The first Hungarian Grand Prix was held in 1936 at a track in Nepliget near central Budapest, and it was well supported by both constructors and fans. Unfortunately, it was the last Grand Prix that the country would see for fifty years. Political upheaval and subsequent war meant that the attention of the Hungarian public and government were turned elsewhere and that it was unsafe to hold a Grand Prix in the country during that time. Despite the untimely start of the Hungarian Grand Prix, it has been a favourite on the Hungarian calendar since 1986 during which time it was noted for being the first race to take place behind the Iron Curtain. It has been held at the twisting Hungaroring track near Budapest ever since being re-established that year, and is today one of the main features on the racing calendar.
The 4.38 kilometre (2.72 mile) track is very narrow and twisty. It is generally used during the dry season and the Hungarian Grand Prix has only had rain on one occasion, in 2006. Because it is often under-utilized, the track tends to be dusty which further adds to its difficulty. Drivers often end up stuck behind one another with little opportunity to pass. Because of this, a good race strategy is key to winning, although some drivers have managed to overtake during the course of some races. Efforts were made to increase the width of the track in 2003 so that more overtaking was possible but the track continues to be an interesting challenge for most Formula One drivers. Because of its relatively short distance, it is lapped 70 times which results in an overall race length of 306.66 kilometres (190.55 miles).
The current track wins record holder is Michael Schumacher who has four Hungarian Grand Prix wins under his belt. The constructor with the most wins is Williams which has enjoyed 7 successes at the track. The track has been the location of a number of notable occasions, including Jenson Button taking first place for Honda, moving up from 14th place on the grid in 2006.
Subsequent wins have been: Lewis Hamilton (2007 and 2009); and Heikki Kovalainen (2008) – both driving for McLaren-Mercedes. The 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix is set to take place from 30 July to 1 August, and it has also been confirmed that this world-class racing facility plans to be part of the F1 racing calendar at least until 2016.
The Formula One race-track, Hungaroring, is situated close to Budapest and is home to the Hungarian Grand Prix. In 1986 it was the scene of the first Formula 1 Grand Prix to take place behind the Iron Curtain. It was Bernie Ecclestone who envisioned a city track based on the same concept as the Circuit de Monaco, and was advised by a friend to turn his attention to Budapest. Instead of having a race-track within the city limits, the communist government moved to outside the city and built and entirely new track. After 20 years it is still the track that was constructed in the shortest space of time, being completed in eight months.
The Hungaroring track is very hot and extremely dusty, with races being held according to the Grand Prix calendar, placing the event in the middle of the central European summer. The dust that is found on the track is attributed to the fact that the track is not in use throughout the racing season. However, its location, in a valley in close proximity to Budapest is a contributing factor, as it acts as a magnet for the dust and litter that originates from the city. In addition, the track is built on extremely sandy soil, and therefore if a car’s wheel moves off the track, it causes a massive and blinding dust cloud. Usually as a track rubbers in it will gradually become faster. This is not so in Hungaroring’s case, as the track remains scattered with dust, so running late during qualifying can sometimes work to a drivers’ advantage.
Despite what so may view as obstacles, Hungaroring has been the scene of some spectacular moments, such as in 1987 when Nigel Mansell lost his wheel, or the famous duels between Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet. Not forgetting the year of 1997, an Arrows car and a talented driver named Damon Hill. And there are many more of these moments to look back on.
In its 20 year history, the Hungaroring race track has managed to crown two very talented drivers, namely Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher, who during their individual careers both managed to clinch the title of the World Championship very early in the racing season. Two drivers who made their debut into F1 on this track were Zsolt Baumgartner of Hungary and Robert Kubica of Poland. The Constructors Championship was won by the Williams F1 Team in 1996 at the Hungaroring Race Track. Many drivers are divided in opinion when asked about the track, and a few minor changes have been made to the track over the years, but due to some of the most exciting moments in F1 having taken place here, their contract has been extended to 2011.