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Hungaroring Paddock - Bertrand Piccard 15 Aug 2004

Balloonist Bertrand Piccard at the Hungarian Grand Prix. © Trenkler's

He’s the "king of hot air" who defeated British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, and hard-headed American businessman Steve Fossett in 1999 in an all-out balloon race around the world.

And it seems Swiss-born Bertrand Piccard fancies life in the fast lane on the ground as well as above it. However, he views the sport from a different angle than many other paddock guests.

"Formula One is a laboratory for new technologies, new materials, and it has created a unique kind of people - the winning breed,” he said in Hungary, where he is a guest of the Toyota team. “Bernie has built up a fascinating world of its own. Without him F1 still would be a playground for amateurs and Sunday drivers."

Real Madrid soccer star Roberto Carlos is among the other famous faces seen in the Hungaroring pit lane this weekend. No stranger to the Grand Prix circuit, it is pretty clear where the footballer’s Formula One allegiances lie.

“I always have loved racing and I always loved to come to Formula One race tracks whenever it is possible for me,” said Carlos. “I still love to see the absolute will to win in Michael Schumacher. It is a big inspiration for any person in sports”

Jenson Button probably thought he’d be centre of attention at BAR this weekend given his current contractual dispute, but it is the team’s third driver, Anthony Davidson, who has become the hot topic of pit lane speculation in Hungary.

Davidson is keen to secure to a race seat for 2005 and it seems there is no shortage of teams eager to find out what he has to offer. The British driver is believed to have had talks with Jaguar and Williams, as well as with his current squad. However, it is Swiss team Sauber that is being tipped by pundits as his most likely destination for next season.

More from the Hungaroring paddock as the weekend progresses.