For the second year in a row, the Hungarian Grand Prix was won by a British driver. This weekend could not have been more different to Jenson Button’s maiden win in 2006 though.
The entire weekend was completely focused on McLaren. From the outset, it was looking as though they were going to put up a good fight against the recent resurgence of Ferrari. Despite the slow burning espionage saga that continues to rumble along with no end in sight, the on-track rivalry between McLaren and Ferrari is making this an absolutely stellar season.
During Free Practice, it was any of the four drivers topping the timesheets, and qualifying was definitely not to be missed. Who could have predicted though, just what an event it would be? The team and the individual tactics demonstrated by Alonso, Hamilton and McLaren will keep everyone talking for months. In fact, it is such a highly debatable issue, that I will dedicate the next post to the subject.
For the purposes of our race review, we will just say that Alonso qualified on pole, after a rather questionable tactic of holding up Hamilton in the pit lane and not allowing him enough time to complete one more flying lap. Hamilton was 2nd, with Raikkonen down in 4th behind the BMW of Heidfeld. Massa, in the other Ferrari had suffered some reliability problems and was way down the grid.
The stewards decided to investigate what looked to be some dodgy thinking on Alonso’s part, and later found him guilty of holding up his teammate. They demoted him 5 places on the grid, and for good measure, they declared that McLaren would not be allowed to gain any constructors points from this weekend.
A disappointment for them, but made up for by the fact that Hamilton was promoted to pole position. He managed to maintain the position throughout the race, keeping a disgruntled and bored Raikkonen behind him. Elsewhere, Alonso raced through the field, pulling off two rather stunning and absolutely perfect overtaking manoeuvres, and making his way to 4th position, after starting in 6th. Massa did not have a good race at all.
Last year’s winner, Jenson Button, retired halfway through the race, and unable to cross the track, had to sit the remainder of the session out on the grass, watching his friends continue their way to the chequered flag. His teammate Barrichello compounded Hondas misery by finishing completely last, even behind a Spyker.
For everyone else it was a race dependent on tyres and pit stop strategies – with the super soft tyres graining very easily, and a mixture of choices between two and three stopping. It was not an easy race and I think all the teams will be very glad for the three week break they now have before the next race in Turkey.