The Hungaroring is a racing circuit in Mogyoród, near Budapest, Hungary where the Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix is held. In 1986, it became the location of the first Formula One Grand Prix behind the Iron Curtain. Bernie Ecclestone wanted a race in the USSR, but a Hungarian friend of his recommended Budapest. They wanted a street circuit similar to the Circuit de Monaco to be built in the Népliget – Budapest's largest park – but the government decided to build a new circuit just outside the city near a major highway. Construction works started on October 1, 1985. It was built in eight months, less time than any other Formula One circuit. The first race was held on March 24, 1986 in memory of János Drapál, the first Hungarian who won motorcycle Grand Prix races. According to a survey put together by the Hungarian national tourism office Mogyoród ranks third in venues visited by tourists in Hungary, following the Danube Bend-area and Lake Balaton, but before Budapest.
The Grand Prix is held in the middle of summer, which is usually hot and dry in this region. Its first wet Grand Prix race was in 2006. The circuit is normally dusty due to underuse throughout the rest of the year and its sandy soil. As the circuit track is in a valley you can see about 80 percent of the racetrack from any point.
Normally an underused circuit becomes faster over the weekend as the track surface gathers more rubber residue; however, with the Hungaroring this generally does not happen because the track can get dusty so quickly. The track frequently becomes faster during a qualifying session, which leads competitors to try for their best lap as late as possible.
The twisty and bumpy nature of the circuit makes overtaking very difficult in dry conditions. Nonetheless, the Hungaroring has been the scene of several memorable races such as the duels of Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell's lost wheel in 1987, Mansell's win from 12th on the grid after a dramatic pass on Ayrton Senna in 1989, Damon Hill's almost victory with Arrows in 1997 and maiden wins for Hill in 1993, Fernando Alonso in 2003, Jenson Button in 2006 in the track's first ever wet grand prix, and Heikki Kovalainen in 2008.
Hungaroring has crowned two drivers in its 20 year history: both Nigel Mansell in 1992 and Michael Schumacher in 2001 were able to win the World Championship title at early points of the seasons. Moreover, the WilliamsF1 Team also secured the Constructors' Championship at the Hungaroring in 1996.
Both Hungary's Zsolt Baumgartner and Poland's Robert Kubica made their debut on this track as the first F1 drivers of their countries.
The 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix was the first wet grand prix at the Hungaroring. This saw the retirement of many drivers including championship rivals Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher and gave Jenson Button and the reborn Honda F1 team their first win. Fernando Alonso also earned his first Grand Prix victory at this in 2003, declaring it his favourite track as a result.
According to statements and interviews, drivers have different opinions on the track. While many like Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, and Fernando Alonso claimed to love it, many others consider the track, and the Hungarian Grand Prix too slow, hot and demanding. The technical driving center of the Hungaroring held former racer Gerhard Berger's name from 1998 until 2005 but later it was changed to Allianz.
The track also has a curve named after Nigel Mansell.
While most of the foreign fans are from Germany<ref name="AmCham"/> and Austria, the Hungaroring has traditionally seen a large influx of Finnish fans as well. With the loss of the Austrian Grand Prix, this is the closest Formula One event for fans from other Central European countries. The 2006 race saw many spectators from Poland due to the debut of their first Formula One driver, Robert Kubica.
Some say that the Hungaroring is similar in style to Circuit de Monaco, due to its tight and twisty corners. A first change in the track layout was carried out in 1989, when the chicane after the actual turn 3 was removed. In 2003, the main straight (turn 1, see diagram) was lengthened by roughly 200 m, and the hairpin at the end of the straight was also tightened in an attempt to facilitate more overtaking opportunities, as well as a tightening of what was Turn 13. However, this is largely seen to have failed.
The Hungarian Grand Prix has always been more of a promoter event than a profit-raiser in itself.<ref name="AmCham"/> The contract was prolonged until 2016, although tobacco advertising has been banned since 2007.
The Hungaroring is the home of Hungarian motorsport. Besides Formula One, there were also DTM, FIA GT Championship races in its history. In 2011 it hosted the inaugural FIA WTCC Race of Hungary. A public drag race event takes place every month.
- Official Ticket Agency of the Hungarian F1 Grand Prix
- Hungaroring – the technical requirements
- A lap of the Hungaroring with Honda’s Alex Wurz
- Hungaroring Circuit History and Statistics
- Statistics from official F1 site
- BBC's circuit guide
- Satellite picture by Google Maps
- Ciro Pabón's Racetracks 3D views and virtual laps of all F1 circuits, including this one, via Google Earth
- List of Formula One circuits