Strange to think that the Hungarian Grand Prix, which still has the air of the relative newcomer to the Formula 1 World Championship, is now one of the longest-serving venues on the calendar.
Of the 19 countries on the 2010 schedule, only six of them are on a continuous run of staging world championship races for longer than the former Eastern Bloc country. The event's history even stretches back to the pre-war years, with Tazio Nuvolari taking one of his famous against-the-odds victories, beating the might of Auto Union and Mercedes-Benz behind the wheel of a Ferrari-run Alfa Romeo.
When the race was held for the second time, a mere half-century later, the world had changed - and the relatively tight and twisty Nepliget Park had been replaced by the very tight and twisty Hungaroring. Overtaking is close to impossible, although it has been known into the first corner, and with Ferrari likely to be victory contenders again it begs the question of what might happen should the Scuderia's two drivers finds themselves the "wrong" way round on race day.
It's not out of the question. After all, Massa has form at the Hungaroring after only being denied a famous win in 2008, following a stunning first corner pass on Lewis Hamilton, by an engine failure. With the stewards finding Ferrari guilty of a breach of the slightly vague ban on team orders at Hockenheim, it could be an intriguing race - especially with the fact that allocation of the super soft and medium tyre compounds should allow Massa to have one of his better weekends.
Unsurprisingly, team orders were the talk of the paddock on Thursday. Although Ferrari's implementation of the swap could have been a little more subtle, it's tough to find another team in the paddock that hasn't, to use the terms of article 39.1, done something that could possibly be interpreted as "team orders which interfere with a race result".
Opinion is split between those who think team orders should be driven out of the sport on the horse that they rode in on, and those who believe that a more zealous application of the ban will lead to further subterfuge on the part of the teams. But that's an argument for another day. As is the argument about whether it was the directness by which Ferrari swapped its two drivers, rather than the fact that it did, that is the real problem.
At least one person understands... © LAT
When Massa wasn't reflecting on his near win in the Thursday afternoon press conference, which was most of the time, he was being barraged with questions either about his near-death experience in 2009 or what happened at Hockenheim. That he seemed more comfortable talking about that terrible Saturday just over a year ago tells you everything you need to know about his mindset post-German Grand Prix.
He had no alternative but to dead-bat the questions. Below is an abridged version of what he had to say in response to his inquisitors:
"We need to look forward and think about this weekend... it makes me even stronger... I will always do anything for my country... there's no real point in going back to last weekend... I will fight for victory here... we know how important it is to work for the team... I want the best for the team... I'm a professional... the time when I say I am number two driver I will not race anymore... all of you are trying to put words in my mouth..."
In other words, he was in almost as uncomfortable position as he was at Hockenheim when he had to show that he did, indeed, understand the information that he was being given by losing the lead. It's no surprise that recalling last year's crash was something of a relief amidst all of that.
Against the backdrop, there is a grand prix weekend to be getting on with. And one in which Ferrari has a very good chance of excelling. The Ferrari F10 is arguably at its best in the slower stuff - although Red Bull, which is enjoying flying a little under the radar when it comes to the latest team controversies, was very quick in the final sector at Hockenheim.
But if Alonso can repeat his Germany win - ideally for the sport by leading from the front - you could make a strong case for Ferrari's actions at Hockenheim being correct from a team point of view. Whether it is right from a sporting point of view is another question - a question that F1 is going to have to do some serious soul-searching over should Ferrari find itself summoned to explain itself to the FIA World Motor Sport Council.
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