Clip The Apex
It is not the most popular of Grand Prix circuits. It is tight and twisty, staggeringly difficult to overtake on, and not especially scenic. Its nicknames hardly inspire confidence - "Monaco without the walls", "the Dustbowl", "Hungaboring". They're also not especially fair.
This is the circuit of the first Grand Prix of the Eastern Bloc, still the only one in that huge area of land between the Berlin Wall and the Black Sea. It is a circuit where the dominant team often fails to dominate: not the only circuit where Red Bull and Mercedes shared the wins between 2013 and 2014, but the only one where they won in the wrong order!
It has been the scene of some drama in the last 10 years as well! 2006 saw Alonso and Schumacher gain separate and equal time penalties before qualifying, and both fail to finish as Button took his inaugural spoils in the rain. 2007 saw the spark which lead to the McLaren implosion. 2008 saw Massa recover his form from a tough summer, but his engine to fail allowing in Kovalainen. 2009 saw the slowest circuit in the world see KERS big break through for Hamilton's McLaren. 2010 was the year of Vettel and 10 car lengths, handing Webber an underserved win. McLaren had a wet battle royale in 2011, when Button made the right calls to take the honours. 2012 saw Grosjean piling on the pressure on Hamilton for half the race, before losing out to both the Englishman and Raikkonen. 2013 was Hamilton's first win for Mercedes. 2014 saw Ricciardo and Alonso hold off the Mercedes.
Hamilton, of course, could well count this his best circuit. He's had 4 victories - each time with Raikkonen second. Vettel has never won here - there's been no German win since 2004. Raikkonen has had to wait since 2005. McLaren have secured a lot of the victories in the last 10 years, but they're obviously going to need divine intervention here. Both of their drivers won their only victory before their respective title years here.
I doubt there'll be too much overtaking, but it often delivers intrigue and interest. Budapest is now a circuit with true history in F1. Will it be a Mercedes win? Well, it doesn't always follow...
Having started winning again at the start of 2014, Lewis Hamilton has pointed out that the trophies recieved by those lucky podium placed drivers are not very good. This is a repeated claim from Hamilton, after he complained in the podium interviews at Silverstone last year that he was receiving a selection of red pipes rather than the traditional winners' trophy at the British Grand Prix.
It was Hamilton's point that Grands Prix should have desirable and historic trophies for victory, rather than having a plastic version of a sponsors' logo as the reward. I agree: I find it difficult to believe that Formula One could claim to be an élite sport with trophies that scream out Poundland. Since the Monaco Grand Prix is sold exclusively on wealth and prestige, why is it giving out this trophy?
If you ask most people they will tell you that 2009 was a boring season of F1 that was dominated by Jenson Button in a car that was massively superior to all the others. That's what they'll say but it really wasn't like that. An under-funded team came out of a massive rule change with an advantage and couldn't afford to develop the car. So then everyone else caught them up and we ended up with a second half of the season where nearly anyone on the grid could pull off a win depending on what weekend and track they were at. But 2009 has a lot more of a legacy than that and lots of things that happened that year started F1 down the path that has lead it into all the issues it has today.
2009 was a revolutionary year in F1 as for the first time in 25 years that the drivers and constructors titles were not won by one of the big four teams. Not only wasn't it won by one of them but it wasn't even contested by any of them. The pecking order had been well and truly shaken. From 1984 onwards the 3 main teams dominating the sport were Ferrari, McLaren and Williams. The 4th team that was an interloper was the team based at Enstone (many name changes). Whilst other teams might have been competitive at times it was these 4 that always led the way, with 2 always being in ascendency whilst the others were in decline. Through 84 to 87 it was McLaren and Williams in ascension with McLaren making the best of it. Come 1988 Williams went into decline and Ferrari were on their way up to compete with McLaren without actually every making it. 1991 saw Williams come back to the fore and Ferrari going into a decline. McLaren's eventual decline started in 93 and this is where the team from Enstone came to the front after many years of being the 4th team. Enstone were at the front for only a couple of years between 94 and 95 before Ferrari then became the main competitor to the dominant Williams team. Williams long period of dominance came to an end in 1998 when the classic Ferrari/McLaren duel resumed until the early noughties when Ferrari became a huge dominating force with both Williams and McLaren nipping at their heels. Ferrari stayed at the front until 2005 when the team from Enstone reached the top of its 10 year cycle and hit the front again before once more falling back down the order after 2 seasons. This left McLaren and Ferrari to dice it out for the next couple of years. It was a simple pattern - one of the teams would be leading the way whilst a couple of the others reset themselves to rebuild back to the top. All until 2009 where the order finally shaken up.
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