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.
Fast Facts - Provided by the FIA
2017 marked the 32nd Hungarian Grand Prix. The race, joined the Formula One calendar in 1986 and has been held at the Hungaroring ever since.
Lewis Hamilton is Formula One's most successful driver at the Hungaroring, with five victories so far. He won with McLaren in 2007, 2009 and 2012 then with Mercedes in 2013 and 2016. The Hungaroring is one of four venues at which the Briton has won five times or more. He has won at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve six times and at Silverstone and China's Shanghai International Circuit five times.
Hamilton's 2016 win put him one clear of previous Hungary win record holder Michael Schumacher. The German is followed by Ayrton Senna (3).
Aside from Hamilton, four previous Hungarian Grand Prix winner are set to line up on the grid this weekend. Fernando Alonso took his maiden
win here in 2003 with Renault, Kimi Raikkonen won in 2005 for McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo won with Red Bull Racing in 2014 and Sebastian Vettel took victory with Ferrari in 2015.
McLaren is by far the most successful constructor at this race, with 11 victories, four more than closest rival, Williams. Ferrari have six wins, while Red Bull Racing and Mercedes are the only other multiple Hungarian GP winners with two victories apiece.
Michael Schumacher has the most pole positions here, with seven. Hamilton is next with five. Three other current drivers have started this race from the front of the grid: Alonso (2003, 2009), Vettel (2010, 2011) and Raikkonen in 2006.
Apart from Alonso, three other drivers have registered their maiden win in Hungary. Damon Hill won for Williams in 1993, Jenson Button took victory for Honda in 2006, while Heikki Kovalainen won with McLaren in 2008.
Jos Verstappen, father of current Red Bull Racing driver Max, scored his first career podium finish at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 1994, with Benetton. The elder Verstappen's only other podium appearance was at the Belgian Grand Prix in the same year. Max, meanwhile, has a best finish of fourth in Hungary, in 2015. The teenage driver has eight career podiums to his credit so far, however.
Aside from Jos Verstappen, three other drivers have stood on the podium for the first time in their career. Pedro de la Rosa was second for McLaren in 2006, Timo Glock was second for Toyota in 2008 and Daniil Kvyat took the same position for Red Bull Racing in 2015.
Raikkonen is tied with Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher as the driver with the most podium appearances at the Hungaroring, with seven. The Finn has one win, as mentioned, five second places (2003, '07, '09, '12, '13) and one third place in 2008 to his credit. Raikkonen's Budapest podium tally is not his greatest, however. He has a remarkable eight podium finishes at the Bahrain Grand Prix.