Honda F1 website

SEPTEMBER 20, 2006

Troubles in Hungary

The Hungarian government, a staunch supporter of Formula 1, is under pressure at the moment, following the publication of tapes in which Prime Minister Ferenc GyurcsanyÊsaid that he and his Socialist party had lied to the electorate in order to win the general election held earlier this year. Gyurcsany promised tax cuts but since the election he has since imposed tax increases and has cut back benefits in an effort to solve the problem of Hungary's budget deficit and get it to a position where it can join the Euro. The revelations resulted in two nights of rioting in Budapest with 150 people injured on the first night and another 50 last night during clashes between demonstrators and riot police. It is the worst violence seen in the country since the fall of Communism back in 1989.

The question of whether the Prime Minister can be trusted could spell the end of his political career and if that happens there are no guarantees for the long-term future of the F1 race in the country because of the cost of the Grand Prix each year. A contract is in place for some years to come but that will not stop a new government pulling out if it chooses do to so - even if that involves paying some damages. F1 has been in Hungary since 1986 and has survived a series of different governments but economic pressure is now greater than ever and F1's desire to go to Budapest - once a groundbreaking move - is less than once it was with F1 now looking at a variety of new projects in the old Eastern Bloc, including plans in Russia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.