Looking forward to the Hungarian GP? Here’s all the important info you need to know

The race kicks off this Sunday
by Joe Holding | Jul 30, 2022
PHOTO: TopGear.com

We’re more than half way through the 2022 F1 season, which means the drivers, teams, and personnel could all do with a bit of a break from the intense globetrotting that comes with being involved in the sport.

And they’ll get it after this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, after which there’ll be a four-week break to give everyone time to recover before racing resumes in Belgium at the end of August. 

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F1 arrives in Hungary off the back of a dramatic French GP, in which Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc crashed out from the lead and handed victory to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

The reigning world champ is now 63 points ahead of his main rival and appears well on his way to a second title. Leclerc has a mountain to climb, and desperately needs to sign off in Hungary with a maximum points haul.

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Meanwhile, the sport is still digesting the news that four-time champion Sebastian Vettel will retire at the end of the season when his contract with Aston Martin ends.

Much to look out for, then. So what time does the Hungarian GP start? And is rain forecast to shake up proceedings? All is revealed below.

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What’s the weather going to be like?

The weather forecast suggests it’s going to be wet. Like, really wet. Severe rain showers and thunderstorms are expected to disrupt qualifying on Saturday, and on Sunday there’s a chance more rain could fall during the grand prix itself. The weather will be a headache for the teams and drivers, but should deliver lots of exciting action for those of us watching at home.

No doubt you’ll remember what happened when it rained here last year: torrential rain helped cause a huge pile-up on the first lap that took several cars out of the race, and when things resumed in drying conditions, everyone bar polesitter Lewis Hamilton dived into the pits for dry-weather tires. That gave us the highly amusing spectacle of the Mercedes driver taking the restart on his own, and after he’d dropped to last place a stunning charge through the field wasn't enough to prevent Alpine’s Esteban Ocon taking his first ever F1 win. Scenes.

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Where is the Hungarian GP taking place?

The Hungarian Grand Prix is being held in the same place as it has done every year since 1986: the Hungaroring, just outside of Budapest. The track is 4.381km long and features fourteen corners, most of which are slow-speed (in F1 terms) turns. That means downforce (and not engine power) is usually the deciding factor that determines performance here.

How many laps is the Hungarian GP?

It’s a short track (again, in F1 terms) so 70 laps are needed to reach the full grand prix race distance, in this case 306.630km.

Last year, the race took more than two hours as the adverse weather reduced the field’s pace significantly, but if conditions stay bone dry throughout and the safety car doesn’t need to intervene at any stage, expect the grand prix to take about an hour and a half.

Who are the favorites for the Hungarian GP?

Red Bull and Ferrari are the only teams to have won races so far this season, so Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc immediately look like the favourites heading into the race. Red Bull’s Sergio Perez has been struggling with the car lately but still has a shot at winning, while Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz has been driving well recently and looks more closely matched to his teammate in terms of raw pace.

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Outside those four, Mercedes have been closing the gap to the top but still look comfortably the third-best team. Lewis Hamilton has won the Hungarian Grand Prix eight times (a record for race wins at one venue, shared with, er, himself at the British GP and Michael Schumacher at the French GP) and he would dearly love to make it nine.

What’s the Top Gear view on the Hungarian GP?

Overtaking is usually tricky at the Hungaroring circuit, which means dry races tend to get little in the way of wheel-to-wheel action unless there’s a big offset in tire life, or a faster car hits trouble and has to fight its way back up through the pack. That said, this year’s new regulations have made the cars much racier, so it’s entirely possible we could see some late lunges during the Grand Prix, especially in turns 1, 2 and 3.

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The unpredictable climate at this time of year also plays into the Hungaroring’s favour, with rain frequently a factor when F1 visits each summer. And F1 is rarely dull when it rains. Expect fireworks if it does this weekend.

NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.

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