Hungarian Grand Prix

Hungarian GP race review


2016 Hungarian Grand Prix – race report

"Not quite seventh heaven, but a solid and encouraging performance that underlines our good progress" 

Hungaroring, Sunday July 24

It was mixed fortunes for the McLaren-Honda team at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso had a trouble-free race, starting in seventh position and maintaining his gap to the competition behind to finish in the same place in which he had started, bringing home six valuable world championship points.

Conversely, Jenson Button suffered bad luck throughout his afternoon. On lap four, a sensor failure caused his brakes to stop functioning properly, and the team was forced to give him the necessary information over the garage-to-car radio so as to resolve the issue. Already in last place despite having started eighth, he then incurred a drive-through penalty for transgressing the new regulations in respect of radio communications. After a valiant drive from the back of the field to try to make up some of the positions he had lost, he retired on lap 60 owing to an oil leak while fighting Felipe Massa for 18th place.


Started: 7th
Finished: 7th
Fastest Lap: 1m24.958s on lap 62 (+1.872s, 8th)
Pitstops: Two: lap 15 (2.85s), 44 (2.59s) [Option-Prime-Prime] 

“Well, P7 has been my position all weekend! It’s a pity we couldn’t improve this afternoon but still I think we were best of the rest today. Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari are out of reach at the moment for everyone – they’re on another level – so, in the other mini-championship we’re racing in, we were quite competitive and I feel we delivered the maximum we could today.

“There wasn’t much action in the race though. For us, it was a little bit of a boring afternoon at some points – not the usual Hungaroring show – and the only retirement, unfortunately, was Jenson.

“I’m happy about how the weekend went and hopefully we can keep this up progress. We’ve been more or less competitive here and at Silverstone, on two very different circuits, so I’m looking forward to next weekend at Hockenheim.”


Started: 8th
Finished: DNF – oil leak (60 laps)
Fastest Lap: 1m26.744s on lap 9 (+3.658s, 21st)
Pitstops: Three: laps 7 (2.72s), 10 (drive-through) and 28 (3.10s) [Option-Prime-Back-Up]

“It wasn’t a great afternoon for me.

“We had a brake sensor problem early on, which meant the pedal went to the floor, and it’s never nice for a driver to get that feeling. The brakes just weren’t there, which was a big safety concern. The team told me to make a switch change on the steering wheel to make sure it wouldn’t happen again, and it duly resolved itself, but we got a penalty for the communication. We pitted so that they could give me the information I needed, but I guess we should have pitted earlier than we did. Having said that, it didn’t really matter as I was last anyway.

“I completely understand that drivers shouldn’t be fed information that helps us drive our cars – we should be able to deal with that job ourselves, and in fact I love that challenge. But when it’s a safety concern, I don’t think you should get penalised for preventing an accident, as we did today. When you have a power unit that’s so complex, a driver can’t figure out everything for himself. It’s a regulation that shouldn’t be in place at this level of a sport which is so good in so many other ways, and I think commonsense should now prevail.

“I also had a mechanical issue which meant I had massive understeer throughout the whole race; and then, in the end, we retired with an oil leak. I don’t know if it’s salvageable – I hope so – but we’re investigating.”

ERIC BOULLIER - Racing director, McLaren-Honda

“Jenson was unfortunate to have a promising weekend brought to an untimely end by an oil leak, which led to the most disappointing initials in racing: DNF.

“He’d driven very well all weekend – in fact he may even have qualified even better than his eventual P8 yesterday if his run hadn’t been compromised through no fault of his own – but I guess that’s racing.

“As for Fernando, I may be wrong, but I think the consistency he’s demonstrated over the past three days may be a record-breaker. It reads as follows: FP1: P7; FP2: P7; FP3: P7; Quali: P7; Race: P7. Not quite seventh heaven, but a solid and encouraging performance that underlines the good progress we’re making all the time.

