It’s a matter of days until Formula One breaks up for the summer and an end of term feeling is already spreading through the paddock. F1 sponsor UBS sensed this and laid on a lavish dinner for the always ravenous media corps in the Paddock Club on Thursday night. Let’s hope the journalists took on plenty of sustenance because many of them will take part in a special group track run on Saturday night. UBS are donating money to the Make-A-Wish foundation for every person who completes a lap, so let’s hope everyone in the paddock will temporarily put down their engineering sheets, close their laptops and lace up their running shoes.
Who knows what weather the runners will be faced with when they take to the track on Saturday night. For the third grand prix in a row we had rain during Friday practice and if it rains during qualifying it will be, yep, you guessed it, three consecutive wet qualifying sessions in a row. When was the last time that that happened? And to think, up until 2006 there hadn’t been a wet race in Hungary since it first joined the F1 calendar in ’86.
But even if the weather is dodgy, one thing you can always rely on in Hungary is a noisy, passionate crowd. Just ask the drivers: McLaren star Lewis Hamilton touched down in Budapest to find a large crowd of placard-carrying supporters waiting for him. One of them even handed him some of his favourite Haribo sweets. “Superman’s weakness was kryptonite,” said Hamilton. “Mine is these sweets.”
The madness didn’t stop there because Lewis needed a police escort to make it back to his hotel on Friday night. Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso made it back to his hotel without problem, but he was mobbed by autograph hunters as soon as he stepped out of his car. Ditto Mercedes AMG Petronas drivers Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. But the drivers caught most unaware were Williams F1 team-mates Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna, who were interviewed by Sky TV in the park next to their hotel. When they were spotted by fans, the interview was temporarily suspended…
Friday night is often a late one for drivers and engineers as engineering meetings in the paddock tend to run on and on. But while everyone is keen to find that elusive set-up advantage, on Friday evening they were just as keen to get back to their hotels to take in the events happening in London. If the grand prix on Sunday is even half as spectacular as the ceremony, we’re in for a real treat.