|Last day of term in Hungary and school’s out for summer!|
Well this is it guys… the very last Grand Prix before the Big Summer Break. We’re now 11 races down with 9 races to go. By the time the Formula 1 Circus™ rocks up in Spa in September, we’ll all be detoxing from our summer hols and feeling the cool nip in the air of Autumn. Although alarmingly come the Belgian Grand Prix, the kids still won’t be back at school (sob and wail – actually perhaps I’ll postpone the start of the detox until the following week).
|The French Jake Humphrey and Mrs Romain Grosjean (yes really), the TF1 presenters of Formule 1|
I’m quite disappointed that there will be no Grand Prix to blog about while we’re vacationing in France. I have watched many a F1 race from my au pair days/various holidays and their commentary is something to behold. Their commentators border on the clinically insane and make Murray Walker seem measured and laconic in comparison! Way back when, the only person they ever, ever talked about was Alain Prost who was normally boring his way to another dull and efficient victory, although occasionally they took some time out to rant about Senna. In more recent times, they used to vent their spleen on Schuey (or Shu-marrrrrr-ahhhhhhhhh as they called him). Come to think of it, that’s not much different to the Beeb coverage. David Coulthard and his white jeans would fit in nicely on TF1.
I’ll spare you too many details but the House of Power has not been in the rudest of health so my race build-up viewing was severely curtailed. I long for the day when I can sit down and watch the full, uninterrupted build-up to a Grand Prix race or indeed a race that isn’t being partly fast-forwarded or being watched on Delayed Live. Mind you, I long for a day when I get 8 hours sleep, or a lie-in or kids that feed themselves. It doesn’t take Einstein to deduce that a lot of the chaos in my life emanates from living in a house with small people (you might as well add the accident-prone husband to that list as well). Still I am eternally thankful that both the 5 year old and 1 year old are fanatical and mildly tolerant (respectively) of F1.
|Race weather forecast (not as predicted naturally)|
So back to the Hungaroring. Resists the urge to type “must we”. Oooops said it anyway. I dived into proceedings straight away with #MartinsGridWalk. The first alarming piece of news was that it was ‘baking hot’ at the circuit. Damn and blast – where were the much vaunted severe and heavy thunderstorms which they promised us would be hitting the race. Thanks, guys, you’ve just rendered whole chunks of my qualifying blog obsolete. Reinmeister Schuey, Abort Abort.
Martin showed us some bits of tarmac that were breaking up. Hopefully this wasn’t the actual track. That’d make for an interesting race. Quick chat with Webber (the husband observed that Webber is the new Christian Horner, ie. always keen to spout on in front of the camera – good grief what is it with Red Bull!?). Can’t remember what he said but he was only starting 11thso who cares. Martin then spoke to the Master of the Dark Arts, Adrian Newey, and then failed to ask him about the now illegal engine map saga. Tut tut, Martin.
|Christian Wolff, the 17th century philosopher (not to be confused with Christian ‘Toto’ Wolff)|
Next up, Martin interviewed the brilliantly named Toto Wolff who recently bought a stake in Williams. The husband got unfeasibly excited and started regaling me with tales of Wolf’s involvement in F1 in the 1970s. Being slightly less ancient than the husband, my recollections are slightly hazier. The Wolf of the husband’s yesteryear went by the name of Walter. He bought 60% of Frank Williams Racing Cars, hired Harvey Postlethwaite as chief engineer (good move!), fell out with Williams (and certainly not the last to do so) who left to start his own team, then hired Jody Scheckterfrom Tyrrell and they actually did pretty well. I googled the new Wolff on the block and initially came up with with a 17th century German philosopher called Christian Wolff (interesting chap mind you – he has a mountain on the Moon named after him!). Anyhoo, I finally located Toto Wolff – turns out he’s done a bit of racing, has some investment companies and is married to Susie Wolff (who in a stunning coincidence happens to works for Williams as a test driver!). There endeth the history lesson and various Wolf(f) stalker facts. Its not that the Hungarian Grand Prix was boring or anything you understand (she lies).
