Hungary GP – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Pure opinion. None of this is said with any malice, although I’m sure there are some who will take it as such! Enjoy it for what it is, and by all means, let me know your thoughts and opinions as to why I am right or wrong.
Lewis likes Hungary. Hungary likes Lewis. Although Hamilton was clearly beaten for pace on Sunday, it would have been very harsh on him if he had finished anywhere other than top of the pile. An imperious weekend that saw him top the timesheets in two out of the three practice sessions and all three qualifying sessions – only denied a full house by a tenth of a second – ended with Lewis Hamilton celebrating entering the mid season break with his hat firmly in the World Championship ring. The pressure on Hamilton was immense – not only was he fighting to stay in touch with a certain Spaniard and not only was he expected to win due to his performances on the Friday and Saturday, but every time he looked in his rear view mirrors, he will have seen a black and gold monster looming large ready to take advantage of any minor failing in his armoury. But, as Hamilton himself said: “The team didn’t flinch and neither did I.” Quite so Lewis, quite so.
And McLaren fight their way back up to 2nd in the Constructors table to boot. Fight is definitely the right word. To collect as many points as a clearly quicker Lotus team was an effort worthy of acclaim and, whisper it quietly, but a lot of the time that they gained in this race that enabled that to happen was during the pit stops. When McLaren do pit stops well, they do them very very well. Following a very definite downturn in form and pace, the McLaren team appear to have moved in the right direction in the last couple of races… however trying to predict where they will shake out when the season restarts in a months time is a pointless exercise. After all, they have scored more points than Red Bull in 6 out of the 11 races this campaign, but find themselves 53 points in arrears in total.
If Lewis Hamilton is still in the title race, then how about the man who had the faster car, and is only one point behind Hamilton in the standings? Kimi Raikkonen is the great unknown that is worrying the likes of McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari. He has the experience of winning a world title, as well as talent, pace and a car which are all more than capable of producing the goods. Barring the machine at the top of the order, he has amassed more points than any other driver in the last 4 rounds, and has quietly moved his way to just a handful of points behind 2nd place. All this, and he has yet to win a race during his second coming in the sport. We were treated to proof in Hungary that the fire does still burn within the Iceman, as he had the audacity to barge his teammate out of the way whilst exiting the pits – legally and brilliantly I might add – and produced a series of simply stunning laps near the end of his second stint on supposedly old tyres. On any other circuit, Raikkonen yawns past the race leader and off into the distance. Then he might have smiled. Might have.
Because the Lotus promises so much, I had almost promised myself that I wouldn’t put the team in this section until they were celebrating their first win. However, on a weekend where they produced their best qualifying performance, equalled their best race performance, and had the quickest car, it seems unfair to not recognise their efforts. There. Consider them recognised.
There are some drivers that thrive under pressure, and if that pressure is not there, they struggle to perform at the levels that they are capable of. The last few weeks have been filled with speculation around the future of Bruno Senna, but he answered his critics in Hungary with a superb performance. Easily his best qualifying session as he made it into Q3 for the first time, and he followed it up with an excellent performance in the race to finish 7th, ahead of a Red Bull and a Ferrari, way ahead of his teammate, and only 7 seconds behind the World Championship leader.
In the last two races, Red Bull have garnered less points than McLaren, Lotus and the one man band that is Ferrari. The mid season break comes at a better time for some than for others, and in Red Bulls case, the timing is immaculate. Time for the team to take a step back and remember that they still lead the title race comfortably, time for Mark Webber to remember what he was doing in the first nine races, time for Sebastian Vettel to calm down, and time for Adrian Newey to think up another loophole in the FIAs rules.
As much as Sauber are looking at Mercedes being only 26 points ahead of them, they would do well to bear in mind that an improving Williams is only 27 points behind. Sauber had a terrific race weekend in Germany, but followed that up with a Hungarian nightmare. Qualifying 14th and 15th is simply not good enough for a team with Saubers pace, and finishing 14th and 18th is even worse. As is the buzzword for this season, consistency would pay handsome dividends for the Sauber team, but what level of consistency would they find? Would it be the team that has scored 10 points or more in 5 races this season, or the team that has scored 2 or less in the other 6?
Another poor showing from Mercedes, and their only saving grace was that Sauber also had a bad weekend. Even Ross Brawn was uncharacteristically downbeat.
Paul Di Resta
Another one that the mid season break is timed perfectly for. Di Resta has been outperformed by his teammate in each of the last 4 races, and outqualified in 3 of those. It has not been a wonderful couple of months for the Scotsman, and he needs to arrest the decline. Coupled with the news that his former manager will be taking him to court over his dismissal, the break gives Di Resta a chance to straighten everything out and begin again in 4 weeks time with a clear, uncluttered mind.
Hungaroring in the dry
Not even the twin threat of Pirelli and DRS could manufacture some overtaking. It’s a real shame that it is so difficult to pass in Hungary, because it has to be said, it is a wonderful circuit to look at and, by all accounts, the atmosphere is always immense and the locals the perfect hosts.
Who the hell did Michael Schumacher annoy so badly to be anointed with a weekend like that? Firstly on Saturday, a Maldonado sparked dustcloud ruined his final lap in Q2 meaning he only managed to qualify in 17th place. However it was on Sunday that the fun and games really started. Following the formation lap, Michael not only managed to stop in the wrong grid slot, causing the formation lap to be run again, but also turned his engine off meaning he had to start from the pit lane. He then proceeded to pick up a puncture meaning he had to pit straight away, before then being slapped with a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. He then rounded it all off nicely by limping into retirement almost unnoticed towards the end of the race. There genuinely isn’t anything I can think of to say.
Dear, dear me. Normally if anyone speaks to their colleagues the way Vettel spoke to his engineer Rocky, there are consequences. You will have all either heard the exchanges or certainly seen them in print, but let’s go through them again. Firstly, we head Vettel say through gritted teeth: “I can go much faster than him. So do something.” He then followed this up by saying “Try something then! Try something!” in his best petulant, I’m-going-to-stamp-my-foot-in-a-minute voice. Rocky showed immense patience to just reply “There are cars behind Sebastian, we can’t just do anything”, whereas my reply would have been something along the lines of “Well if you’re that much quicker princess, then how about trying the old fashioned method and bloody well overtake him”.
Not a good weekend for KK. And after his wonderful 4th position in Germany had threatened to herald the start of the inter-team battle we had all hoped for. I’m not really sure whats worse – finishing 4 places behind your teammate, or the fact that the three places inbetween were filled with two Toro Rossos and a Caterham.
Maldonado will continue to be in this section until he learns to drive a whole weekend withough hitting anyone. I trust that I need not justify this any further.Want to be a guest writer on VitalF1.com?
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