Hamilton takes surprise Hungaroring victory


Whatever the this afternoon might produce in terms of excitement, the event will be overshadowed by yesterday's incident involving Felipe Massa, itself coming one week after the F2 accident at Brands Hatch in which Henry Surtees perished.

While we moan about circuits such as the Hungaroring and the tedium of some of the races, we must never lose sight of the fact that motor racing is - and always will be - dangerous, just as it says on the ticket.

In addition to Felipe making a full recovery, we can only hope that the sport learns from these wake up calls, much like it did in the wake of Imola 1994.

As for today's race, well, after the confusion if yesterday afternoon, when nobody appeared to have a clue who was where on the grid courtesy of the failure of the timing systems, we now know that it was Fernando Alonso who posted the quickest time, albeit on fumes.

In terms of fuel loads there is little to pick and choose with the other drivers at the front of the grid, Vettel, Webber, Hamilton, Kovalainen and Raikkonen all covered by 5kg.

Hamilton, in particular, is sure to make full use of his KERS at the start of the race, though he will be hoping that there isn't a repeat of what happened in Germany, however, keep an eye out for Kovalainen also who has been looking good all weekend.

While we don't expect the McLaren drivers to be standing atop the podium this afternoon we do expect them to leave here with a decent amount of points, such is the progress the Woking team has made.

Red Bull have to be favourites today, and while Webber has had the edge for much of the weekend, Vettel looked pretty impressive in qualifying. Therefore, we have a feeling that the Austrian outfit will be heading off on its summer hols with another 18 points in the bag later today.

Fumes or no fumes, Fernando Alonso has looked sharp this weekend, and therefore we expect to see him add to his tally, as we do Rosberg, and maybe even Raikkonen, if he can take his mind off the 1000 Lakes Rally and WRC.

We haven't mentioned Brawn because we feel that the Brackley outfit is losing touch with Red Bull, and possibly McLaren, largely the result of the fact that the coffers are empty. Button hasn't looked confident this weekend, while Barrichello is sure to have part of his attention focussed on his fellow-Brazilian, Felipe Massa.

That said, much will depend on what happens at the first corner, if Hamilton, or Kovalainen, can get ahead of the Red Bulls it could well play into Button's hands, providing he too can make a great start, for as we know from experience here whoever is in front has the upper hand.

As ever, tyre management will be key, and therefore, bearing in mind what we've seen over the weekend thus far, don't entirely rule out Alonso, who, unlike the rest of the guys at the front is going for a three stop strategy.

As for the rest, one should never rule out Toyota from taking a point or two, even though Glock has appeared to go off the boil in the last couple of races. Also, now that Toro Rosso has its upgrades, so keep an eye on Sebastien Buemi and new boy Alguersuari, who would dearly love to prove the sceptics wrong and finish his debut Grand Prix.

With speculation that he is to lose his drive at fever pitch, perhaps Nelson Piquet can pull something out of the hat and rescue his career today, while at Williams Kazuki Nakajima also need to open his 2009 points account.

BMW will be hoping for a miracle this afternoon as will Force India, both teams no doubt keen to leave Hungary as soon as possible after what has been a fruitless weekend thus far.

With fifteen minutes before the field heads off on the parade lap, the air temperature is 24 degrees C, while the track temperature is 41 degrees. It is bright, though there is quite a bit of cloud. Furthermore, it is not quite as windy as yesterday.

Tyre options are soft and super-soft, which we will refer to as hard (soft) and soft (super-soft). The soft (super-soft) has thus far proved not only to be quicker (natch!) but more durable than expected.

As the Hungarian national anthem is played, Rob Smedley assemble with members of Massa's crew by the side of the track, they display a pit board which reads ' Forza Felipe, we're with you!".

As they head off on the parade lap, the majority are on the softs (super-softs), certainly at the sharp end of the grid, the only exception being Vettel who is on the harder compound.

They're away, and Alonso leads in the first corner, however, there's a little argy behind as Raikkonen, Vettel and Hamilton fight for position. The German losing out badly, as do the Brawns. Indeed, Vettel complains of possible front wing damage.

At the end of lap 1, Alonso leads Webber, Hamilton, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Kovalainen and Vettel, as Button passes Nakajima for eighth. Sutil pits.

Out front, Alonso is setting a blistering pace, having already pulled out a 1.8s lead. Hamilton is all over Webber as Vettel hounds Kovalainen.

As Sutil's car is pushed into the garage, Kovalainen goes quickest in the first sector as he attempts to close on Rosberg and hold off Vettel.

