The temperature at the Hungaroring circuit for the F1 Grand Prix is always hot. The track is about ten miles from Budapest and is situated in a natural bowl, which always makes a great spectacle for the spectators. The Hungarian Grand Prix is the largest spectator event in Hungary and so it is very important for the country. It is not unusual to see the hierarchy of the F1 organisation bestowed with honours from the country to help ensure the Grand Prix race returns each year. This circuit does not produce the best racing of the year as the circuit is very slow and there is little chance of any overtaking. (Only Monaco is more difficult to overtake at.) There are no real straights on this circuit and the drivers are nearly always turning a corner. Each lap is 3.9Km and the Grand Prix race is over 77 laps. The race normally runs for about an hour and three quarters and in time this makes the race one of the longest in the Grand Prix calendar. The track is always very dusty and this is due to a number of reasons, the first being that the circuit is only used once a year and that is for the Grand Prix weekend. The natural bowl that the circuit is in does tend to collect dust and also the soil around the track is sandy and this easily blows onto the track surface. This means that any car going offline in a race is very likely to spin right off the track. With the slowness of the circuit, this added hazard makes drivers very reluctant to try any desperate overtaking manoeuvres. The circuit demands that the cars are set up with a very high down force and so qualifying becomes very important. It is most unusual for any car to win this race if the driver has not qualified in the first three on the grid. Pit stops often determine the winner of this race and because of the slow speeds and high temperature it is not unusual to see a car engine fail shortly after a pit stop if it has been delayed at all and then overheated. This circ
uit tests the durability of both the cars and the drivers and although it has produced some interesting races I personally prefer tacks where there is more overtaking.
Yes yes yes, I know he has four of them but in my view he’s only won two (Although you could argue he lost one when he broke his leg). I’ll argue you that one through some other time though. * The Track * Should freak winds ever turn the Sahara Desert into a race track, the chances are it would turn out something like Hungary. Very dusty and very hot, Hungary often presents one of the most physically challenging races of the season to the drivers. This isn’t helped by the slow average speed making it one of the longest (time wise) races on the calendar or by the constant work load for the drives brought on by the rather high number of corners. A good place to watch the Grand Prix at Hungary from is your hotel room on TV, as the race is often quite dull (twisty = very hard to overtake). At least then you can turn over and watch Hungarian soap operas. If your home made F1 car inexplicably ends up on a boat/plane/goat going to Hungary then you will want a huge amount of downforce and short gear ratios in an attempt to hustle the car around the track at something approaching speed. * The Results – Due Since Copse * Ever since DC went gardening with Trulli at Copse corner, Silverstone I’ve been expecting this. 1st – Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) - Qualified 1st – Schumacher and Ferrari take respective titles 2nd – Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) – Qualified 3rd 3rd – David Coulthard (McLaren) – Qualified 2nd 4th – Ralf Schumacher (Williams) – Qualified 4th 5th – Mika Hakkinen (McLaren) - Qualified 6th 6th – Nick Heidfeld (Sauber) – Qualified 7th Six none point scoring finishes. * The Race – Hungary… Nuff said (Although the ’97 here was damn good if somewhat heart braking) * Despite the record setting and championship winning nature of the Grand P
rix it was, well, quite dull really. Rubens overtook Coulthard off the line while Irvine span out at his first attempt at turning the steering wheel and um, that was it for a while. The top four (Old Schumacher, Rubens, Coulthard and Young Schumacher) traded fastest laps for a while as the general pattern of Michael vs. David vs. Rubens formed at the front with Ralf a fair few seconds back all on his lonesome and a whole bunch of drivers, including Hakkinen, stuck behind Jarno Trulli further back down the road. This way it stayed until the pit stops when some problem at the rear of Trulli’s Jordan allowed Mika and co past, while a slightly slow pit stop for Rubens and a moment of speed pushed DC into second when all settled down. However, McLaren were to have a bad day in the pits. A fudge up on DC’s second stop put him back to third, while forgetting to put enough fuel in Mika’s car prevented him from having a crack at Ralf for fourth as he made his third visit to the pits. Two notable performers with unnotable performances were messers Frentzen and Alesi, both who trundled round at the back of the field – to be expected I guess, at least for the poor sucker in the Prost! * Heroes and Villains * * Heroes * Ron Denis: “I will congratulate Michael, but I won’t enjoy it” or words to that effect. As far as Ron goes that’s a sporting gesture! Um Excelle: For letting me watch it on his TV. * Random Mixed Feelings Award * Michael Schumacher: I was destined to take a dislike to this man, staunch Damon Hill fan that I was. However I actually wanted him to win the ’97 championship right up until the moment where he tried to win that by ramming Jacques off the track. As far as I was concerned that was his last chance with me. I still can’t deny that Michael and Ferrari have done an amazing job this season and I can’t remember a
