2012 Formula One Hungarian Grand Prix Review
When the German Grand Prix concluded last week, I remember mentioning how Lewis Hamilton needs to be serious about what he does. Going by the fine display of circus antics that the McLaren driver put up at the Hockenheimring, I wasn’t joking at all. But if there is anything called repentance and atonement for one’s previous sins, then Lewis did just that here at Budapest today.
Simply put, he was unbeatable. He took Saturday qualifying by storm and ended Fernando Alonso’s streak of consecutive pole positions. He administered a flawless start and kept his cool all too well against pressing competitors till the very last lap. And when he finally crossed the chequered flag, it was a thoroughly deserving moment of glory for the young Briton.
The race may have looked slightly mundane on the outside, with very few overtaking maneuvers and on track-excitement, but scraping the surface will reveal the true intensity of the contest. It was quite evident from the way the cars spaced out, that track position wouldn’t be won by on-track jostling. Instead, it would be better pitstops and better understanding of tyre wear that would win positions and turn tables.
Which is exactly what happened. Hungary saw a hopefully definitive end to McLaren’s long running pit woes. A couple of blistering choreographies on their side was an essential component in Lewis’ success today. We’ve seen how pitstops have ruined races for McLaren in the recent past and it’s good to see them excelling here now.
McLaren may have been the winning team, but all eyes around the Hungaroring were on the two Lotuses of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, specially in the latter half of the grand prix. Grosjean had set a very good P2 time during qualifying and he maintained the pressure on Lewis throughout most of the race – attempting to pass him with the occasional DRS; but he never quite succeeded. Instead, in what was quite easily the golden moment of the day, his team mate, Kimi Raikkonen pulled off an absolutely stunning late pit stop strategy and took Romain at the pit lane exit and turn one – thus giving all fans all the on-track excitement that the day had to offer.
Consequently, Kimi sailed into second place and turned his attention on Lewis. Incidentally, the Iceman, did chew seconds off Lewis’ lap times on his fresh set of tyres, but despite coming within a second of the McLaren, he couldn’t quite get the pace to pass him. A few more laps, and we might have seen Kimi on the top of the podium, but in the given format, that wasn’t to be, and in the end, a mere second separated the two as they went past the chequered flag.
For Red Bull, the race was a mixed bag of sorts. Sebastian Vettel was surprisingly lacklustre, save for the very end of the race, when he opted for a fresh set of tyres and set some sparkling lap times in pursuit of Grosjean. Again, a few more laps, and we might have seen a different result, but in the end, he had to be content with P4. For team mate Mark Webber who had a disappointing Saturday the race was half-decent wherein he managed P8 and thus, kept his second position in the driver’s championship. The gap between the Red Bulls however has narrowed down to 2 points only, but on the whole, the team has maintained their convincing lead in the Constructors’ championship – laying testimony to the fact that they have always been among the points this season.
For the current championship leader Fernando Alonso, Hungary would leave him expecting a bit more, considering that he has been the master of the season thus far, and had come to Hungary straight out of two consecutive podium finishes. A P6 in Saturday qualifying to a rather humdrum P5 today means the Spaniard still maintains his lead of 40 points over Webber. A podium here however, would have helped him wrap up the mid-season proceedings with a greater amount of conviction ahead of the month long break that the season has now slunk into.
Michael Schumacher’s ghosts of the past seemed to have chased him around all of Europe and finally descended upon the seven time world champion today at the Hungaroring. Saturday qualifying had been quite lousy for him and team mate Nico Rosberg – P17 and P13 for the two Germans respectively, but that was only a trailer of the disaster that was to follow. Schumacher stalled his car right after the formation lap, which took the race into yet another formation lap and resulted in the German starting the race from the pit lane.
Even then however, he did an early pit to change tyres and was promptly handed a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. The result was a rather humiliated Schumi trailing the rest of the field and fighting the HRTs and Marussias for track position. A forgettable run for the German who later dived into the pitlane and retired on technical grounds.
The only other bit of track incident was provided by Williams’ driver Pastor Maldonado when he bottlenecked Force India’s Paul di Resta, squeezing him out of the track in lap 47 – an act that prompted the stewards to hand him a drive through penalty as well, which eventually brought the Venezuelan down to P13. One might argue that the penalty was harsh, but going by Maldonado’s track record at disrupting other people’s races, this did seem like a good decision from the stewards.
(image credits : IBN Live)
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