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Paddock Postcard from the Hungaroring 31 Jul 2011

Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Lotus Renault GP at the charity football match.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Preparations, Budapest, Hungary, Wednesday, 27 July 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari celebrates his 30th birthday with the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Budapest, Hungary, Friday, 29 July 2011 Jenson Button 200th GP Celebration.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 30 July 2011 Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren at the Jenson Button 200th GP Celebration.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 30 July 2011 Race winner Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Lotus ART celebrates on the podium. GP3 Series, Rd 6, Race 1, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday 30 July 2011. The start of the race. GP2 Series, Rd 7, Race 2, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday 31 July 2011.

With barely enough time to move cars and personnel to Budapest following last weekend’s German round, let alone arrange any pre-race activities, you would have thought the teams’ extra-curricular outings would be minimal in Hungary, but they have still managed to squeeze a few in.

Some of the drivers were busy competing at a charity football match on Wednesday night. The Hungarian All-Star event was held at the Ujpest Megyeri ut Stadium in the heart of Budapest, with HRT’s Vitantonio Liuzzi, Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, Sauber’s Sergio Perez, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, Virgin Jerome D’Ambrosio all taking to the pitch.

There were plenty of celebrations up and down the pit lane as well. Bernie Ecclestone led the partying on Thursday evening to mark Fernando Alonso turning 30 on Friday, and on Saturday night McLaren’s motorhome was jammed packed as the great and the good of the F1 fraternity helped Jenson Button to celebrate his 200th Grand Prix.

On top of that, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg will be taking to the track for his 100th Grand Prix this weekend and it’s also the centenary of the 2.4 litre V8 engine, which was introduced in 2006. Toro Rosso were also celebrating their 100th Grand Prix start.

On track, Romain Grosjean moved ever closer to the GP2 Series title with another measured drive to victory on Saturday for DAMS after starting from fifth place. The Frenchman was helped when early leader Marcus Ericsson, who had made a blinding start to take the lead from polesitter Luiz Razia, was penalised for an unsafe release during his pit stop. The iSport driver had to be content with fifth place as fourth fastest Charles Pic made up for his recent misfortunes with a strong run to second for Barwa Addax ahead of Caterham Team AirAsia’s Razia.

Sunday’s race was run in changeable conditions and saw Trident’s Stefano Coletti come from 21st on the grid to win after bravely starting on slicks. Grosjean and Sauber’s F1 reserve Esteban Gutierrez scrapped it out for second over the closing laps, with the Mexican taking the place at the final corner.

In GP3, series leader Mitch Evans collided with ART’s James Calado on the opening lap of Saturday’s race, as they battled for third place, leaving Calado’s team mate Valtteri Bottas to take another victory from Michael Christensen (RSC Mucke Motorsport) and Britons Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (Marussia Manor Racing) and Alexander Sims (Status GP). Nico Muller was fifth for Jenzer Motorsport as Aaro Vainio just held off Evans’s team mate Lewis Williamson. The young Scot had a bad qualifying in 15th but moved to seventh by the second corner. But, such is the nature of the Hungaroring that he then stayed there for the entire distance thereafter.

Sunday morning’s GP3 contest saw Rio Haryanto take advantage of a late safety car to grab victory in wet conditions from the ART duo of series leader Bottas and Calado, the latter charging his way from 25th on the grid to secure a spectacular podium.

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