After the thrill of seeing one of our drivers on the podium in Germany, seven days later, we had to settle for a single point courtesy of Alex in Hungary. At the risk of repeating ourselves, the midfield battle is very close this year and in Budapest, we didn’t have the pace to top this group.
Both our drivers arrived earlier than usual in Hungary to be part of a film shoot with our sponsor Casio, in the heart of the beautiful city of Budapest. Every team member has a Casio watch to keep track of time at the track, but track time was in short supply on Friday as part of FP1 and most of FP2 was affected by rain. Alex reduced his number of laps further by making a mistake on the final corner, getting a wheel on the wet grass as he went over the kerb and hit the barriers quite hard, which gave the mechanics some extra work. But Alex is in his rookie season and our team principal has always maintained rookies have to crash now and again as they learn to find their limits! It meant he had to get used to his rebuilt car on Saturday morning prior to qualifying.
After plenty of talk in recent months about F1 needing to improve the show, we’d have to say there’s not been much to complain about in the last four races and Hungary featured plenty of excitement, including what everyone wants to see – a duel for first place. Our two drivers produced some thrilling wheel to wheel action as they battled for position. In the end, Daniil’s tyres reached a point where they were offering hardly any grip as he tried everything he knew to pass Perez. But bringing him in to change them in the closing stages would have seen him drop to the very back of the pack. Alex was on a different strategy, which involved a long first stint so that his second set of tyres stayed alive until the end, allowing him to claim a point for tenth.
We had plenty to celebrate a week ago in Germany, including Daniil’s amazing podium, but the fact he became a father just the night before was not really recognised until we arrived in Budapest. To mark the occasion, we presented our Russian driver with a baby romper which looks like a race suit and the obligatory Teddy Bear.
And that’s all you’ll hear from us for a while as it’s time for the Factory Shutdown. What’s that? For several years now, it has been written into the Formula 1 regulations that all teams must stop work for two weeks in August. During that period, any work to do with improving car performance is forbidden, so all work has to cease, with the rule also applying to our outside suppliers. The law was introduced for two reasons: it was seen as a way of maybe reducing costs if there was at least a fortnight in the year when costly car development had to stop, but more importantly, especially given the length of the current calendar, it provides a much-needed opportunity for everyone to get some rest. The shutdown applies to all our staff, but of course, the biggest benefit is for those who travel on the race team, particularly the set-up crews, who spend the most time of any of our team members away from home. So we will be back with you at the end of the month, shortly before the season resumes at the magnificent Spa-Francorchamps circuit for the Belgian Grand Prix.
We go into the summer break lying fifth in the Constructors’ classification. That’s an excellent achievement, but in the next few days before the break and then for the rest of the year, we will have to work very hard to maintain that positive trend. We’re looking forward to the challenge.