|Ross Brawn, less than ecstatic at the start of the race|
Time For the Start and Go Go Go…! Except it wasn’t go, go, go as some muppet near the back of the grid had stalled his car. Holy cow, it was Michael Schumacher. There was then a lot of chat as to whether he had stalled or had a problem with the start procedure. Basically it transpired he had stuffed up meaning he would start from the pitlane and all the other cars would have to do an extra formation lap. The 5 year old was severely unimpressed although he had nothing on Ross Brawn who was looking stony faced (ie. more so than normal).
So time to start the race again. Hamilton got away well and Button jumped Vettel to leap into 3rd place. Contrasting fortunes lower down the order as Webber climbed up from 11th to 7thon one lap while Maldonaldo slunk (real word?) from 8th to 12th. Watch out everyone, Bad Driver Maldonaldo is on the loose.
|So, Kimi, what you need to do is press the red button twice and everything will be fine.|
Kimi radioed in to ask why wasn’t his KERS working only to be told just to press the ‘ok’ button twice. Isn’t this the F1 equivalent of calling Helpdesk only to be told to switch the computer off and back on again. “But my computer is on fire”…”yes just switch it off and back on again”.
More bad Schumacher news – he was being investigated for speeding in the pitlane. Yes, the pitlane he had to return to after stalling his car on the grid. Oh, Michael.
By lap 7, Hamilton was leading Grosjean by 2.1 seconds so he wasn’t exactly opening up the commanding lead one would have hoped. When you think that a few McLaren pitstops had to be factored in, a paltry 2.1 second lead was quite worrying. Just as Brundle remarked that nothing much had happened, we had our first moment of excitement since…er…the start of the race when, on lap 12, Kamui Kobayashi overtook De la Rosa for (wait for it…) 20thplace. Not that the husband and me were getting bored (him) or restless (me) but we started speculating who should move where in the summer. Anyone fancy Grosjean at Ferrari?
|Its Narain, this man is a legend
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Suddenly, it was back to reality with a earth-shuddering bump as Schuey took Narain Karthikeyan for 22stplace.
All of a sudden we had the first flurry of pitstops. Button shot into the pits not a moment too soon as he was literally skidding all over the track and came out in P10 behind Nico Rosberg. In came Senna, Nico, Di Resta, Vettel and Alonso. Vettel emerged behind Button who was promptly told by Radio McLaren that they were adopting Plan A. Oh budda, here we go with the McLaren Codeword antics. Alonso meanwhile had the misfortune to be stuck behind Perez for a couple of laps although he eventually muscled past him on lap 21.
In came in the race leader Hamilton on lap 20 and he had a slowish pitstop (McLaren Pitstop Disastometer rating of 3) but as luck would have it, Grosjean who pootled into the pits the following lap had an even more sluggish pitstop. Which all meant that our man, Lewis, stayed in the lead. Button then started making some inroads into Grosjean’s lead after a few very scrappy laps from the Frenchman.
And what of Vettel, the man who started 3rd on the grid. Well as we approached the halfway mark, he was still stuck in 4thbehind Button and decided to have a Big Sulk about it all. He radioed in to say “I can go much faster than this…do something” which elicited the amusing response “we can’t just try anything…we’re looking at it”. My own response would have been to point out that you’re the one driving the car mate so get on with it.
|Those codebreaking sleuths at McLaren get their race gear unpacked|
More codebusting nonsense from McLaren who told Jenson and Lewis that they were moving now to Plan B. Good old Plan B, it never fails hey. What Plan B apparently meant was a pitstop which had the unfortunate result of bringing Button out behind Senna. Oh dear.
