Anthony Davidson's lap of the Hungaroring
Tight, twisty, dusty and a real technical challenge - Sky Sports F1's Anthony Davidson is your guide for a corner-by-corner tour of Budapest's Hungarian GP circuit...
By Anthony Davidson. Last Updated: 23/07/13 11:20am
Turn One of the Hungaroring has been modified in recent years and, to be honest, I much prefer the current version to how it was before.
The change has lengthened the straight slightly - which is always a good thing when you're trying to overtake another car and especially so at a circuit where overtaking is so very difficult. I think I speak for all drivers when I say that the modification provides a nicer start to the lap than it used to be.
It's relatively easy to pick your braking marker into Turn One - in fact, it's a little bit uphill so you always seem to be able to brake quite late and deep here, and, even if it goes slightly wrong and you out-brake yourself, there's a sea of tarmac on the exit. It's one of those corners which goad drivers into having a go - and it's also realistically your only chance to overtake through the lap.
After Turn One, the track dips down the hill, winding around a right-hand kink, and the car needs to be put on the right-hand side of the track for Turn Two - which offers probably the second-best chance of an overtake on the lap. The track is still continuing to fall away in front of you, meaning it's very easy to lock your inside-front tyres when turning in here.
The run to Turn Two - the second DRS zone this year
It's a very difficult corner to get right and, in qualifying especially, we're likely to see quite a few cars lock up here. It's also a very important corner and somewhere you can lose a lot of lap time because you have to sacrifice the exit in order to get the car over to the left-hand side of the track for the flat-out, right-hander Turn Three.
You really feel the elevation drop as you go through the exit of two into Turn Three. The car picks up speed faster than normal and if you find that you've gone too far wide on the exit of two then you'll probably have to back out of it through three - which will cost a heap of time because Turn Three leads on to the second longest straight on the circuit. The important thing on the exit of Turn Three is also not to run too much onto the exit kerb as the car can bottom out there and that will also cost you time heading on to the straight.
The circuit really starts to climb at this stage and, although it's not always apparent on television, the elevation change is pretty severe. The summit of the hill is Turn Four itself, making it a blind corner on entry with a tiny little kink just before the fast-left hander and so finding your line, and knowing when to turn in and what speed to carry, is very tricky.
We often see cars run wide on four; it used to be a lot harder when there was just gravel on the exit and a little bit of the challenge has been taken away by the addition of some extra run-off area and asphalt. Nevertheless, it's still a very demanding corner, and a corner where, for instance, if you turn a little bit too early and clip the inside kerb, the car can be bounced offline at high speed. You need to be very, very precise, brave and confident here.
Turn Five is another tricky corner. At the beginning of the week it's fairly slow, but it then becomes quicker and quicker as the circuit is rubbered in to the point that, although it looks like a hairpin on the circuit map, it almost turns into a sweeper taken in third gear - still at quite slow speed, but not quite as slow as you might first think. This section of the track is quite bumpy and you never quite seem to reach the apex kerb in what is quite a strange corner. It doesn't seem to matter whether you clip the apex or not, you always seem to find yourself in the middle of the track and still able to keep your foot down on the exit.
That then leads on to the short straight towards Turns Six and Seven -a rough-and-ready chicane which still feels untouched by the modern hand of Formula 1. If you take too much kerb here, it will retaliate by bouncing the car, but it's also one of those corners that gives the circuit its character. Sometimes, but mainly in the wet, we see cars trying to overtake here. It's very difficult to do, but with the new regulations in place it's possible we'll see a different approach from the drivers this weekend and a few of them will stick their nose in going into the braking zone.
Time to attack - the Turn Six and Seven chicane
In any case, it's a very slow section, taken at about 55mph in second gear, requiring a car that is very good at changing direction and being able to cope with striking the kerbs. If you take too much kerb, especially on the inside of seven, it can really upset the car and sometimes result in a spin. This is a difficult and frustrating part of the track, but it can be rewarding in terms of your lap time if you do thread your car through efficiently.
After the chicane, the track really starts to open up and begins to flow - if you have lots of downforce, this is a great section to drive, but, equally, it can be a nightmare if your car has a nervous rear-end. I've driven a Minardi around here as well as the car in which Jenson won for the first time - quite the contrast in machinery and I know which one I preferred!
Turn Eight is a relatively fast left-hander, and it's important to sacrifice its exit for the right-handed Turn Nine - the same sequence of turns follows on from here but is taken at a much higher speed. Turn Ten is easily full throttle and we're now into a great part of the track: Turn Eleven.
It's been played around with over the years, but I think they've now found a good balance between keeping it high speed and a technical challenge as well. The trick is to get the car as close to the left-hand side of the track as possible around Turn Ten, hugging the inside and not upsetting the car in its transition from turning left to right. So a driver should try to ease the car out of the left-hander into as straight a line as possible before turning in for Eleven. It's very important to get this right because this is a corner where you can make up a bit of time - and also a corner that will reward a car boasting a heap of downforce.
On exit, running too wide onto the exit kerbs will scrub your speed, and the track then falls down the hill towards the 90-degree Turn Twelve. This is a corner which has a modern feel, with quite a bit of run-off and flat kerbs, and there's nothing to be intimidated about here. It's rare to see an overtake into Twelve, but if someone has made a pig's ear of Eleven then they will be vulnerable.
The entry to Turn 13
Twelve then leads up a slight hill and back over to the right-hand side of the track for the penultimate corner - which is a really nice challenge, and one which you feel you can attack on entrance. However, just before you exit, the corner pinches on you, and if you've carried too much speed on the entrance then you'll suddenly find yourself out of road and unable to carry the speed that you thought you would. It's an interesting corner - frustrating if you're carrying too much understeer, but also definitely one where you can make up time.
The track climbs a little more towards Turn Fourteen, and a driver will be looking to get the car over to the left-hand side for a corner which I would say is the most disappointing of the track. It feels pretty slow, in between second and third gear with nothing ever feeling quite right in terms of its gear ratio, and a bit like driving on a roundabout. There's no true apex, it's quite bumpy and just a little too high speed to follow another car closely through - which is one of the reasons why overtaking is so difficult into the circuit's most favourable place, Turn One.
It has also an exit that goads you into putting your foot down earlier than you should, which can often catch you out, especially on race day when there's a lot of marbling just offline. It's one of those corners where you just can't carry the speed and distance to the car in front on the exit - an exit that brings us back onto the start-finish straight to complete another lap of the Hungaroring.