While talk of taking Formula 1 to new regions and markets has been a popular line since the arrival of owners Liberty Media, Hungary holds memories of a previous new era when the sport went into unchartered territory.

In 1986 the Hungarian Grand Prix was a freshly unearthed jewel in the F1 calendar at the height of the European summer and offered a new opportunity for the sport. Boldly, F1 would travel across from the iconic Hockenheimring in West Germany to go behind the Iron Curtain to the brand new and untested Hungaroring for the first time in its history.

Given the deal was orchestrated by Bernie Ecclestone, it seems odd to think the former F1 supremo was seen as holding the sport back in his final years in charge when three decades previous he'd be leading it into unfamiliar territory.

The race itself was a storming success with recorded attendance figures of 200,000 fans gathering from across the Eastern European communist countries to get a glimpse of a very Western world. Since then F1 has become a mainstay of Budapest sporting culture having remained an ever-present race on the F1 calendar since its historic maiden run 31 years ago.

The 1986 race itself is remembered for Nelson Piquet Jr winning a classic battle against fellow countryman Ayrton Senna around the Hungaroring. The circuit itself, criticised for the lack of overtaking opportunities, has remained largely unchanged since its opening race having been the first circuit purpose built for F1 with Hungary keen to put itself in the sporting spotlight in the closing years of the Soviet Bloc.

Fast forward three decades and the Hungaroring holds a favourable post as the final race before the summer break and with quick access to the bustling Budapest city centre, teams and drivers are often known to relax and party after a gruelling opening half of the year.

Only Monza and Monaco have hosted more consecutive F1 races, beating Silverstone by a year, and with consistently high attendance numbers it is one race F1 will hold on to tightly. While the future of the British Grand Prix remains unclear the Hungaroring recently signed a new deal to keep F1 returning until 2026.

As culture trends develop, Budapest has gained a slightly more Western feel but stark reminders of its Soviet past remain to give the race a unique feel and one Liberty shouldn't be looking to relinquish.

Hungary has long since had a home hero to cheer on, while any potential F1 teams from the nation seem even further away, but fans flock for all over Europe, including a large Finnish contingent to support Kimi Raikkonen, which infuses a multicultural feel to the race.

Which road Liberty wants F1 to head down a lesson from Hungary can be learnt as one of the sport's genuine success stories of the past 30 years.



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