So on lap 36, the order was 1. Hamilton, 2. Grosjean and 3. Vettel. Lewis was now catching up with those pesky backmarkers and didn’t appear to be enjoying life stuck behind Glock’s
tractor Marussia. True to form, he came on over the airwaves to whinge that the drivers weren’t getting out of the damn way. Oh just take a chill pill, Lewis!
Vettel came into the pits on lap 39 and returned to the track ahead of Senna and, more crucially, Jenson Button. Realising that Plan B was now a load of crud, McLaren told Lewis that they might revert to Plan A. On lap 41, in came Lewis to the pits for the final time and hooray, he made it back out in the lead! Two laps later, he lapped Schumacher. How the mighty have fallen etc.
|Massa’s 2013 contract lies in ruins?|
On lap 44, Alonso came into the pits from 3rd place. We were told that apparently Ferrari might not be renewing Massa’s contract. No, really?
Meanwhile Kimi was absolutely flying (resists flying Finn joke) out in front and he was being told to really push before his final pitstop. As he came out from the pits, he was side-by-side with his team-mate, Grosjean. And as they say, what do you think happened next? Well two Lotuses sitting in the gravel would have been a reasonable shout but in actual fact, Kimi just forced Grosjean wide and bulldozed his way past for 2nd place. You don’t mess with Kimi.
Time for another Button pitstop and this time we had a McLaren Pitstop Disastometer rating of 6 due to a problem with the front left wheel. Talking of disasters, time for Maldonaldo to leave his own indelible imprint on the race (or someone else’s car) and on lap 49, he clattered into Di Resta. He drives around like the 5 year old on Mario Kart Wii where you can gain places by the simple technique of crashing into the car in front. Another drive through penalty followed for Pastor to add to his collection.
There was a brief moment of panic where we noticed that Hamilton’s rain light was on but we were all reassured by a Calm Voice from McLaren that this didn’t matter. Incredibly all 24 runners were still going (no mean feat given Maldonaldo was out on track). Its fair to say that Hungary isn’t exactly the most incident packed of races.
Lap 59 and in came Vettel who returned to the track just ahead of Alonso. Kimi was only a second or so behind Hamilton but came on the radio to tell Lotus that his only hope of taking the lead was if Hamilton’s tyres went awol. The commentators speculated as to whether this was kidology. As if, Kimi just tells it like it is.
|Schuey retires from the race, will F1 be next?|
And finally on lap 60, we had our first retirement of the race. Of course I might have known it would be Michael Schumacher. We never found out why. I suppose I could trawl the internet but does it really matter in the scheme of things. What an abysmal race for Schumacher from start to finish. I really don’t want it to be like this for him any more. Some magic is definitely still there (you don’t get pole at Monaco for nothing) but his powers are somewhat diminished and the car just isn’t good enough. There will be a lot of reflection done in August I suspect. Still his retirement means a fresh gearbox for Spa. *Clings to tiniest crumb of comfort in desperation*.
Just time to note that Senna was having a great drive in 7thand on lap 65, poor old Narain trashed his car and had to retire. And the chequered flag fell with Lewis crossing the line first, hotly pursued (but ultimately to no avail) by Kimi, with Grosjean in 3rd.
Here are the results from the Hungarian Grand Prix 2012:
1. Hamilton – A masterful performance and utterly dominant all weekend long.
2. Raikkonen – Typical swashbuckling and impressive drive. This is how comebacks should be.
3. Grosjean – Tough to lose out on 2nd the way he did but another fine display.
4. Vettel – Less sulking and more focus, Seb.
5. Alonso – A relatively ‘quiet’ afternoon but another useful clutch of points and he now leads the drivers title by a whopping 40 points.
6. Button – A so-so afternoon but strategy error and pitstop error were costly.
|The gorgeous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Anyone fancy a tenner on Kimi to win in Spa. Just a funny feeling I have! I’ll be still blogging away on F1 during August (while the drivers all fly off to compete in triathlons or swill Krug on a yacht somewhere!) such is my dedication so please do keep popping by!