The views over Budapest from Corvinteto's rooftop bar
Adam Hay-Nicholls, the F1 correspondent for Metro and the editor of GP Week, tells us about his experiences at the Hungarian Grand Prix, ruined pubs, and getting a police escort in his Infiniti FX...
It’s roughly half-time for the 2012 Formula One season and with it comes a welcome Summer break. After five full months on the road, we need a month to recover. Actually, we need a month just to recover from Budapest, but the Infiniti FX’s smooth ride and luxurious cabin helped ease the pain a bit.
Hungary, for me, is a highlight of the year. Monaco is spectacular, but it’s far too popular with the nouveau riche and is sliding down the social scale accordingly. Singapore is also a draw, but it’s very corporate. Budapest is more like being back at university, and the beauty of arriving on the Monday is that your dissertation deadline is still a week away.
One of the outdoor spas for which Budapest is famous
Budapest is very much a 24 hour party city, filled with romkocsma – literally ‘ruin pubs’. These distressed spaces usually comprise a couple of tumbling buildings, a courtyard, and some kitsch decoration.
There are too many good bars, clubs and restaurants to mention in Budapest, but these were the highlights of the week: Szimpla Kert, where you can smoke shisha while sat in a Trabant – this is the original ‘ruin pub’; Corvinteto, a psychedelic rooftop space above a Spar shop; and Fogashaz, a colourful beer garden dubbed a ‘cultural reception space’ – they also have table tennis.
The Infiniti FX greeting Adam upon his arrival at the airport in Budapest
With the race done and dusted, the teams and drivers left the circuit – the VIPs getting their own police escort. Red Bull boss Christian Horner and technical guru Adrian Newey piled into a pair of Infinitis outside of the paddock gates. Seeing an opportunity to beat the traffic, I lined our blue FX behind them and got the speediest ride into town yet.
With F1 now officially on holiday, Sunday night was always going to be a good one. The Infiniti guests went to a club called Symbol, where the official afterparty took place, where Fernando Alonso celebrated his 31st birthday, and where former F1 drivers Sakon Yamamoto and Jaime Alguersuari have secured a second career behind the DJ decks.
Come the ride back to the airport on Monday, the Infiniti’s comforting cruise was welcome once again. I shall now go into hibernation for four weeks.