if you arrive late.
Where to stay for the Hungarian Grand Prix?
Budapest provides accommodation for all budgets and is among one of the cheapest cities in Europe to stay in, even during the racing weekend. If you choose to spend your week in this ancient and exceptional European city, you will not fall short of sights to take in and entertainment.
Most of the fans from Europe though, choose to camp around the hillside around the circuit. There are five demarcated camping around the Hungaroring for you to choose from. The camping sites can be a bit boisterous during the night but the best camping site is Zengo.
There are also plenty of hostels, apartments on rent and hotels in Budapest that offer accommodation at reasonable prices. Staying in the centre of the city on the Pest side will grant you access to the best shopping, restaurants and bars. On the Budapest side, your stay will be a lot quieter.
Hostels in Budapest, close to metros offer dorm beds for as little as €15-20 a night. Apartments are available for €80-120 a night for single accommodation. Larger apartments will cost €2150-200 per night.
The Hungarian Grand Prix is the cheapest destination in Europe for a Grand Prix weekend or even for a week. The hotel prices are much cheaper than most other European Grand Prix destinations even during the racing weekend. Just go ahead and visit the Hungarian Grand Prix 2021 and enjoy yourselves.