It was a hot and dusty day at the Hungaroring. We’d forgotten what it felt like to be hot at a race track. Today was forecast to be the warmest of the three days, but it’s not going to be chilly at any stage, I don’t think.
There is a fresh feeling around the paddock, the political stuff goes on, but it is behind the scenes now and doesn’t seem to be taking up the bandwidth it was in June.
Rubens Barrichello, who was in a bad mood last time we saw him in Germany, as he thought he had been turned over once again by his team, arrived wearing a Mr Happy T shirt, which made people smile. Rubens had a chat last week with team boss Ross Brawn, but there was no telling off. They’ve moved on. My old mate Ted Kravitz put a real googly of a question to Jenson Button this afternoon at his media briefing, asking if he had been informed by Brawn that he would be their chosen candidate for the championship. Button batted it away confidently, saying that he had not and that he couldn’t really imagine Rubens accepting a situation like that.
Outside the gigantic Red Bull/Toro Rosso timeshare motorhome, new boy Jaime Alguersuari handled himself confidently after his first 82 laps at a Grand Prix weekend. I was interested to hear him say that he was only here because Red Bull sent him a message telling him to turn up and that he didn’t car what he was driving. He’s very composed, but my Spanish colleagues were a little disappointed with his performance in the second session. He’s not putting any pressure on himself for qualifying. I don’t think he’ll mind being slowest tomorrow, he’s more focussed on getting 70 racing laps under his belt on Sunday.
Do you remember that 1990’s song by Divine Comedy which went, “Take the National Express, when your life’s in a mess…” ?
Well it seems that CVC have taken their advice. Fed up with the wrangling with FOTA and the FIA, the money men behind F1 have launched a bid to take over the UK coach and rail company…from the world’ fastest vehicles to some real trundlers.
Actually, as things are turning out, it seems that their $2 billion investment in F1 is pretty safe. The Concorde Agreement has been drawn up and sent out to the members of the FIA World Motor Sport Council prior to signature. All that is holding it up now is the cost reduction agreement between the teams.
Williams, Force India and new team Manor are holding things up a little there and Williams in particular, it seems. They are holding out for some changes to voting majorities and other things. As for the numbers, I’m hearing around £80 million in 2010 and £40 million in 2011. Of course the deal only runs to 2012, so they’ll all be back arguing about share of revenues again in about 18 months time!
Over at Ferrari there are quite a few new parts on the cars and some further changes in the management with aerodynamicist John Iley leaving the team. It has been reported in some places that he was fired but Italian colleagues tell me that in fact the team simply did not renew his contract.
The reason was that there was dissatisfaction with his results. Meanwhile Luca Baldisserri, who was moved off the race team following some strategy and operational mistakes at the start of the season, is still with Ferrari, but has apparently been distanced from the F1 team in recent weeks.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali said today in the press conference that the team is testing some parts for 2010, as there is carry over, particularly on the areodynamics side. My understanding of the plan there is that they will test new parts until the end of the European season. They want to finish third in he championship, and the development they do after Monza will depend on how they are placed at that time.
On the driver market rumour front, Robert Kubica’s name has been linked with Renault, while Fernando Alonso has been sounding out Brawn. Remember that he had extensive talks with Brawn and with Nick Fry about moving to the team this time last season when it was Honda. They made a real play for him and how he must be regretting his decision to stay at Renault.. but he would be looking for a one year deal and the money might be a bit of a problem.
Half of the UK contingent here in Budapest have been without mobile phones today as O2 had a problem which mean no coverage. This affected a lot of the BBC people and Brawn too.
Meanwhile I took this picture in the paddock this afternoon of a Ferrari guest who was standing by the motor home and found herself being photographed. So she started striking a few poses and suddenly there was a mass of photographers there. It was hilarious and very F1.