The Hungarian Grand Prix – a history of surprises

This weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix will be the first one I have watched live for nine years. For someone who religiously tunes into pretty much every F1 race live this is unusual and it’s all to do with the timing of the race. This time of year is the most popular for British holiday-makers and also tends to clash with the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, which I am usually working on in July and August.

But if you are free this Sunday I strongly recommend sitting down to watch this one. Not only was the last race at Silverstone a thriller (I was lucky enough to be there, you can read all about it here) but the Hungaroring in Budapest has a history of throwing up surprise results. Indeed, the winner of this race hasn’t gone on to win that year’s championship since 2004. Let’s pull out the history books and remind ourselves of some Magyar Nagydíj modern classics…

Hungary 2014

Who can forget Daniel Ricciardo’s heroics 12 months ago? The Australian Red Bull driver won three times in 2014 but this was surely his best. Going into the closing stages of a thrilling and unpredictable wet-dry race, three drivers remained nose-to-tail in contention for victory. But it was Daniel with two superb moves past Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton that took the spoils.

Hungary 2011

To be fair, the best Hungarian Grands Prix tend to be those that were weather-affected. Jenson Button’s sensational victory in 2011 came about by him judging said conditions perfectly, beating early leader and team mate Lewis Hamilton to the flag.

Hungary 2009

Lewis Hamilton has won four times at the Hungaroring and this week has even been quoted as saying it might be his favourite track. The constant twists and turns suit his driving style as like in Monaco there is no time for the driver to catch their breath, save for the start finish straight. Although not initially the most liked of circuits, it has now held the race for 30 years and has increased in popularity over the years. The Englishman has certainly enjoyed his years here and perhaps none more sweeter than his victory in 2009 in an underperforming McLaren. Just like in 2013, it was Hamilton’s first victory of the season and was long overdue.

Hungary 2007

Lewis’ first victory at the circuit will forever be overshadowed by the controversy that came earlier in the weekend when team mate Fernando Alonso held him up deliberately in the pits. The tension between the team mates boiled over and arguably cost McLaren both championships that year.

Hungary 2006

Jenson waited a long time for his first victory but halfway through his seventh season in the sport he was in the perfect position to take advantage of wet-dry conditions and take a stunning victory from 14th on the grid. The image of his eyes through his helmet filled with elation is one that will last long in the memories of F1 fans.

Hungary 2003

The day Fernando Alonso emerged on the scene as a future world champion. His performance that day when he took his maiden victory left the paddock in no doubt that the Spaniard was the real deal.

Hungary 1997

Damon Hill was driving an Arrows in 1997 that arguably should have been nowhere near the front of the field and yet the Englishman came agonisingly close to a shock victory.

These are just a pick of some recent classics – I’ve missed Heikki Koveleinen’s sole win in 2008, Mark Webber’s inherited win after Sebastien Vettel’s pitstop error in 2010, two of Hamilton’s great Hungarian wins and more.

Do you rate the Hungarian Grand Prix? What is your favourite Hungarian race?


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