Hungarian Grand Prix – Budapest 20 years ago
Recalling a special time when there was no summer break
That particular 16th August is now twenty years ago. There was no summer break back then, but there were only sixteen Grands Prix in the season, the Hungaroring was less than four kilometres in length and had only been on the calendar for thirteen years. It was the first season of grooved tyres and narrow track F1 cars, the fifth year of refuelling which had such a major impact on strategy.
The victory on 16th August was one of Michael Schumacher’s best with Scuderia Ferrari, mainly because the win had seemed impossible. It was a brilliant result built on ability, coordination and concentration, the concentration required to switch from a two to a three stop strategy after 43 laps, while building up enough of an advantage to emerge still in the lead. And all that while dealing with the Hungarian circuit’s notorious traffic.
Leap forward twenty years and the F1 cars are nice and wide again, refuelling has gone, the Hungaroring main straight is longer and following the GP and two days of testing on Tuesday 31 July and 1 August, the teams will take a well-deserved break as from the following week. Those who build up the pit garages have not had a day off since Germany, heading from there directly to Budapest. The majority of the race team arrives on Wednesday. It’s been a demanding time for everyone and not just because of the work. As for the race, it’s a well-known fact that the Hungarian track is slow, with Vettel’s 2017 pole lap run at just over 206 km/h and overtaking is not easy. The dry tyres available will again be the Medium, Soft and Ultrasoft, while there are a few question marks over the weather for qualifying and the race.