McLaren driver Jenson Button came to Budapest on Tuesday to show what it’s like to do 150 MPH on a downtown avenue. What must be a PR burden for a modern F1 driver is an aural delight for an entire city, sweltering in the early spring heat. The McLaren was loud in a rather cosmic way.
These things happen because Formula One is financed by big companies and big companies—British telecom Vodafone in McLaren’s case—are not always content with having their logos slathered all over racing cars which grace hundreds of millions of television screens every other Sunday. Sometimes, they demand more of the fabulously talented and lucky young men who get paid fabulous amounts of money to race fabulously fast experimental machinery. Sometimes, these men have to suit up between races and entertain the masses.
Budapest was the scene of Jenson Button’s crafty win last summer on an uncharacteristically wet and chilly Hungaroring. His return to the city, nine months later, coincided with conditions typical for Hungarian Grands Prix but very atypical for spring in Budapest: dry, 90-degree heat. This time, he raced not in the dust bowl 20 miles from town, where the Hungaroring is, but on Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út, an avenue which cuts a diagonal across downtown Budapest.