As Australia's Olympians go through final preparations in the quest for gold in Athens, another young Aussie is set to make his debut tomorrow on one of the world's other big sporting stages - in Formula One, in Budapest, where his grandfather raced 78 years ago.

Frank Lehner was a co-driver, or riding mechanic as they were known in those days, in a Daimler-Benz in the 1926 Budapest Grand Prix at the Nepliget, a venue said to have been somewhat similar to Melbourne's Albert Park, home to the modern Foster's Australian GP that is the opener to each F1 season.

Lehner's grandson, Ryan Briscoe, 22, from Drummoyne in Sydney, will take to the Hungaroring circuit on the outskirts of Budapest tomorrow in the third of Toyota's F1 cars for the first day's practice at the 13th round of this year's world championship.

Elevated to third driver for Toyota since the sacking of Brazilian racer Cristiano da Matta last week, Briscoe will take part in the two Friday practice sessions at the remaining six GPs this season.

Hungary will mark the second outing of Toyota's B-spec 2004 F1 cars - revised from the original by the Japanese-owned, German-based team's highly-regarded new British technical chief Mike Gascoyne. The revamped Toyota showed signs of promise at the German GP three weeks ago but da Matta and French driver Olivier Panis could not deliver results in the race.

However, Briscoe is hopeful it will enable him to showcase his talents and earn a full-time race drive in F1 next year. That won't be with Toyota, despite his long-term contract with the car giant, as it already has signed German Ralf Schumacher for 2005 and is expected to recruit Jarno Trulli, the Italian who was victorious in this year's Monaco GP - the only race not won by Ferrari's Michael Schumacher this season.

Instead Briscoe is hoping a deal can be done for him to race for a smaller private team like fellow Australian Paul Stoddart's Minardi, with which Mark Webber began his GP career three years ago, or Jordan.

Hungary has been part of the F1 world championship since 1986, when it staged the first major motor sport event in the former Eastern bloc. Budapest's 4.381km track is the slowest in the championship apart from Monaco's street circuit.

In that first GP 18 years ago the chequered flag was waved a lap earlier than planned because the two-hour race limit had been reached despite there not having been a drop of rain. The Hungaroring is narrow and dusty, it gets bumpier each year, and there are few overtaking opportunities. The forecast for Budapest tomorrow is 32 degrees but with a cool breeze and possibly some showers.

Like Australia, the beautiful city on the Danube River is focussed on the upcoming campaigns of Hungary's Olympians in Athens as well as its own GP driver, Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner, but according to journalist Istvan Simon it is embracing Briscoe as 'our Ryan'.

The broadsheet newspaper Nepszabadsag, meaning Freedom of the Nation, has featured Briscoe prominently already - as the sport's new boy, but especially because of his grandfather's association with Budapest. Lehner was Austrian. He was born in Iglau in the era of the Austro Hungarian dual monarchy. The place is now called Jihlava and is part of the Czech Republic.

Briscoe's family have photos of Lehner co-driving the Daimler-Benz in Budapest in 1926. The driver is unknown but is thought to have been a prince. Lehner also helped prepare cars for French teams in the famous Le Mans 24-hour sports car race in the 1920s. He died before Briscoe was born.

"I'm sure my family got the racing bug in the blood from when he was racing," Briscoe said. "My father (Geoff) used to drive rally cars (as has an uncle, Doug, who is also a familiar face at speedway racing in Sydney in the company of dirt-track legend Garry Rush), while I'm on the doorstep of my big dream, becoming an F1 driver."

In just three years Webber has gone from minnow Minardi to being signed by one of the sport's icon teams, Williams-BMW, for next year - and Briscoe hopes to benefit from the esteem in which Webber is now held.

"Mark's success has been fantastic for the sport in Australia, and I'm sure now that he has been doing so well in F1 for Minardi and Jaguar, and now has got a Williams seat, there are a lot more fans in Australia supporting F1," Briscoe said.

"He has been proving to be a very competitive driver. He's a smart guy and a good person to get along with and I think his success has probably been good for me, too."

Briscoe is hopeful, but not holding his breath, that Australian companies may contemplate sponsoring him, and help make a deal with Minardi or Jordan possible, having seen Webber's fairytale rise.

Like most F1 drivers, Briscoe's early racing was in karting. It led him to live in Italy, alone, from the age of 15. He raced all the way up to world championships and, although he never took a world title, at least one F1 identity rated him the best racer he'd seen in a go-kart. One of Briscoe's karting contemporaries was Spaniard Fernando Alonso, who a year ago in Budapest became F1's youngest GP winner at 22 years and 27 days, lapping Michael Schumacher in the process.

In his first season of racing cars Briscoe won the Italian Formula Renault Championship in 2001. Last year he won the European Formula Three Championship, beating Austrian Christian Klien, who has been Webber's Jaguar teammate this year.

Another driver in the F3 series was German Timo Glock, who drove a Jordan in this year's Canadian GP and finished fifth.

So how does Briscoe feel at seeing others he has beaten driving in F1 before him?

"It's a bit frustrating, but I'm definitely not complaining because I'm in a very good position with Toyota and still have, hopefully, a very good future in front of me," Briscoe said. "I've just got to be a little bit patient this year. Things are still looking up for the future."

Already, as a test driver for Toyota, Briscoe has driven almost 10,000 kilometres in F1 cars this year, but well away from the public glare. In any case, he believes it more important to impress those around him in the team than those on the outside.

"Really, on the outside, people rarely can see exactly what's going on, what sort of tyres you're using, what fuel loads, the different parts we try," Briscoe said. "The only people who really know what the performance should be are the people on the inside.

"There have been times when I can see that I've got the good tyres on my car and stuff to do well. That's a time when you need to go out and do a quick lap time and try to impress the people on the outside, but apart from that it's always about performing well with whatever car you've got and just trying to make a good impression inside the team.

"Whenever I've been on a par with the other drivers in the team (Panis, Da Matta, and Ricardo Zonta, the Brazilian who replaces Da Matta in one of the race cars this weekend) I've been as quick as, or quicker, than them.

"(Despite not racing in any series) This year has been very good for me and I've earned quite a lot of respect within the team.

"(With the B-spec car) We're definitely hoping to have a better latter part of the season (than the disappointments that have yielded only eight points so far, despite Toyota's massive budget).

"I'm still fully supported by Toyota, but at the moment they're not being very willing to put up the money to have me race with one of the other teams for next year. I don't know whether it would be Jordan or Minardi or whoever. It has to be some team that doesn't have any conflict with Toyota.

"They (Toyota) have sort of put it down to me and my manager (Italian Max Angelelli) to find the money and we're just trying to work something out at the moment. It's not easy, but definitely that's what I would like to be doing next year. It would be perfect for me to get race experience with one of the smaller teams.

"I'm not the only one out there waiting to get in. But, definitely, with all this shuffling (of drivers for 2005) you never know what could happen. I feel ready and am always keeping myself on my toes and my foot in the door. Whatever opportunities arise, I will be making the most of them."