“From here we’ll travel to Baden-Württemberg, for the German Grand Prix, the last race of the first half of the season. The Hockenheim circuit may not suit our car / power unit combo quite as well as did the Hungaroring this weekend, but we’ll be gunning for points yet again; be in no doubt of that.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA - Honda R&D head of F1 project & executive chief engineer

"It was a positive weekend for the team to be leading the midfield pack. We were consistently the fourth-quickest team, with Fernando finishing 'best of the rest' in P7 in all the sessions, which once again displays our progress as a team, and helps build confidence for the second half of the season.

"On the other hand, Jenson was hampered with a brake system sensor issue, which put him at the back of the field in the early laps of the race. In the end, the team had to retire his car due to an oil leak. At the moment, we don’t see any issue with the power unit, but the team will continue to investigate.

“It was another bitter-sweet weekend to see one side of the garage happy and the other disappointed.


2016 Hungarian Grand Prix preview


#14 Fernando Alonso

“The Hungaroring is a great little circuit, and has quite unique characteristics that not many other tracks share. It’s a bit like a street circuit in the way it’s configured, even though it’s purpose-built, and it requires absolute precision and concentration to get the most out of every lap. 

“Since you need good balance and downforce, the best way to get a good lap time is to really attack the corners – a bit like in karting – so from that point of view it’s a really fun circuit to drive. Although it’s not a traditional ‘power’ circuit like many others, it doesn’t feel like a slow circuit either; I hope we can find a good set-up early on in the weekend so we can really make the most of our car and hopefully have some fun.”

#22 Jenson Button

“This circuit is quite different from the last few we’ve been to, so I’m looking forward to heading back to Hungary next weekend. It’s less dependent on power, and much more dependent on traction, cornering speeds and agility, and it’s a really enjoyable challenge. You get a great feeling when you hook up a good lap there.

“The focus is much more on aero, so we’ll run pretty high downforce and try to make the most of our car’s good traction under braking. Hopefully it’ll mean we can keep up with the chasing pack and maybe even make up a bit of ground, too. Although we struggled with our pace in Silverstone, the Hungaroring is a different kettle of fish, so I’m keen to see how we perform there.”


2015 winner Sebastian Vettel, 69 laps, 1:46:09.985s
2015 pole position Lewis Hamilton, 1m22.020s
2015 fastest lap Daniel Ricciardo, 1m24.821s (lap 68)
Name Hungaroring
First race 1986
Circuit length  4.381km/2.722 miles
Distance to Turn One 610m/0.379 miles 
Longest straight  908m/0.564 miles, on the approach to Turn One
Top speed 310km/h/193mph, on the approach to Turn One 
Pitlane length 360m/0.224 miles, estimated time loss 18s
Full throttle 55 per cent 
DRS zones Two, on the approaches to Turns One and Two
Key corner Turn 14, a tricky 180-degree right-hander, which has a bump in the middle. To be fast, a car needs good front-end grip to hold it at the apex, but traction is also important because the longest straight on the lap follows and exit speed is critical
Fastest corner  212km/h (132mph), Turn Four
Slowest corner 93km/h (58mph), Turn One
Major changes for 2016 None, bar a few changes to the kerbs
Fuel consumption 2.1kg per lap, which is relatively high
ERS demands Medium. It’s a short lap with lots of acceleration from low speed, but only 14 per cent of the lap is spent braking, and that provides the cars with relatively few opportunities to harvest energy 
Brake wear Medium. There’s a significant braking event into Turn One, where the cars pull 5g, but that’s the only big braking zone
Gear changes 48 per lap /3,360 per race



History lesson: 
The Hungaroring was the first circuit in the world to be built specifically for Formula 1. Situated 20km (12 miles) north east of Budapest, the track was constructed in just nine months ahead of the inaugural race in 1986. Only six tracks on this year’s F1 calendar have staged more races than the Hungaroring.

What makes the track unique: 
The number of slow corners. Twelve of the 14 corners are taken at less than 200km/h (124mph), which places an emphasis on mechanical grip and has earned the track the nickname of ‘Monaco, without the walls’.

