Of all the countries in the former Easter Bloc, Hungary had the freest enterprise culture and the closest links with the West. It also had a motor racing pedigree which went back to a first Grand Prix run in 1906, while there had been racing in Budapest from 1926.
Bernie Ecclestone wanted a race in Russia, but a Hungarian friend recommended Budapest. Initially it was intended that a street circuit be built in the Nepliget, Budapest's largest park, but the government decided on a purpose built new circuit just outside the city near a major highway. Construction work started in October 1985 and the circuit was built in eight months, less time than any other Formula One circuit.
Built with state backing, and laid out in a natural amphitheatre, the Hungaroring opened in 1986 and attracted an estimated 200,000 spectators.
Though the event was well-organised, and the hosts very appreciative, it was felt that the 2.494 mile circuit had been laid out more in the style of a twisty street circuit rather than a bespoke road track. There were few opportunities for overtaking, though things were eased from 1989 when a tight corner, the 'Dirversion' was by-passed and the lap distance became 2.466 miles.
In 2003 a number of modifications were carried out to the track including the lengthening of the start-straight by 202 metres.
However, in the opinion of many, year after year after year the Hungaroring continues to provide one of the most dismal, boring races of the season. This isn't entirely down to the track, but also the 'limitations' of the new breed of F1 car, and indeed the sprint-stop-sprint limitations of the sport.
The Grand Prix is held in the middle of summer, which is usually hot and dry, indeed, the first wet Grand Prix wasn't until 2006. The circuit is normally dusty due to underuse throughout the rest of the year and its sandy soil. As the circuit is in a valley about 80 percent of it can be seen from any point.
Normally an underused circuit becomes faster over the weekend as the track surface gathers more rubber residue; however, with the Hungaroring this generally does not happen because the track can get dusty so quickly. The track frequently becomes faster during a qualifying session, which leads competitors to try for their best lap as late as possible.
The twisty and bumpy nature of the circuit makes overtaking very difficult in dry conditions. Nonetheless, the Hungaroring has been the scene of several memorable races such as the duels of Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell's lost wheel in 1987, Mansell's win from 12th on the grid after a dramatic pass on Ayrton Senna in 1989, Damon Hill's almost victory with Arrows in 1997 and maiden wins for Hill in 1993, Fernando Alonso in 2003, Jenson Button in 2006 in the track's first ever wet grand prix, and Heikki Kovalainen in 2008.
Heavy braking from almost 185 mph on the main straight to under 62 mph at Turn 1 creates the most likely overtaking opportunity on the circuit.
The track runs quite noticeably downhill into Turn 2. With high potential for drivers to out-brake themselves here, they will need to keep their wits about them.
Moderate braking from 150 mph to 90 mph at Turn 5 follows the slight kink of Turn 4; a tricky series of corners taken at medium / high speed.
Turns 4 to 11 very much lead into each other so there's little braking here and no room for error, as a small mistake at any stage can have a big effect on overall lap time. The drivers need a well-balanced car with good change of direction capabilities through this section.
The second slowest corner on the circuit, Turn 13 is a tight left hander taken at around 60 mph before launching the car into the final turn.
A good exit from the third gear Turn 14 is crucial, as it leads on to the circuit's only straight and subsequently into turn one; the best overtaking opportunity around the lap.