The Formula 1 circus returns to the Hungaroring track at Mogyrod — some 12.4 miles outside of Budapest — for the Hungarian Grand Prix, the final race before the summer break begins in August. Teams will be looking to close out the first half of the season on a high note before recuperating to start the second half on August 28 with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
The previous year at the Hungaroring resulted in rain throwing a huge monkey wrench into all the best laid plans of everyone involved. It resulted in Sebastian Vettel driving one of his best races in recent memory only to be disqualified from his second-place finish (because race stewards were unable to retrieve a sample of fuel from his car), and five drivers being either eliminated or having their race hopes severely dented in a Turn 1, Lap 1 kerfuffle. Among those drivers was Max Verstappen, who scuffed along to finish 10th for the final point.
In the end it was Esteban Ocon who took the checkered for his first F1 victory, with Lewis Hamilton moving up to second after Vettel’s DQ and Carlos Sainz Jr. finishing third.
What will this year bring? A surprise has already been sprung in Vettel announcing that he will retire from Formula 1 after this year’s season-sending race at Abu Dhabi (which will also be his 300th Grand Prix, should he not miss any between now and then).
How to watch the Hungarian Grand Prix
- Date: Sunday, July 31
- Location: Hungaroring track, Mogyrod, Hungary
- Time: 9 a.m. ET
- TV: ESPN2
- Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
What to watch for
The 2.722-mile (4.381-km), 14-turn Hungaroring is twisty, dusty and notoriously difficult to pass on, which can lead to tempers flaring over the course of 70 laps and drivers getting frustrated and becoming overly ambitious where discretion is the better course of action.
Look at an overview of the track’s layout and you will notice that there are no long straights. Much like a karting track, it seems to be a series of turns strung together with short, straight chutes. There will be only one DRS zone for the race — just before the entrance of Turn 14 and all the way down to the entrance of Turn 1 — and that’s the closest thing the Hungaroring has to a straight.
Weather should not play a factor on Sunday — although, as we noted earlier, last year’s race was troubled by rain — as it is expected to be hot and balmy. As for pit stops, this race can be won as a one-stopper or two-stopper. A lot depends on what tires the teams elect to start on, whether they be the intermediates or the hards, as the softs have in the past proven to be too soft due to all the cornering loads and braking.
As an aside, this is the closest F1 has to an oval, as the Hungaroring is built in a bowl and up to 50 percent of the track is visible by fans in the grandstands.
On the back foot
Ferrari: Carlos Sainz Jr. was the bright spot at the Grand Prix of France, where it looked like Charles Leclerc was cruising to an easy victory before a momentary lapse of concentration ended his race. Hungary is Ferrari’s kind of track, though, as they have excelled at bends and curves this season. Teams typically run packages similar to what they use at Monaco at the Hungaroring. How did Monaco work out for Ferrari again?
Running in place
Haas and McLaren: Promised tech upgrades and aero packages come just when both of these teams need something to get the pot back to boiling.
Best foot forward
Aston Martin: They are in this category for Vettel’s shock retirement announcement. This is a good development for everyone involved. Vettel has looked disinterested at times, and now the team is able to figure out its future.
Mercedes GP: Hamilton and George Russell are riding a wave of momentum at the moment, but the team are still worried that they lack the overall speed to match the Red Bulls and Ferraris.
Red Bull Racing: This track will prove to be challenge for the Bulls, as their straight-line speed advantage will be negated by the twisty nature of the Hungaroring. Can you really ever count out Max Verstappen, though?