ny suspect winning-race-in-pits style tactics either! * Villains * McLaren: One great pitstop does not make up for 4 rubbish ones lads. Frentzen: OK OK, I’m struggling for Villains so this is one from qualifying but holding up DC so supremely was a moment so dumb it was impressive. * Rubens Barrichello Award for Dumbest Moment of the Race * And the award goes to… Eddie Irvine – for thinking he was somewhere like Germany with nice long straights. * Murkey Talker * “Listen to me! The calm, mature voice of reason” – Murray talking about the championship possibilities at the start of the race. “You’re right Martin! I am very much mistaken, I was sure it was seven points but it’s seven points.” – Murray discussing the constructors championship mid race. More in two weeks.
The Hungaroring circuit is 12 miles north-east of Budapest which is your best base for the event. There is a wide choice of accommodation available in Budapest for all prices ranges but I would seriously advise booking before you go as they can soon book up for Grand Prix weekend - expect the room rates to be increased for this period too. You can book with a specialist motor racing tour firm which may be more expensive than making your own arrangements but good if it's your first time at the event, you want the company of other fans plus they sort out transport to and from the race track. It's a while since I've been but having spoken to more recent visitors it appears the general points remain the same. I bought tickets in this country to be assured of getting the ones I wanted and can't give a view on waiting till you're in Hungary to buy them. In this country shop around between specialist motor racing travel, ticket agencies to find the best price. To get to the track there's a number of possibilities and it's best to get an early start on race day. If you hire a car the route to the track is well sign-posted and not too difficult to find. There is a bus service and train service that drops off near the track. This wasn't so well sign-posted especially in the after race melee of spectators leaving - double check with the bus operators where they intend to park to collect spectators after the race. Some people will tell you taxis are dirt cheap but you'll find on the whole they've woken up to this. I've heard of people being charged £30+ each way. Whilst the taxi can drop you off close to the circuit entrance don't expect it to be easy to find a taxi for the return run especially after the race. The traffic jams after the race are pretty bad and be aware of this if you're planning to leave Hungary on Sunday night - I'd strongly advise leaving on Monday to relieve the pressure.
Tickets for the grandstand opposite the pits offer a good view of pit-lane and a good section of the track. There are plenty of viewing points with the general admission tickets on the grass hillsides but expect them to get very busy. You'll need to be physically fit for all the walking. The race attracts spectators from all across Europe so there's a wide mix of people which gives it a good atmosphere on the whole. The facilities such as toilets were pretty primitive a few years ago and the choice of food was limited and expensive. I'd suggest you take your own provisions and plenty of water. If the weather is hot, it is HOT - remember hats and sunscreen as all the spectator viewing whether in the grandstand or on the hillside is very exposed. The racing produced at Hungaroring can be quite boring as there a few overtaking opportunities which in theory means a processional race is probable. There was little in the way of support races and other entertainment but this may have changed. Budapest is an interesting base and you might want to consider extending your stay if you are interested in art and architecture, the city has a wealth of museums. I didn't find Hungary to be cheap as many people suggested - Budapest seems to be as expensive as any other European capital city. The city gets very busy over the race weekend and on an evening it is worth exploring the squares and the edge of the Danube where people set up a variety of market stalls. The Hungaroring is not an ideal race for your first GP abroad and I don't think it would be suitable if you were taking children . This is a race for the more adventurous, seasoned GP spectator used to visiting tracks and expecting the queues and jams that come with that and for many taking a trip with an organized tour may be the best option to attend this race.