Into Turn 2 on lap 5 and Hamilton and Webber are side by side. The Englishman holds position into Turn 3 and there is nothing that Webber can do, the McLaren driver making full use of his KERS. Hamilton immediately goes quickest in the third sector.

Button is now 2s down on Vettel and falling into the clutches of Rosberg, while Barrichello has slipped back to sixteenth.

"Hamilton has passed Webber and he's looking quick," Alonso is warned. To prove the point the Englishman posts a new fastest lap (23.218).

As Webber falls 2s behind Hamilton, Raikkonen closes in, the sole Ferrari driver looking good.

Hamilton asks if he needs to short-shift, the response is in the negative. "Just keep doing what you're doing," he is told.

Alonso is beginning to struggle, his right-rear clearly graining. Hamilton closes to within 1.4s of the Renault. At the other end of the field, Alguersuari is running last but only 0.6s down on Fisichella.

On lap 9 Webber goes quickest (23.190) as he closes to within 1.9s of Hamilton but has only a 0.9s advantage over Raikkonen.

The Race Stewards announce that the incident involving Raikkonen will be investigated after the race. They refer to the argy-bargy with Hamilton and Vettel.

At the end of lap 11, Alonso pits. 6.4s later he's heading down the pitlane, rejoining in ninth, just ahead of his teammate. However, there is a problem with his front-right wheel which appear not have been fitted correctly. Indeed, the wheel covers flies off, followed moments later by his entire wheel.

As Hamilton posts a new fastest lap (22.868), Alonso slowly makes his way back to the pits on three wheels. The Spaniard finally gets back to the pits, however, he is already 70s down on the new race leader.

After 14 laps, it's: Hamilton, Webber, Raikkonen, Rosberg, Kovalainen, Vettel, Button, Nakajima, Trulli and Piquet.

Hamilton posts a string of fastest laps, extending his lead over Webber to 4.2s. Meanwhile, Alonso returns to the pits where he is pushed into his garage, his car having apparently sustained damage following his wheel problem.

Button locks up as he attempts to keep Nakajima and Trulli at bay, the Englishman is clearly struggling.

At the end of lap 18, Heidfeld is the second driver to make a regular pit stop. Next time around Webber and Raikkonen both pit. A problem with one of Webber's wheels sees Raikkonen leapfrog the Australian, who almost runs into the side of the Ferrari in his eagerness to hold position. To add to his misery, the Red Bull driver is passed by Glock. That said, the Nurburgring winner soon re-takes the position.

Hamilton and Rosberg both pit at the end of lap 20, handing the lead to Kovalainen.

Kovalainen and Vettel both pit at the end of lap 21, as does Kubica. Thereby handing the lead back to Hamilton who now heads Button, Nakajima, Trulli and Piquet. It was another poor stop for the Milton Keynes team.

Nakajima pits at the end of lap 22, as Button holds second, 2.8s behind the race leader. However, as Hamilton is advised by his crew, the real battle is with Raikkonen and Webber who are 8 and 12s behind. Piquet pits at the end of lap 23, rejoining the race alongside Nakajima and immediately getting involved in a cat-fight.

As he enters the pits at the end of lap 25, Button is asked what tyres he wants, prime or option. He stays on the super-softs rejoining in twelfth behind Fisichella, who is 1.6s behind Barrichello.

Buemi pits at the end of lap 26, promoting his Spanish teammate to twelfth.

"Something is broken, something is broken," Vettel shouts to his crew, "I can't control the car anymore!" The German, who is now losing 2s a lap, heads back to the pits. A new nose and tyres are fitted as the crew checks the front and rear suspension on the car.

Second-placed Trulli pits at the end of lap 28, thereby moving Raikkonen up to second, ahead of Glock - who has yet to stop - Webber, Kovalainen and Rosberg. Elsewhere, Alguersuari makes his first Grand Prix pit stop.

Fisichella pits at the end of lap 29, leaving Glock and Barrichello as the only drivers yet to stop.

Vettel, now down in last, returns to the pits, where he is pushed into his garage, his race over.

Button complains of dreadful oversteer as he falls 4s behind Trulli. Elsewhere, Webber is under intense pressure from Kovalainen.

Glock pits at the end of lap 32, rejoining in seventh behind Barrichello, who still has to stop. That said, the Brazilian finally dives into the pits at the end of lap 3, rejoining in thirteenth behind the BMW duo.

While Webber is informed of Raikkonen's progress, the Australian's mirrors are full of another Finn, Heikki Kovalainen.