Grip levels: 
Poor. The track is rarely used, which means the surface is very dirty early in the weekend. The racing line cleans up relatively quickly once practice gets underway, but the asphalt remains slippery off-line throughout the weekend.

There’s ample run-off at Turn One, where the cars exceed 300km/h (186mph) on the approach to the corner, but the barriers are relatively close elsewhere due to the slow speeds. The smallest of mistakes can be punished by contact with the tyre wall.

Watch out for…: 
Turn Four, the fastest corner on the lap. The uphill approach means the drivers can’t see the exit and the surface drops away near the apex kerb. Precision is crucial in order to be quick.

Official McLaren App now available on Android

Official McLaren App now available on Android



Start time 14:00hrs local/13:00hrs BST
Race distance 70 laps (full world championship points will be awarded after 75 per cent distance/53 laps)
Safety Car likelihood Low. The Safety Car was deployed in 2014, and the virtual Safety Car in ’15, but those were anomalies. Statistically, there is only a 10 per cent chance of a Safety Car in the Hungarian Grand Prix
When to press record Qualifying. The track’s tortuous twists make overtaking difficult, which places even greater emphasis on qualifying – although no-one told Nigel Mansell in 1989; he qualified 12th and won the race
Don’t put the kettle on The first pitstops occurred on or around lap 20 last year. But the Supersoft tyre will be the qualifying compound this year and that could force earlier pitstops because it’s faster wearing
Weather conditions now   23 degrees and cloudy
Race forecast 28 degrees and sunny
Tyre choices Supersoft/Soft/Medium, a combination that was last used at the European Grand Prix in Baku



First Hungarian Grand Prix: 

There isn’t an official slogan, but the track is known colloquially as ‘Monaco without the walls’.

Hungary's F1 heritage: 
The first Hungarian Grand Prix was held in 1936, in a park in central Budapest. The race at the Hungaroring has been a permanent fixture since 1986, when more than 200,000 people turned up to watch the first grand prix behind the Iron Curtain. There’s only been one Hungarian F1 driver: Zolt Baumgartner, a veteran of 20 GPs in 2003/’04.

Smallest winning margin:  
0.288s, in 1990. It was Thierry Boutsen’s third and final victory in F1. He led the entire race from pole position, but he was under pressure throughout – initially from Alessandro Nannini and then Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian finished the 77-lap race just inches behind Boutsen’s Williams.

Sporting legacy:
The Hungaroring is only the 10th track in F1 history to host 30 grands prix, but, despite the popularity of the race, it hasn’t spawned a roster of Hungarian racing drivers. The national sport is football, closely followed by track and field. Only seven countries have won more gold medals at the summer Olympic Games than Hungary. Other popular sports are water polo and baseball.

Did you know? 
Both McLaren-Honda drivers scored their first victories in Formula 1 at the Hungaroring, Fernando Alonso in 2003 and Jenson Button in 2006.

Don’t forget: 
McLaren is the most successful constructor at the Hungarian Grand Prix, having won the race 11 times – more than one third of the races. 

Fan zone:
Patrick, aged 39, from Minneapolis, asks: “Given that this is the halfway point in the season, are you guys beginning to focus on the 2017 car at the McLaren Technology Centre?”
McLaren’s answer: “The split of resources between the present and the future is one of the most important juggling acts that a Formula 1 team has to perform. We’ve been working on the 2017 car for a while already, but we’re still developing the MP4-31 because we want to challenge for points right through until the end of the season.”


#14 Fernando Alonso

“Silverstone was definitely a challenge for us, but we knew that from the beginning and we still took a lot of positives away from the weekend. Reliability-wise, we’re getting stronger, and the test just after the grand prix was definitely a little boost for the whole team. We completed a full programme, got a lot of mileage done, and learned a lot which will help with our development, so hopefully we can put some of this knowledge to good use in Hungary.

