This is my first time to Budapest and the city is impressive. The F1 track is only 20 minutes from the city which is a plus because in large cities like this, there is a plethora of quality accommodation options which means we’re not paying 4 times the normal rate.
I was going to stay at the Intercontinental on the Danube but decided to stay at Hotel Moments, saving money and getting a far funkier room in a truly glorious boutique property. It’s one of the best properties I’ve stayed at this season. And have a look at the wallpaper in their restaurant. They’ve gone and attached a number of actual drawers that protrude from the wall. Anyway, I digress.
This year I have been accredited on a race by race basis unlike the seasoned regulars who get an annual pass, good for all races. As such, on the Wednesday or Thursday of a race weekend, I have to collect my media pass from the accreditation centre which is always situated outside of the track. This one is of the no frills variety as you can see below. After collecting my pass it was time to check in to the media centre which is, well, very basic. It reminds me of my old primary school but you can actually see the second last turn from your workdesk so it’s not all bad.All of the drivers arrived by car today, except for Sebastian Vettel who rolled up on a motorbike. A short time later, a number of drivers walked the track and it’s typically the same group of drivers each race. I have never seen Kimi, Max, Daniel, Valtteri or Lewis do a trackwalk though.
The facilities at the track are certainly looking a little tired but thankfully the F1 transporters and lavish hospitality suites certainly lift the place. What I do like about the track is there is little wire fencing above the armco and there are lots of trees lining the circuit which makes for nice pics.
The Thursday press conferences (there were 2) involved 4 drivers for each. Here was a lighthearted moment with 3/4s of this group having a laugh. And in the other conference we were treated to a very jovial Sebastian Vettel who smiled more than I can remember. He even used the phrase, “When the shit hits the fan.” which brought a smile to my face. He joked with Hulkenberg and Alonso throughout the press conference and was most chatty and honest. Poor Marcus Ericcson got very little airtime.At the end of the day the starting straight and the pit lane were invaded by thousands of 3-day ticket holders who got to walk pit lane and line up for autographs. Some dress up. Others joined the throng hoping to get an autograph from their favourite driver. It got a bit crazy at one stage resulting in several youngsters getting crushed against the barriers and having to be extracted from the crowd in tears. No permanent damage though.
Daniel Ricciardo came out in shorts and colourful socks and was a favourite with the crowd. The crowd chanted Kimi Raikkonen’s name in a most entertaining fashion but I’m pretty sure Kimi didn’t break his serious poker face. Other drivers came and went. I purposefully put Sebastian Vettel in the bottom corner of the featured image and shot from below him so the rich blue sky filled the background. It pleased me. And then there was Lewis Hamilton who once again whipped the crowd into a frenzy. I do like his bling, it’s bold and blingy and the crowd love him. Thursdays are always about the drivers out of cars, but tomorrow we’ll see them in their cars and taking on the shortish track in two x 90 minute sessions.
Now, it’s off to find out what Budapestians do at night in this delightful city.