The Hungaroring, also known as ‘Monaco without the walls’, is a circuit that has always played to our traditional strengths. It’s not an outright power track and it’s tight and twisting layout (predominantly made up of low- and medium-speed corners) accents aerodynamic stability. And that fact is borne out by the stats, as the Team has scored nine podium finishes at the Budapest circuit. It’s not our highest podium strike rate – that honour goes to Japan and Singapore with a round dozen each – but from 14 attempts it’s still an impressive haul.
But, from a host of Hungarian highlights, which races stand out as the Bulls’ best of Budapest? Here are our top-five Hungaroring moments…
2009 – Mark Webber, Q3, P3
The 2009 season was the breakthrough campaign for the Team and after claiming its first victory in China, two more wins (GB and Germany) were added in the immediate run-up to the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Victory would elude the Team in Budapest as McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton took a first F1 win for a KERS-assisted car, but Mark Webber took the Team’s 11th podium finish of the season, and our first in Hungary with a carefully controlled drive to third place from P3 on the grid.
It might have been a double podium had Sebastian Vettel managed to convert P2 on the grid, but the German driver was hit by Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen in turn one at the start and was forced to retire from the race on lap 30. Still, P3 was a good return from a tricky weekend in which KERS cars dominated and our Budapest record was up and running.
2010, Mark Webber, Q3, P1
Our first win in Hungary came at the end of what was perhaps Mark Webber’s finest drive in Red Bull colours.
Aussie Grit went into the race in P2 on the grid, having being beaten to pole by Sebastian Vettel, who with four tenths in hand looked in imperious form. And when the lights went out at the start Mark’s job became harder when he was beaten off the line by Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who started from P3.
Everything changed though when Force India’s Vitantonio Liuzzi lost part of his front wing and the Safety Car was released. Seb pitted but the Team gambled and kept Mark on track. With Sebastian’s race then compromised by a penalty for lagging too far behind the safety car, the Team’s hopes were pinned on Mark who needed to build enough of a gap to Alonso to create enough time for a later pit stop. The Aussie drove like a man possessed and after a barrage of laps at qualifying pace, Mark had built the 20 seconds necessary to pit on lap 43 and return to the track in the lead.
“I knew we had a chance to do something good,” he said. “It's a nice way to celebrate my 150th race and a great day for us as a Team on our 100th race weekend.”
2011, Sebastian Vettel, Q1, P2
With six wins and seven pole positions already in the bag, Vettel went to the 2011 Hungarian Grand Prix in total control of the Drivers’ standings. And in Budapest he notched the Team’s 11th pole of the campaign.
The result was in large part down to overnight work by the crew after the German had only managed P5 in FP2. “The boys were working pretty hard and didn't get much sleep,” said Vettel of the raft of changes made before FP3. And their efforts were reward with a superb Q3 performance from the defending champion that saw him edge McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton by 0.163s.
In the race, though, Seb struggled on intermediates on a damp track and a spin dropped him back to an eventual P2 at the flag behind the other McLaren of Jenson Button.
Despite missing out on the win, the result still increased the German’s stranglehold on the Drivers’ standings. Going into the weekend Vettel had been 77 points ahead of Mark. Leaving Budapest he’d stretched the gap to 85 points.
2014, Daniel Ricciardo, Q1, P2
In 2014, the Team’s newest recruit, Daniel Ricciardo, proved to be the season’s surprise package. After taking his first podium finish in Spain, he repeated the feat in Monaco a fortnight later. Then two weeks further on a brilliant maiden victory in Canada marked the young Aussie out as a potential star of the future.
But while the win in Canada had been notable for some fine passing moves, it was in Budapest that the Honey Badger’s reputation as one of the grid’s most ruthless overtakers was confirmed.
Following a wet start, a safety car intervention and two spells in the lead, Daniel entered the closing stages in P3, behind race leader and two-time champion Fernando Alonso and 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton. Undaunted, Daniel muscled his way past Hamilton around the outside of turn two on lap 67 and then, with two laps remaining he powered past Alonso into turn one to take the lead and win the race. “I've got a lot more belief in myself and it's cool, I definitely feel like I belong here now and I've got confidence,” said Daniel of a win that would be followed by five more for the Team.
2015, Daniil Kvyat Q7, P2, Daniel Ricciardo, Q4, P3
The Team’s second double podium finish in Hungary came at the end of an incident-packed race. After qualifying in fourth place Daniel got away badly at the start and dropped back to seventh. Daniil, meanwhile, made a good start to rise to fifth but he flat-spotted a tyre and was forced into a slightly earlier pit stop.
By half distance Daniel had climbed back to fifth place and Daniil was in P12. The race began to come back to the Bulls when the front wing of Nico Hulkenberg’s Renault collapsed and the safety car emerged. Both Bulls pitted for soft tyres and a second-half assault on the leading Ferraris of Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen and the Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Daniel attacked Hamilton but the pair collided, with Hamilton later deemed to be at fault. Having only sustained minor damage, Daniel set off after the fading Räikkönen who had been passed by Rosberg. The Finn, suffering with MG-UK problems was easy meat and the Honey Badger set off after Rosberg. However, Daniel’s first attempt result in another collision and both drivers pitted.
That left the way open for Daniil, who had steadily climbed through to fifth behind Daniel in the final 20 laps. The Russian sailed through to take his first career podium finish. Daniel, meanwhile, pitted for repairs and more soft tyres and with time in hand took the ninth podium finish of his 29 to date.