What time is the Hungarian GP this weekend? And will it rain?
F1 is back in Hungary a year on from Esteban Ocon’s incredible win. Here’s all you need to know about this weekend’s race
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.
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.
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.
What time is the Hungarian GP? And what time is qualifying?
For British fans, the track action kicks off on Friday with the first practice session (FP1) beginning at 1pm (BST) and the second shakedown (FP2) at 4pm. There’s a third at midday on Saturday before qualifying gets underway at 3pm. So we should know who’s on pole for the race about an hour after that.
The Hungarian Grand Prix itself is scheduled to start at 2pm on Sunday 31 July. We say ‘scheduled to’ because…
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. Which 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 tyres. 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 (2.722 miles) 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 favourites 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.
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.
How can I watch the Hungarian GP?
In the UK you have two choices: subscribe to Sky Sports for their dedicated F1 channel, or sign up to Now TV and get access to Sky Sports that way. If you’re prepared to avoid spoilers all day you could of course watch the highlights on Channel 4: the best action from qualifying will be broadcast at 7.30pm on Saturday, with the race highlights programme starting at 6:30pm on Sunday.
Tuning in via the radio instead? BBC Radio 5 Live will bring you all the action. Just without pictures, obviously.
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 tyre 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.
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.