F1 Steps into the Unknown: Hungary’s First Visit in 1986

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Hungarian grand prix

The Hungarian Grand Prix has become a consistent fixture on the Formula 1 calendar. 2018’s was the 33rd annual visit without interruption, all of them taking place at the Hungaroring circuit near Budapest. Underlining its ubiquity, only Monaco and Monza have had a longer continuous run.

It wasn’t always this way though, as when F1 made its first visit in 1986 it could barely have represented more of a leap into the unknown. Hungary in 1986 was ‘behind the Iron Curtain’, a Soviet satellite state with minimal open contact with ‘the West’.

‘You’ve got to put this into perspective,’ says Derek Warwick who drove in the race for Brabham. ‘It’s not like going back to Paul Ricard or Barcelona, the places that we knew the system.’

F1 visited hungary in 1986

Moreover, Hungary was a Communist country wherein, in as far as the Western consensus went, things were different and not for the better.

‘Although I was excited I was also nervous because you’re not really sure what the country’s going to offer,’ Warwick continued, ‘If it’s going to offer you anything, whether it’s going to be aggressive, whether it’s going to be police-ruled, whether or not you will feel comfortable. So there was a lot of questions we all had.’

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Graham Keilloh

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