They say that the Hungaroring is like Monte Carlo without the barriers, and that rings true, as there aren’t many circuits on the calendar with as little margin for error. The Hungaroring has hosted the Hungarian Grand Prix every year since its inception in 1986.
The track’s layout has been opened up slightly over the decades, but still retains its characteristically tight and twisty nature. Overtaking is extremely difficult here, as is keeping the car on the track and within the white lines. You have to optimise a mixture of aggression and smoothness to be quick around this circuit, but it’s so rewarding when you get it right.
The Hungaroring is one of the slowest tracks in F1 2019 in terms of straight line speed, but you’ll still be barrelling towards Turn 1 at over 190 mph (306 kph). Brake at around 75m down to second gear and avoid the inside kerbing, it’s very harsh and will unsettle the rear of the car.
Be gentle when getting back on the throttle, traction is at a premium here. Also be wary that the second DRS zone begins at soon as the straight does, so you need to be straightened up right away to get its full benefit.
The first corner is effectively a hairpin and comes at the end of the longest DRS straight, meaning that this is the best overtaking spot on the track. However, as taking the inside or outside line doesn’t affect the levels of grip too much, the driver you’re attacking does have a good chance to defend. The battle quite often goes to Turn 2, where having the outside line for Turn 1 is beneficial.
Turns 2 & 3
Turn 2 is a 180-degree horseshoe left-hander and is the second and last main overtaking opportunity in Hungary. To attempt a move, you have to be fully alongside and on the inside, otherwise it’s best to back out, as you’ll be overextending yourself.
Brake down to third gear beginning at the 50m board (it’s on the left side of the track) and avoid the inside kerbing like the plague. After enough practice around this track, you’ll learn that those solid grey kerbs are all auto-spin kerbs.
Just before you’ve finished turning left, hammer the throttle down for the run to Turn 3. T3 is a standard right-hander, and you should take it flat, but beware of running wide during the race. If you use the run-off on the exit of T3, you will be given a track extension penalty.
The first two corners are the best overtaking spots on the circuit, as Daniel Ricciardo showed us in 2014.
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Arguably the hardest corner on the track and definitely the one which can gain you the most time is Turn 4. Dab the brakes and stay in seventh gear when you can see the yellow DHL hoarding over the brow of the hill and position the car such that the right-front wheel is riding over the red and white outside kerbing on entry.
Chuck the car left into the corner and cut over the whole of the inside kerbing through the corner, there’s no penalty for doing so. You have to make sure you don’t go close to running all four wheels off the track on exit, going close will invalidate your lap. See the above GIF for how much you can get away with, I just about nailed it on that lap.
As soon as you rounded the corner, put the peddle back on the metal and fire towards Turn 5…
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Just like Turn 2, this another 180 degree corner, but this time to the right. You need to get straight back to the left side of the track after the high-speed Turn 4 and brake down to fourth gear. Finding a braking marker is difficult, but I use the grey stewards hut on the left side of the track to know when to decelerate.
This corner is like Silverstone’s Luffield, you have to be patient when getting back on the throttle, you’ll be able to do so again just before exiting the corner. Avoid all kerbing and don’t worry if you don’t hit the apex, it’s sometimes better to take a wider line and carry more speed.
Turns 6 & 7
Turns 6 and 7 begin a series of chicanes that make up most of the mid-sector of the lap. Get as close to the grass on the left-hand side as you can to get the best line through the corners. Brake at the 50m board down into third gear and clatter both the right and left-handers’ kerbs on the inside. Get back on the throttle midway through the chicane and watch the rear end on exit, as it can sometimes get away from you.
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Turns 8 & 9
Turn 8 comes quickly after T7, so you need to have your wits about you. Dab on the brakes and stay in fifth gear through this one, avoiding all the kerbs as this does unsettle the car. The point at which the “Fly Emirates” hoardings on the left disappear from view in T-cam is your braking marker. Get back on the throttle briefly again before the right-hander of T9.
Turn 9 is more arduous, some brake for this one, but I prefer to lift through this one down to fourth gear. Avoid the kerbing on the inside but use plenty on the outside on exit, as you can see in the above image. Get back on the throttle to power towards T10 just before you’ve rounded the corner and fade back to the right.
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Turns 10 & 11
There was a time when you needed to lift for Turn 10, but those days are gone with the incredible levels of grip the 2019 F1 cars have at their disposal. You can take T10 flat and should avoid the inside kerbing but take the tightest line possible to be fast.
Turn 11 requires a dab on the brakes down to sixth gear, which is followed by powering back on the power straight away. Use a little kerb on exit, but not much more than a wheel, as you’ll be punished for track extending if you do.
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Turn 12 is a standard 90-degree right-hander but it’s not that much of an overtaking opportunity. It’s very difficult to follow through Turns 10 and 11 and the corner bites on the exit, meaning a move down the inside is difficult.
Brake at 75m down to third gear and kiss the inside kerbing through the corner, no more than a kiss, though, as it’ll throw the car off balance otherwise. Get straight back on the power and use a considerable amount of exit kerb, as there’s no real punishment for doing so.
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Like Turn 5, this corner is another exercise in patience. It’s banked, so it suckers you into accelerating before you actually can. Get as far to the right as you can and brake down to third gear just after the “Fanatec” hoarding above. Hug the inside kerbing but don’t put a full wheel over it, as it will spin you out at the low speed you’ll be going.
Keep turning with the same lock and only get back on the power once you’ve fully rounded the corner, getting on it early will end with you going into the grass.
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The final corner on the circuit is another exercise in patience, but you can’t get this one wrong, as the longest straight on the circuit follows it. Swing as far to the left as you can after Turn 13 and brake while turning in at the white line which goes across the track before the corner. Brake down to fourth gear and take as tight of a line as possible, running wide here costs you heaps of time.
Get back on the power about three quarters of the way around the corner, traction isn’t an issue here, but running wide is and while you should use some exit kerb, don’t go over the red and white. DRS activation follows quickly after the corner, so get the car pointing the right direction as quickly as possible.
There aren’t many long straights in Hungary, so high levels of aerodynamics are a must. I went with 7 on the front and 10 on the rear of the car, you need more on the rear because of corners like Turn 9, where the rear end tries to get away from you.
The Transmission for the on-throttle differential has to be unlocked to aid traction, around 70% is the highest you can get away with. As usual, a higher value for the off-throttle is best, as close to 100% as you can manage.
Tyre wear is manageable here as long as you don’t push the fronts too much. The camber and toe values can’t be too adventurous, but as close to full right camber and full left toe as possible.
The springs have to be extremely soft, as you need to use and abuse the kerbs in abundance around here to be fast. I went with the lowest value possible for the front and rears, 1/1. There are quite a few high-speed direction changes, so the anti-roll bar has to be on the stiff side at 10/9. The ride height needs to be a little lower than usual, at around 3 for both the front and rear to help straight line speed.
You need the brakes to be high pressure because of the big stops around here, around 90% is best to avoid too many lock-ups. The bias should be at around 53% as usual. The tyres pressures have to be lower on the rear than the front, 23.8 psi on the fronts and 21.1 psi on the rear is the max you can get away with without too much overheating.
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