Grapevine: Paddock Life: Hungaroring edition

AUTOSPORT brings you its regular column of life inside the paddock. This week: Hungaroring

Grapevine: Paddock Life: Hungaroring edition

Although the Hungarian Grand Prix marked the last race before Formula 1's enforced summer break, there was no suggestion of it being treated as a relaxing last day of term before the holidays.

With the world championship fight so finely poised, the final push needed on the Concorde Agreement and on-track competitiveness getting more intense with each passing race, it was always going to be a frenzied and intense weekend.

However, no one could have imagined the sad turn of events that resulted in Felipe Massa ending up in hospital with a fractured skull - and the accident left a huge cloud hanging over the paddock.

The whole F1 community had already been in a reflective mood heading into the race following the death of Henry Surtees in the week before Hungary - and it was moving to see rookie Jaime Alguersuari choose to feature 'Ciao Henry' across his crash helmet as he set about dispelling newspaper suggestions he was the most dangerous man in F1.

But the most emotional moments for many about the Massa situation came just before the start of the race, when the Brazilian's pit crew came onto the grid and positioned themselves next to the crash barrier.

Some standing, some sitting, they were there shoulder-to-shoulder, with Massa's race engineer Rob Smedley lost in thoughts - an arm around him from a colleague as he held a pit board that read: 'Forza Felipe, Siamo con te.'

It said it all for how everyone in the paddock felt. Get well soon Felipe, and we hope to see you back as soon as possible.

Robert Kubica may be having a pretty frustrating time on the track at the moment as BMW Sauber's season falls far short of expectation, but that has not stopped him thoroughly enjoying himself away from the F1 world.

In the gap between the German Grand Prix and Hungary, he organised a fun karting event at Lonato in Italy in the 125cc karts that his world championship team is entered in.

Having talked with Timo Glock about the idea of getting some F1 drivers together, the concept finally reached fruition as they were joined by a host of stars including Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa, Vitantonio Liuzzi, and Sebastian Vettel.

"We knew that maybe Michael was coming, so we asked some drivers and they joined us, so we had good fun, a good day of driving," said Kubica.

"Also a bit of competition because once you have drivers, even if it is not an F1 track, but karting, there is always competition. There is always someone who wants to be the fastest but overall I think it was good fun. There were drivers which drove for the first time in karts, so they really saw it is a hard job and it was good fun."

And, perhaps because he has had plenty of free time on his hands to test karts rather than racing in F1, it was not much of a surprise to find out who was quickest.

"Michael was the fastest," said Kubica. "(Vitantonio) Liuzzi was also very good."

It's fair to say that the Formula 1 paddock is getting all-a-Twitter these days, as the social networking site gets more and more followers in the paddock.

Although widely used by drivers and team members in other categories, Nelson Piquet was the first F1 driver to begin actively 'Tweeting' as he gave his fans updates on what he was up to.

And he has proved to be a bit of a trendsetter, with Rubens Barrichello and now Jenson Button joining up for some action.

"I find it good," said Piquet. "I think it is interesting for the fans because it is a bit different to Facebook. Facebook obviously it is more for friends and it is a bit different, but Twitter is for fans who want to follow a celebrity and driver a bit closer.

"They want to know what is going on, they want to see pictures and ask questions. It is good for us to build a relationship with people that don't really know us."

Racing fans on Twitter cannot help but have noticed how the South American contingent of drivers seem to spend their entire lives writing about what they are doing - which if you are Tony Kanaan involves explaining what airport you are at, or if you are Juan Pablo Montoya it is talking about what you are eating.

Piquet thinks that the reason behind that is because he started hassling his friends to join up.

"I started with it and I started bothering them to do it," he said. "I convinced Rubens to do it, and Rubens convinced Jenson to do it, and now we are trying to convince other drivers to do it. We just all got it - and I am sure everyone is going to start getting it soon."

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Former world champion Fernando Alonso may be getting tired of talking about continued speculation about his Ferrari future, but he found himself amid a fresh rumour fest in Hungary last weekend.

With the Tour de France coming to an end last weekend, Alonso's name had been linked with a team entry for next season - although don't imagine for one second that the Spaniard is actually considering taking part himself.

Stories had emerged suggesting that Alonso wanted some of the best riders and team personnel from the sport to join him in an effort that could be bankrolled by Spanish banking giant Santander. And one of the key targets if such a team came off would be 2009 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, who Alonso met in Monte Carlo recently.

But although expressing interest in having a cycling team, Alonso said he would still need to think long and hard about committing himself.

When asked about what he could say about the situation, Alonso said: "Not much at the moment. It is true that I would like to have a team in the near future, but I know the difficulties of it and I know it is not an easy thing to do - and you have to have time.

"It is not 100 percent I will do something, it is something I would like to do but I would like to think a little bit more on that and we will see."

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