Latest News / Feature

Paddock Postcard from Hungary

27 Jul 2014

With just a week between the German and Hungarian rounds, you’d think there would be little time for those in the F1 paddock to get themselves into any mischief. Mercedes, however, found a way, when what was supposed to be a ‘team building’ exercise turned into anything but.

Members of the team - though not the drivers - were on a group cycle ride along Vienna’s River Danube in Austria, when a chain-reaction accident - “a bit of carambolage” as Mercedes dubbed it - left Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, and Paddy Lowe, the team’s technical executive director, with injuries.

Lowe escaped with cuts and bruises, but Wolff was admitted to hospital overnight for treatment to a broken wrist, elbow, shoulder and collarbone. In true F1 spirit, however, he was not going to let it stop him attending the Budapest race.

"We've decided to leave it to the pros now," joked Wolff. "Lewis (Hamilton) and Nico (Rosberg) are better wheel to wheel at 300 km/h than we are at 30 km/h!"

At Red Bull, the extra-curricular activities proved rather less hazardous as footballing fever continued following the recent world cup. Both Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo took the chance to show off their soccer skills and pick up some tips at a visit from Red Bull Street Style footballer, Hungarian Kitti Szasz.

Meanwhile, as former F1 racers Alexander Wurz and Zsolt Baumgartner - the only Hungarian to have started a Grand Prix - visited the paddock, the weekend was further enlivened by some great racing in the support events.

In Saturday’s GP2 race, series contenders Felipe Nasr and Jolyon Palmer had a mighty initial battle for the lead, but lost out badly due to circumstances during an early safety-car period which turned the wheel of fortune in favour of Campos Racing’s Arthur Pic who thus took his first win in the category.

As Palmer and Nasr started on the medium tyre Pic was the highest qualifier on the softs, and he got what amounted to a free pit stop to switch to the mediums under the safety car when team mate Kimiya Sato collided with Palmer’s DAMS partner Stephane Richelmi, who then hit a tyre wall hard.

Carlin’s Nasr was narrowly fending off Palmer who had taken second place from Caterham’s Tom Dillman on the opening lap, but inevitably they had to pit early to ensure that they didn’t leave themselves too many laps to get to the finish on the soft compound tyres. When they did change their early advantage had been neutralised, and they dropped well down the order and had to fight back up on fresher rubber as Pic inherited the lead from Racing Engineering’s Stefano Coletti and Rapax’s Adrian Quaife-Hobbs.

Later, a big accident between Lazarus’s Nathanael Berthon and Trident’s Sergio Canamasas in Turn 2 stymied the duelling Palmer and Nasr as the safety car was deployed again. They had swapped places several times before Palmer got ahead for good in traffic in Turn 1 just before the accident.

In the end Palmer increased his points lead by taking fifth behind the jubilant Pic, Coletti, Quaife-Hobbs and ART’s Takuya Izawa, while Nasr took seventh after being unable to find the way past Hilmer’s Daniel Abt that Palmer had.

It was a tough race for Racing Engineering. Raffaele Marciello was on course to win as he was running ahead of Pic on a similar strategy when he was penalised for speeding in the pit lane. He recovered after a drive-through penalty to take eighth and pole for Sunday’s race, but later both he and Coletti received post-race penalties which dropped them to the back of the grid.

Thus the final order read: Pic, Quaife-Hobbs, Izawa, Palmer, Abt, Nasr, Stoffel Vandoorne (ART) and Berthon. Dillman was ninth ahead of MP’s Marco Sorensen, and recent winner Mitch Evans was 12th for Russian Time.

Vandoorne then collected victory, his second of the season, in Sunday morning's race.

The 22-year-old made the most of a front row start to out-drag polesitter Nathanael Berthon on the run down to Turn 1, and led thereafter.

Nasr followed Vandoorne's move on Berthon to snatch second, but lost the position to title rival Palmer on lap seven - the Briton having fought back from a slightly tardy start to pick off Pic, Abt, Berthon and then the Brazilian in quick succession. Palmer closed on Vandoorne, but faded as his tyres went off in the closing stages.

That allowed Nasr, aggrieved by Palmer's earlier robust pass, to close back in, with the pair finishing less than one second apart at the flag. Berthon, Abt and Pic rounded out the top six.

As a result Palmer now leads Nasr by 43 points - 192 to 149 respectively - with Vandoorne third on 109.

For more pictures from Hungary, check out our Paddock Postcard gallery.