F1 Business Diary 2016: the Hungarian Grand Prix

The drivers' championship swung in Lewis Hamilton's favour at the Hungarian GP.

This weekend marked the 30th anniversary of the first race in the modern era at the Hungaroring. Only Formula One staples Monaco and Monza have hosted more consecutive races than the Budapest circuit, and one man who will certainly be hoping for the track to remain on the calendar for years to come is Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

Not only did the defending world champion win his fifth Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend, taking the all-time record for the most victories at the Hungaroring, but he also edged in front of rival and teammate Nico Rosberg in the driver's championship for the first time this season, confirming the change in momentum witnessed over the past few weeks.

Despite this, what should have been a celebratory edition of the race ended up with more than a few drivers and teams asking questions of officials thanks to – what else? – some controversial rule changes and decisions.

Complete bull…

Not for the first time this season, the FIA issued fresh rules surrounding radio usage just days ahead of a race, causing further confusion and attracting yet more criticism.

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel offered the harshest words, calling the regulations stipulating that drivers can only recieve instructions from their teams while in the pits “complete bullshit”.

With drivers expected to operate the hundreds of different switch settings on their cars without radio support, Vettel called for a return to simpler times.

“There’s a lot of boring stuff on the radio that got banned, I don’t see the point,” said the Ferrari man.

“Let’s go back to V12s, manual gearbox, just two buttons, one for pit speed limiter and one for radio and just confirm that we’re coming in.”

…and a complete joke

Vettel's Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen, meanwhile, was railing against the enforcement – or lack thereof – of another rule this weekend.

The veteran Finn found himself in sixth place for much of the race, where he finished, stuck behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen, and was unhappy with with some of the Dutchman's defensive tactics.

“It's pointless to have rules if they don't apply all the time, for all the people,” the 2007 world champion said, after clipping the Red Bull car due to what he saw as an illegal manoeuvre from Verstappen. “In many ways, it's a complete joke with the rules, you know?”

Raikonnen felt that his rival was in breach of article 27.6 of the sporting regulations states that more than one change of direction to defend a position is not allowed.

Sauber acquisition

The race was also the first since the acquisition of Sauber by Swiss investment company Longbow Finance SA. As reported by SportsPro last week, the deal secures the long-term future of Sauber in Formula One, which had come under question in recent months.

A lack of resources throughout the off-season and into the 2016 campaign has led to stalled development on the team's C35 car, with the team yet to pick up a point this year, something which the news of the acquisition did nothing to change, with both Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson finishing some distance off the top ten.

Forza Monza

After months of uncertainty, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza looks likely to retain its place on the Formula One calendar after the Automobile Club d'Italia (ACI), the sport's governing body in the country, claimed that the political and operational issues which were causing the impasse had been resolved.

According to reports, the regional government of Lombardy has stepped into provide an extra €5 million (US$5.5 million) a year in funding to secure the Grand Prix. The ACI is now set to put an offer to Formula One Management (FOM) more in line with the body's demands.

FOM chief executive Bernie Ecclestone had previously claimed that a deal was in place with the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit Imola, which has previously held the San Marino Grand Prix, to replace Monza. Sticchi Damiani, the president of the ACI, however, has a strong preference for the Italian Grand Prix to remain at its current home, and had refused to sign off on any move to Imola.

The stand-off had led Ecclestone to suggest that, if Monza could not raise the funds to pay the amount expected by FOM, there would be no Italian Grand Prix, but the latest news suggests that Damiani's waiting game has paid off.

Halo vote

A vote is due this Thursday, 28th July, on the introduction of the new 'Halo' cockpit protection from the start of next season.

The proposal would see a protective shield installed around the cockpits to better protect drivers' heads, with the FIA claiming the system will improve survival rates by up to 17 per cent.

The already long-running saga, however, is set to run on even further, with sources reporting that rights holders and several teams will vote for a delay on the implementation of the system by at least a year.

Toro Rosso driver Daniil Kvyat has expressed doubts of his own over Halos, stating that “I don't know if we are going too far.

“I may be tempting fate, but I have often said that, coming to the track, I am aware that this could be my last day at work,” said the Russian.

“It seems that now that feeling is dulled. I'm not acting like a hero, but after all, we are in the race for the fans and for Formula One – it is also a show. That is why it is so popular.”


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