The 1980s, by means of major changes in East-West European relations and the exasperation of the political, economic and social contradictions of the countries of the Communist bloc, marked an ideal watershed from the previous decade. A heavy step in history that also involved Hungary: the party and the ruling elite, sensing the strong wind that would soon overwhelm the socialist system, began a policy of progressive and continuous openings to democratic opposition, demanding more and more spaces for personal and economic freedom, and recognition official through free elections.
In August 1986, in the midst of a revolutionary atmosphere, the Hungarian territory meets the World Championship for the first time. A veil of general curiosity envelops F1which wonders how a nation related to the “Eastern bloc” can host the Hungarian Grand Prix, the first world championship organized in Eastern Europe. Yet, the country is pervaded by a certain economic well-being, given above all by the setting aside of the original canons of Communism and the opening to private initiative. In addition, the Grand Prix is considered a bargain, the presale of tickets makes it clear that the one offered by the top flight is a spectacle awaited by popular acclaim. Curiosity also reserved for theHungaroring. The winding circuit created on a rather dusty ground about twenty kilometers from Budapest, 4013 meters long (at the time) and with a solid and smooth asphalt, which offers difficult overtaking and a non-existent ‘grip’.
The Hungarian stage is the eleventh of the season. The McLaren TAG by Alain Prost and Keke Rosberg are a winning and dominating reality, but the powerful Honda engine that equips the Williams makes patron Frank’s team one of the most accredited to take the world champion title away from reigning world champion Prost, with Nigel Mansell and newcomer Nelson Piquet. The Brazilian two-time world champion, after his long marriage with Brabham and the titles won in ’81 and ’83, has started his new English adventure well. He arrives at the Hungaroring with two wins and four podiums. Even Ayrton Senna, the confirmed promise, can have a say about him with the Lotus-Renault, while Ferrari seems to be struggling with Michele Alboreto and Stefan Johansson.
Senna is aware of being able to aim for the conquest of the Hungarian track after having conquered the pole position with an excellent 1’29 ”450, leaving behind Piquet, Prost and Mansell. On the day of the race, a hot August 10thconfirmation of the success hoped for by the organizers of the Grand Prix. In fact, the track is full of fans, the queue of cars on the highway that connects Budapest to the circuit touches sensational peaks for an Eastern European country. In addition to local fans, there are also numerous Czechoslovakian, East German and Polish spectators. There are even Italians, who took advantage of the holiday period to attend the event.
The race promises to be long and difficult not only for the tortuosity of the course, but also for the fatigue that could attack the riders given the oppressive heat. At the start, Senna took the lead followed by Mansell, Piquet, Patrick Tambay’s Lola, Prost, Alan Jones (Lola), Johnny Dumfries’ Lotus, René Arnoux on Ligier, Rosberg, Johansson and Riccardo Patrese’s Brabham. On the third lap Piquet is already second. He has the black and gold silhouette of Senna’s car in his sights and his attack is not long in coming. Piquet overtakes his rival on the 11th passMeanwhile, behind them Prost seems to be able to enter the fight but is slowed down by a problem with the injection control unit of his McLaren and is subsequently forced to retire due to a contact with Arnoux.
Halfway through the Grand Prix there are no more doubts: the attention of the cameras, spectators and commentators is all directed to the duel Piquet / Senna. The acclaimed Carioca champion cannot bear the growing popularity of the young Paulista antagonist and would do anything to blatantly humiliate him. Mansell follows spaced out in third position, who for the long gap is cut off from the race record except for surprises that only the sign on the pit wall can communicate to him.
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Stops begin to replace tires. Piquet’s Williams replaced them on lap 35, Senna overtook him and pushed his Lotus to the bottom, improving his times in succession. When he accumulates about 30 seconds ahead of his opponent he decides to return to the pits. It is lap 43 and Ayrton is back on track keeping the first position with a margin of over seven seconds over his opponent. The emotion and the show dominate the final stage, with Piquet squeezing his car to get close to Senna and overtake himan operation difficult to repeat on a track like the Hungarian one.
Unexpectedly, however, here is the sensational turning point on lap 56: the Williams driver, who meter after meter recovered the disadvantage, reinvents overtaking on the outside in the corner at the end of the main straight, in controlled skid, accompanied by overwhelming applause. He leaves Senna behind and runs towards victory. Piquet becomes the first conqueror of the Hungarian Grand Prix, the first to be held by the noisy embrace of about 200,000 hearts pulsing with passion at the Hungaroring, direct witnesses of a company that has entered the legend and history of overtaking Formula 1 that puts Mansell’s podium in the background, Johansson’s fourth place and the points taken by Dumfries and Martin Brundle’s Tyrrell.
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