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I love Budapest, what a lovely city it is with a delightful church not far from my city hotel. The Hungarian Grand Prix is one of my favourites, I rate it 4th out of the 21 on this year’s calender and today, the first of the 4 days, was a hot one at the track.

With the death of Ferrari boss Sergio Marchionne yesterday, the flags on the team’s motorhome in the paddock were at “half mast”. And most of Ferrari’s personnel wore black armbands as a sign of respect. There is also talk that the car will have a black “armband” of sorts although it wasn’t visible on the car today.

This morning started with driver arrival photographs and all of them came through the same gate which was being staked out by this autograph hunter.  She got the complete set of signatures and selfies. The drivers then passed through a tunnel to the paddock which is lined with the colours of the Hungarian flag, it makes a nice backdrop if you can get them without their minders obscuring the shot..Originally Kimi Raikkonen was scheduled to be in the afternoon press conference however he was excused due to the passing of Sergio Marchionne and these three fronted the media. Estaban Ocan and Carlos Sainz were quizzed about their contract negotiations for next year while Valtteri was his usual polite self; he signed his 2019 contract last week.  Here’s a fine shot of  Carlos Sainz looking happy in his canary yellow team attire.  After the press conference I walked back through the pits and was delighted to see 5 cars (2 Red Bulls, 2 Toro Rossos and a Sauber) neatly parked next to each other which made for a very colourful series of pics. The 4pm – 6pm autograph session was mad. A huge crowd of fanatical punters had waited for some time to see their idols and they were rewarded with every driver climbing the pit entry wall to enter the fenced off area. Lewis stopped at the top of the wall to admire the crowd and wave to his fans. He is the polar opposite of Kimi Raikkonen who just scales the wall in record time, eager to get the commitment done!

And here is a section of the media sitting on the hot tarmac which is the only way to get the sky in the background, a much cleaner looking photo than having other photographers on the other side of the wall in shot. Once the drivers are in the fenced off driver’s area they circulate around the fence appeasing the fans chasing an autograph or selfie. The teenager below was crying hysterically, Beatles-style, after Seb signed her cap. She was a blubbering mess for several minutes after he signed her cap which put a smile on the Ferrari driver’s face. Lewis came across a sign that a girl had hung over the wall.He was alerted to it by his PA.  The trick is, if you want to get a driver’s attention with something like this you need to get the attention of their minder.  The minder has time to talk so if you convince them, they’ll direct their driver to whatever it is you have.  In this instance, Lewis was impressed enough that the youngster scored a hug.

Then it was back to the media centre for a couple of hours of editing and a 25 minute drive back to Hotel Moments in the centre of town.  I rate this in my top 3 hotels on the tour and great value.  At present I’m finishing the blog while seated in the sidewalk restaurant watching an eclectic mix of people pass by.

And here’s a bonus pic from Tuesday when I joined my wife at the Hamburg Maritime Museum for a media day promoting the World’s Oldest Message in a Bottle which Tonya found in January 2018, some 2 hours north of Perth at Wedge Island.  The bottle and note were thrown overboard from a German ship in 1886 and were out of human hands for nearly 132 years.  Read more about it by here.

Oh, and if you’re questioning the feature pic for the blog, that’s one of the most revered (and feared) F1 photographers, Mark Thompson from Getty Images, soaking up the adoration of the gods and fellow photographers at the autograph session today.  He’s exceptional at his game; so he keeps reminding me.

That’s all for now, ok?