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31 MAR - 03 APR 2016

• F1’s first foray behind what used to be known as the Iron Curtain came in 1986 at a purpose-built circuit near the village of Mogyoród. The Hungaroring is less than a 30-minute drive north-east of the wonderful twin cities of Buda and Pest – where you can still see bullet-holes on the walls going back to the failed anti-Communist uprising of 1956. In F1’s turbo-charged heyday Ayrton Senna put his Lotus Renault on pole that first year but it was compatriot Nelson Piquet’s Williams Honda which won, as it did again in 1987.

• The circuit originally stretched to just 4.014km, was reduced to 3.968 – shorter than any other bar Monaco – in 1989 but has expanded since then to its current 4.381km, first used in 2003. Set in a natural bowl where the heat can be intense and the watermelon sellers do a roaring trade, it has always been known as a tight, difficult track where overtaking is at an absolute premium – as Senna found out to his cost when he could not force his McLaren past Thierry Boutsen’s Williams in 1989.

• McLaren, however, is the most winning team in Hungary with 11 victories in the 27 events held there to date, shared among six different drivers. The last of them came in 2012 with Lewis Hamilton, already a Budapest winner in 2007 and 2009. One of McLaren’s other Hungarian heroes is Heikki Kovalainen, whose lone GP win was in Hungary in 2008. Williams boasts seven, albeit none since 1997, and Ferrari just five, the last of them as far back as 2004.

• In 2006 the Hungaroring was the backdrop for the solitary Grand Prix win of Honda’s final spell in F1; it was further notable for being the first victory by England’s Jenson Button, who would wait nearly another three years for his next, with Brawn GP in Australia.

• In 2010 Mark Webber drove a splendidly thought-out race to claim his sixth Grand Prix success, pouncing when Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel was caught napping behind the Safety Car and putting in a string of virtual qualifying laps on super-soft tyres to buy himself time for a reasonably comfortable last trip to the pits.

• In 2011 in his 200th start Button, now a McLaren driver, demonstrated his famous touch in wet conditions to earn his 10th Grand Prix win – there were 88 pit stops in all as drivers and mechanics searched for the right Pirelli tyres for the slippery conditions.

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