At half-time, it's Hamilton 6.6s clear of Raikkonen, who leads Webber by 12s. Kovalainen is fourth, 0.8s down on the Australian, ahead of Rosberg, Glock, Trulli, Button, Piquet and Nakajima.

As Hamilton dips into the 1:22s again, and Raikkonen posts a personal pace, the Englishman is told that his pace is "good". Next time around, the Finn goes quickest in the second sector, closing to within 6.8s of the McLaren. Elsewhere, Buemi spins at Turn 2, consequently dropping to last position. He subsequently heads back to the pits.

After making a slight mistake, Raikkonen responds, the Finn looking really fired up. It's been a long time coming but it's so good to see.

Webber still under enormous pressure from Kovalainen, who now has Rosberg closing in. Elsewhere, Piquet and Nakajima are fighting for ninth, both knowing that their careers could rest on the outcome. All that separates them for a points finish - at this stage in the race - being Jenson Button.

On lap 43, Hamilton goes quickest in the first sector, extending his lead to 7.4s. The McLaren crew appear to be preparing for a stop, however, the Englishman drives straight past and it is his Finnish teammate who dives in for fresh hard rubber.

Another quick first sector for Hamilton, as Raikkonen makes his second stop. The Finn also takes on hard rubber, and despite a slight glitch rejoins in fourth, 10.9s down on Rosberg.

At the end of lap 46, Hamilton pits, rejoining 8.3s later ahead of Webber and still leading. The Australian, of course, still has to make his second stop.

Rosberg is now all over Webber, with both due to make their second stops any time now. Raikkonen continues in fourth, 11.7s behind the Williams.

At the end of lap 49, Rosberg pits, as do Piquet and Heidfeld. The Williams driver rejoins in fifth. Meanwhile, Glock is giving Raikkonen a hard time.

Webber pits at the end of lap 50. 7.4s later he rejoins the race ahead of Rosberg, who has Kovalainen 4s behind.

Kubica pits at the end of lap 52, as does Alguersuari, while Piquet pursues twelfth placed Heidfeld. Glock, Trulli, Button, Nakajima and Barrichello still to make their second stops. Glock giving Raikkonen a hard time.

Button makes his second stop at the end of lap 55, the Brawn driver, now on the harder tyre, rejoining in tenth behind his teammate. Next time around Nakajima pits, rejoining in tenth, behind the Brawns.

Glock, Trulli and Barrichello still to stop with 13 laps remaining.

Barrichello pits at the end of lap 58, promoting his teammate into the points. Next time around, Trulli pits.

After 59 laps, Hamilton leads Raikkonen by 16.9s with Glock hanging on to the back of the Ferrari. Webber is fourth, 7.7s down on the Toyota and 4.3s ahead of Rosberg. Kovalainen holds sixth, ahead of Button, Trulli, Nakajima and Barrichello.

Finally, at the end of lap 60, Glock makes his second stop, rejoining in sixth behind Kovalainen. An excellent drive from the German and good strategy from his team.

Rosberg posts a personal best but drops to 5s behind Webber. Elsewhere, Barrichello is told to up the pressure on Nakajima who is running ninth and just 0.9s behind Trulli, the last of the points runners.

Obviously getting bored, and deciding he needs some fun, Hamilton goes quickest in the first sector, while Webber goes quickest in the second. Indeed, the Australian posts a new fastest lap (21.931) as he closes to within 5s of Raikkonen.

Hamilton begins his final lap, destined for a famous victory, one that most people would have laughed off just a couple of hours ago.

He takes the flag, his first podium finish of the season, he whoops with delight. "Fantastic job Lewis, a flawless drive from start to finish." "Great job," he responds, "we worked so hard for this. This car is so nice to drive".

Behind him, Raikkonen takes second, giving the Finn and his team something to smile about. Webber takes third, six vital points for his world Championship bid and six vital points when it went wrong for the Milton Keynes outfit.

Another excellent drive from Nico Rosberg while Heikki Kovalainen gives McLaren further cause to celebrate.

A great drive from Timo Glock, who must surely be a contender for 'man of the race', while Button, who, despite two hard-earned points, must know that his championship challenge is unravelling. The final point goes to Jarno Trulli, as Toyota, like McLaren, gets both cars into the points.

Not a bad race, and a well deserved win for McLaren and Lewis, as motorsport has something to smile about after a very, very difficult week.

The sport now heads off for a three week break and despite the talk of factories being closed down it will be interesting to see what progress has been made when the circus turns up in Valencia late next month.

In the meantime, our thoughts are with Felipe and his family.

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  • Article from Pitpass (http://www.pitpass.com):

    Published: 26/07/2009
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