“There’s no such thing as perfect in this sport, but the important thing will be to execute a trouble-free weekend in all areas. If we manage to get the best out of every session, and have some clean, drama-free running, hopefully we can find some good pace in the car and maximise the potential of what we have underneath us – and score some valuable points.”

#22 Jenson Button

“Both Fernando and I won our first grand prix in Hungary, and it’s always a special feeling going back. It’s been 10 years since that first victory – although it doesn’t feel that long – so the Hungaroring is a place that holds great memories. Budapest is a really cool city and we stay more centrally than at many other grands prix, so we get to see quite a bit of the surrounding area, and it makes for a great atmosphere and a real buzz about the place." 

“In the past couple of years Hungary has been fairly good to us and provided a bit of a boost before the summer break after a relentless few weeks of back-to-back racing, so I’m hoping for more of the same this time around. It suits our car more than some of the other circuits, but of course there are no guarantees, so we’ll be putting in the hard work on Friday to make sure we have the best possible set-up for the demands of this quirky track.”


Eric Boullier
McLaren-Honda Racing Director

“We head to the Hungaroring off the back of a positive couple of days testing at Silverstone. The grand prix weekend was certainly a challenge, but knowing the characteristics of the circuit as we do, we were prepared for a difficult race, although it’s still disappointing not to have finished in the points.

“The test, however, was encouraging, and we definitely maximised the track time to collate some valuable data which our engineers in the UK and Japan are putting to good use on the development of the MP4-31. Not all will apply directly to the race in Hungary, of course, but we certainly hope that we can align the strengths of our package with the unique nature of the Hungaroring circuit.

“Over the past few races, we’ve endured some bad luck, made a few small mistakes, and suffered some reliability niggles. But if we can enjoy a smooth weekend, I’m hopeful we can fulfil the potential that our package has shown at various points throughout the season so far, on both sides of the garage, and secure a result that, statistically, we know we're capable of on this type of circuit.”

Yusuke Hasegawa
Honda R&D Co Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer

"With an old-school style racing circuit and the shimmering summer sun, the Hungarian Grand Prix is a special place for Honda. I can still remember when Jenson won his first Grand Prix with us in 2006 and the incredible atmosphere within the team and fans.

“Though the Hungaroring is not a power-oriented circuit, it still requires precise energy management throughout every lap of the race. It's also a circuit where overtaking is extremely difficult, so it'll be important for us to get the qualifying lap correct. Our target again is to reach Q3 and be in a good place to score more points, for which we have two skilled drivers that we have complete trust in to drive brilliantly through the gruelling 70-lap race."


Hungary Grand Prix 2016 map


2016 Hungarian Grand Prix

Drivers have been known to describe the Hungaroring as ‘Monaco without the walls’: that’s a fair description of the tight, twisting circuit on the outskirts of Budapest.

Constructed in the mid-1980s when Formula 1 took a risk and ventured behind the Iron Curtain, the Hungaroring and the Hungarian Grand Prix have been ever-present on the calendar since 1986.

While not quite a Monaco replica, the Hungaroring is a maximum downforce circuit. Teams will setup with a strong front end to counter plenty of understeer – but also soften their suspension settings to allow drivers to ride the kerbs through the middle of the lap.

The circuit has more corners than was originally the case but the original character remains intact. For Formula 1 the Hungaroring is like a scaled-up karting circuit: an excellent challenge for a qualifying lap, but sometimes frustrating in a race situation where overtaking opportunities are few and far between. That said, recent years have seen dramatic conclusions. While DRS has proved ineffectual in Hungary, the circuit supports a variety of tyre strategies which has made for tense and very watchable races.

The Hungaroring is a special place for both our drivers who took their debut F1 victories at this circuit: Fernando in 2003 – at that time the youngest winner of a grand prix – and Jenson for Honda in 2006. Jenson won again in 2011, one of our record 11 wins in Hungary - a list that also includes the sport’s first victory for a hybrid car.



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