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In sport like in your career: endurance and humility yield success

Interview with Zsolt Gyulay, President and CEO of Hungaroring Sport Zrt.

European Business: Mr. Gyulay, you’ve won Olympic gold multiple times and the world championship in kayaking six times, so you can look back on an exceptionally successful athletic career. What experiences from your time as an athlete have proven beneficial today as President or Managing Director?

Zsolt Gyulay: I believe that everyone – regardless of what level of sport they do – can profit from their experiences in sports in other aspects of life. The higher the level achieved in an individual sport, the more useful experiences you’ll have. Endurance and humility are indispensable in sports: Precisely these qualities are needed in everyday life, as well, perhaps mainly humility by the way.

I believe that everyone – regardless of what level of sport they do – can profit from their experiences in sports in other aspects of life. Zsolt Gyulay

European Business: In kayaking as well as in Formula One, success is measured by time. How do you measure entrepreneurial success?

Zsolt Gyulay: Entrepreneurial success manifests itself in what the company achieves, what results it can produce, what staff the management can put together and how the employees feel at their place of work. As far as the economic aspect is concerned: We`re proud that Hungaroring Sport Zrt. has finished six of the last seven years with a profit. That wasn’t always like this. We are very proud that our Formula 1 contract has been extended until 2026. In addition we changed the asphalt cover of the race track which has been due for decades. By the way, we have not only successfully organized the races, but the racing teams have chosen our track for the collective test in the off-season. That was a special honour.

European Business: The Formula One is booming like it hasn’t in ages. There are 40 contenders for 21 spots on the racing calendar. How does Hungaroring manage to be one of the best race tracks in the world again and again?

Zsolt Gyulay: There’s fierce competition, but the new American rights holder Liberty Media fortunately has a high opinion of our traditions. Nevertheless, it hasn’t hidden the fact that changes and developments will have to be made so that our track can stay on the racing calendar for the long term. At any rate, it speaks for the Hungaroring that the valley, the whole vicinity for that matter, is beautiful. The proximity to the city is greatly appreciated without exception. By the way, I really enjoy working with the Formula One teams: Everyone here is so disciplined. That’s categorically the case in car racing.  On the other hand, a professional attitude is an absolute must. We are part of one of the most popular, if not THE most popular, competitive series in the world. That obliges the pilots as well as the countries as hosts.

I really enjoy working with the Formula One teams: Everyone here is so disciplined. Zsolt Gyulay

European Business: Hungaroring offers more than just Formula One. What other programs or events are important?

Zsolt Gyulay: If we have to highlight a few events, then of course the first is the Grand Prix, which was the gem of the season for us again last year. We are incredibly proud that the Formula One teams decided to hold the official test in the off-season with us for the first time in the history of the race track in 2017. They stayed with us for three days and spent two of them, the Tuesday and the Wednesday, on the track. Beyond that, we hosted a race of the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) again last year. The racing teams of the German Touring Car Championship (DTM) were guests as well as the European Truck Championship. In 2017, we hosted the Hungaroring Classic for the first time, which proved that even locally there is a huge interest in classic race cars. The race cars of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s still make the hearts of fans and organizers beat faster. 

European Business: Hungaroring is involved in a number of areas socially. What topic is especially important for you personally, and why?

Zsolt Gyulay: Every area is very important! But if I had to name just one, it would be road safety education. We always say to ourselves: If we can prevent just one accident with our training in our driving center, it was worthwhile. However, not only the safety of adults is important to us but also that of young people with a new driver’s license as well as of very small children. Their training has great relevance to us. A few examples: We approached new drivers with a quiz about road traffic regulations, and first prize was a car. In addition to that, little ones can playfully learn the basics of safe road use at our MiniRing Camp.

Interview: Dr. Endre Hagenthurn

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