Hungarian GP 2014 Location: 10 Key Facts About the Hungaroring

Matthew Walthert@@MatthewWalthertFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2014

Hungarian GP 2014 Location: 10 Key Facts About the Hungaroring

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    SANDOR H. SZABO/Associated Press

    The Hungaroring outside Budapest will host its 29th Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend, an unbroken string stretching back to 1986.

    While the narrow circuit is not conducive to passing, it has delivered some interesting races and surprising results, including Heikki Kovalainen's only Formula One victory, Nigel Mansell's 1989 win from 12th on the grid and a recent string of British domination—six wins in the last eight races—kicked off by Jenson Button's debut victory in 2006.

    To prepare you for this weekend's race, the last before a four-week summer break, here are 10 facts about the Hungaroring: 

Beautiful Twin Cities

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    BudapestCultura / Image Source/Associated Press

    The cities of Buda, Obuda and Pest, on opposite sides of the Danube River, were united in 1873 to form the Hungarian capital, as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. As such, the city is full of museums, galleries and wonderful architecture.

    The track is just 20 kilometres northeast of the city, providing fans with plenty of opportunities for sightseeing, in addition to the F1 action.

Circuit Characteristics

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    Wikimedia Commons/Will Pittenger

    The Hungaroring is 4.381 kilometres long and features 14 turns, most of which are relatively low-speed. The circuit is often compared to Monaco due to its narrow, twisty nature and short total distance. Michael Schumacher set the lap record in 2004 at one minute, 19.071 seconds.

    Rain is a rare occurrence during the Hungarian Grand Prix and the track is usually very dusty off the racing line. However, rain is currently forecast for this Sunday, which could make for a very interesting race.

Racing Behind the Iron Curtain

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    As the Soviet Union limped toward its inevitable demise, the Hungarian Grand Prix was the first F1 race to be run in the Eastern Bloc.

    F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone originally wanted a race in Moscow but when that fell through he turned to Hungary, according to Brad Spurgeon, writing in the International Herald Tribune

    The Hungarian government eagerly accepted and a circuit was quickly built. According to the Hungaroring's website, it took just eight months and the first race was held in 1986.

Finnish Invasion

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    Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    "Many times Hungary has been called 'the Grand Prix of Finland,'" Kimi Raikkonen said prior to the 2013 event, per the official F1 website. "A lot of Finns go to this race every year and it is always nice to see the blue and white flags waving."

    Finns and Hungarians share common ancestors and their languages are (distantly) related. Therefore, lacking a race of their own, Finnish fans usually turn up en masse to the Hungarian Grand Prix.

    With Valtteri Bottas in fine form (three straight podiums), they should have plenty to cheer about. Meanwhile, Raikkonen is having a miserable season, but maybe he can turn it around in front of his "home" crowd.

Fan-Friendly Design

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    Associated Press

    The Hungaroring is built in the bottom of a valley, allowing spectators to view a large portion of the track from their seats. According to the official F1 site, "more than 50 percent of the track can be seen from most vantage points."

    At most races, fans are lucky to see one or two corners of action, so in that respect, the Hungarian Grand Prix is very fan-friendly.

The Importance of Qualifying

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    Hamilton at the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix.
    Hamilton at the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix.Bela Szandelszky/Associated Press

    While qualifying well is certainly important at the Hungaroring, being on pole is not a necessity to win the race. Over the last 10 Hungarian Grands Prix, only four pole-sitters have gone on to win the race.

    In 2012 and 2013, though, Lewis Hamilton won from pole. Can he make it a hat-trick on Sunday?

A Title Predictor?

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    Schumacher celebrating his win at the 2004 Hungarian Grand Prix.
    Schumacher celebrating his win at the 2004 Hungarian Grand Prix.DARKO VOJINOVIC/Associated Press

    But maybe success at the Hungaroring is not so important for Hamilton. It has been 10 years since the winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix has gone on to win the Drivers' Championship.

    In 2004 Michael Schumacher won in Hungary—his 12th victory in the first 13 races of the season—and clinched his final Drivers' title at the next race.

Hungarian Drivers?

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    Baumgartner at the 2004 San Marino Grand Prix.
    Baumgartner at the 2004 San Marino Grand Prix.Mark Thompson/Getty Images

    OK, so this is not really a fact about the circuit, but rather the host country. Despite having a grand prix for nearly 30 years, Hungary has not become a development hotbed for young drivers.

    In fact, Zsolt Baumgartner is the only Hungarian to ever start an F1 race. He drove for Jordan in 2003 and Minardi in 2004, starting 20 races and scoring one point, at the 2004 U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis. He was three laps down, but only 8 cars finished that day, so everybody scored.

    Curiously, another Hungarian, Ferenc Szisz, won the first grand prix, which was held in 1906 outside Le Mans. He raced again the following year, finishing second.

Most Successful Drivers and Teams

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    McLaren won the 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix with Hamilton at the wheel.
    McLaren won the 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix with Hamilton at the wheel.Balazs Czagany/Associated Press

    Two drivers have collected four wins at the Hungaroring: Schumacher and Hamilton. And the Brit is a decent bet to take the record for himself this weekend in Budapest.

    Ayrton Senna won three times in Hungary, in 1988, 1991 and 1992, while five other drivers have two wins each.

    In terms of constructors, McLaren have won more than one-third of all the races at the Hungaroring, with 11 victories. Williams is second with seven and Ferrari have taken five wins.

Water Fight!

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    Suzuka has an amusement park and, although it may not rain much in Hungary during the summer, there is a water park right next door to the Hungaroring. The Aquarena boasts 21 waterslides, according to its website.

    If you happen to be attending the race this year, it might be a nice place to cool off, considering the temperatures are expected to reach around 30 degrees C on Friday and Saturday, per the official F1 site.

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