Thoughts on the Hungarian Grand Prix

The Hungaroring was never built properly, nowhere near the F1 standards you would see today. The right-left right sequence at the end of the track, for instance, was only put in after the designers (halfway through construction) noticed a natural spring in the way. You would have thought that a track like this would have been thrown off the track years ago. Strangely enough it hasn’t, and despite its overtaking difficulties, the Hungarian Grand Prix was packed with action to keep us talking for the next 4 weeks.

The most important aspect of the race was Sebastian Vettel’s extreme pace, in my opinion. Only last week, the Ferraris and Red Bulls were evenly matched on pace. Now that this track suited them much more, the RB6 is a second a lap faster than the F10, and any other car on the grid. And yet, Vettel failed to transform his pace into a win yet again. Out of 7 pole positions, he has only won one of those races, and that is simply unacceptable for a championship contender.

This again left team-mate Webber to pick up the lead, after many fantastic laps in the Grand Prix to open up a 20-second gap to Alonso. This simply demonstrates how powerful the Red Bull car actually is when it suits the circuit, and not just one driver’s speed.

Then we got to the pit stops. Put simply, the safety car period is becoming more dangerous than safe. The pit lane was crammed with cars on Lap 16, and a crash was inevitable. The fault for the first incident lies at the feet of the Renault lollipop man, who didn’t realise that Sutil, who was charging down the pit lane, was actually going to box right ahead of the Renault. Cue an embarrassing accident, taking Sutil out on the spot.

While Kubica was able to continue, he received a 10-second stop and go penalty, which in my view was a bit pointless. I mean, he was already a lap down, and this was only going to entice them to retire the car early. A fine or constructors’ points penalty would have been fairer, since it was the team who were at fault.

The second incident was much more serious. Nico Rosberg was released while the back right wheel wasn’t secured, and it detached and bounced down the pit lane. It nearly hit the Sauber crew, who were just about to work on Kamui Kobayashi’s car, so they couldn’t stop it. Eventually, a Williams mechanic, Nigel Hope, was hit by the tyre, and has suffered a broken rib and bruising, although he was able to take part in the later pit stops after a quick check-up. I heard that apparently “Big Nige” actually jumped in the way of the tyre to catch it, to stop it hitting anyone else. Brave lad 🙂

Since Nico retired, the stewards were forced to hand Mercedes a $50,000 fine instead of a time or grid penalty. Before the safety car even pitted, the stewards had another incident to investigate, as Sebastian Vettel was too slow on the restart, and held the other drivers up way too much. The rules say that you must be within 10 car lengths of the car ahead, and Sebastian was 22 car lengths away, so unfortunately he has nobody to blame but himself.

The drive-through penalty relating to that incident left Alonso 2nd, and would later hold up Vettel at the end. It was a very good performance from Fernando, considering that the Red Bull behind was much faster. Also, for all the talk about Ferrari favouring Alonso, where was Massa? He was 4th, and never troubled anyone in the race. If he truly wants to compete in the title battle, he needs to step up and actually finish ahead of Alonso, as he hasn’t done so since Turkey.

After Webber’s pit stop sorted out the top 3, focus soon switched to the battle between Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher for 10th. Here’s the problem. Barrichello was Schumacher’s team-mate for 5 years,constantly opening the door for him and allowing him through, or not challenging him for the win. How does Michael repay him? By shoving him into a concrete wall of course. A 10-place grid penalty wasn’t harsh enough, but to be honest, when there isn’t a collision, the stewards must be limited to the penalties they can hand out. But will Michael learn from his penalty? Nope, not really. The only way to make him learn into shove him into a concrete wall at 300km/h himself, but no intelligent driver would actually think of doing that.

But back to the race. Both Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg scored their best career performances to date, getting 5th and 6th respectively. This is absolutely fantastic for them, especially Petrov, as he needs to get consistent points finishes. He has the same amount of points as Kamui Kobayashi now, and I’m struggling to pick which one has been better this year. Kobayashi finished 9th today after starting 23rd on the grid, and made an excellent move on Schumacher at the restart, which unfortunately we didn’t see. Hulkenberg was 6th, and used the harder tyre first to make his way up the field while everyone else pitted at the safety car. While it was a good performance, it is worth pointing out that the strategy wouldn’t have worked if the safety car hadn’t been deployed.

The championship battle is also heating up nicely, as Mark Webber takes the lead in the standings. It is worth pointing out that, while a driver has been in the lead of the championship, none of them have won a race this year. Lewis Hamilton is only 4 points behind, after suffering a transmission problem, while Sebastian Vettel is another 6 points behind. Jenson Button was very poor all weekend in Hungary, and deserves to fall to 4th.

Finally, Sakon Yamamoto was last, again. His fastest lap was an entire 1.2 seconds slower than Bruno Senna’s. Even at the end of the race, when he had a decent set of tyres on and low fuel, his fastest lap was a whole second slower than Adrian Sutil’s, whose fastest lap of the day was set with a 50-lap fuel load on board (he retired on Lap 16).

At the end of the day, the Hungarian Grand Prix was a very interesting one, and much better than the races we have had here in the previous years. We now have a 4-week wait until Belgium, so I have been writing up new articles to keep us interested until then. There should be 1 or 2 new Forgotten Heroes posts, a ranked review of all the drivers so far, a look at the teams applying for F1 in 2011, and regular articles across the way.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: