Hungarian GP Preview

Hungarian Grand Prix 2017

Hear from McLaren Honda drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne as they prepare for Round 11 at the Hungaroring.

Fernando Alonso

“On paper, the Hungaroring presents one of the best opportunities for us this year. The short, twisty circuit means we are less reliant on outright power, and the drivers have to really depend on the capabilities of the chassis to get the best out of the lap.

“I always like returning to Budapest – we get to stay in the centre with great views of the river, and you feel like you’re really part of the city all weekend. The temperatures are high and it’s a testing weekend for the teams and drivers – especially since the summer break is so close, but a good result can be a great boost for everyone going into the shutdown period.

“The important thing for us, as always, is reliability. Even if our car could perform better in Hungary, we need to have a trouble-free weekend to take advantage of every opportunity for points. We made some big decisions in Silverstone in terms of taking grid penalties in preparation for this race, and hope that’s paid off so we can put ourselves in the best possible position for points this weekend.”

Stoffel Vandoorne

“I really like the Hungaroring circuit – although it’s not the fastest in term of outright pace, its technical layout means it feels quick and requires 100% commitment and concentration all the way around the lap. There are a lot of quick changes of direction, and the twisty configuration means you have to have your line spot-on every time to get the best out of a lap.

“The layout combined with the high temperatures means it’s tough on the cars, and you need a strong and stable chassis to be able to get the nose in at the right time and allow you the best possible exit to get ready for the next corner. The straights are short, so it’s all about setting up the car with as much downforce as possible for the corners.

“I’ve won in Hungary before, in GP2, and I enjoy driving on this track. Although we’ve been a bit unlucky, I feel that my performances have been consistent and improving race-by-race. I’ve been working hard with the engineers and I feel confident in the car – my weekends are coming together better now in the first part of the season and as a team we are progressing every weekend. We have to be patient, keep working hard, and I hope to see the reward for our efforts paying off soon.“

Circuit info 

Circuit name: Hungaroring
First race: 1986

Previous winners

 2016Lewis Hamilton
 2015Sebastian Vettel
 2014Daniel Ricciardo

History lesson

The Hungarian Grand Prix has been a permanent fixture on the Formula 1 calendar since 1986; as a result, the Hungaroring is the 10th track in history to host more than 30 grands prix. The circuit was constructed in just nine months prior to its inaugural race and despite being F1’s slowest permanent venue, the drivers relish its challenges. 

What makes the race special?

Budapest is a beautiful host city, but the race’s notoriety stems from it being the first grand prix to take place behind the Iron Curtain.

Bet you never knew...

The first Hungarian Grand Prix took place in 1936, in a park in central Budapest.

Crazy moment

When the timing sensor on the start-finish straight failed at the end of qualifying in 2009. As the cars crossed the line at the end of Q3 no-one knew the qualifying order, although a back-up sensor meant none of the timing data had been lost. Within minutes it was revealed that Fernando Alonso had taken pole position.

What we love

The uncompromising nature of the track. There are 14 corners and only one straight in excess of 600 metres (0.373 miles), which makes it a brutal workout for the drivers. In the height of summer, when temperatures regularly exceed 35 degrees Celsius, this race tests man and machine to the limit.

McLaren memory

1988, when Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were in the midst of an intense fight for the world championship. Senna qualified on pole, with Nigel Mansell alongside him on the front row of the grid, and Prost was back in seventh place. Senna led the race from start-to-finish and Prost drove a tenacious race to make his way up to second, crossing the line just 0.5s behind his team-mate.

Sporting legacy

Only six tracks on the current calendar have staged more grands prix than the Hungaroring, yet Hungary has struggled to produce Formula 1 drivers. Zsolt Baumgartner remains the only Hungarian to have raced in F1; he drove for Jordan and Minardi, scoring points at the 2004 US Grand Prix.

Did you know?

Two world champions have been crowned at the Hungaroring: Nigel Mansell in 1992 and Michael Schumacher in 2001.

Don’t forget

McLaren has won the Hungarian Grand Prix 11 times, which is a third of the races staged.