|This one is for Nicole…Nicole are you here…Nicole…papa…wibble|
Previously on F1, Lewis Hamilton got pole and Sebastian Vettel won the race. So naturally my heart did not leap with joy to see Vettel starting on the front row of the grid alongside Lewis Hamilton who had plonked the Mercedes on pole yet again. Even Lewis said it would be a miracle if he won but Hungary has a habit of being unpredictable. And we like unpredictable races, mainly because that generally means that Anyone But Vettel wins (which sadly doesn’t happen very often).
Anyway fast-forwarding wildly on to #MartinsGridWalk and yep as we had been forewarned several thousand times it really looked like a scorcher out in Budapest. First up a quick chat with Sutil (well eventually) who brought to us the jawdropping news that it will be a long race. And a hot race. Challenging. Cars have dry ice on them. Yadda yadda. Cool sunglasses though!
Martin had a special little gadget thing which told us the track temperature was 48 degrees. This is somewhere around the most oppressive heat that I’ve ever encountered in all my life which was in Alice Springs. What a hell-hole of a place for all sorts of reasons but mainly the heat and the flies. Maybe an ice-pack vest makes all the difference.
|Hell on earth|
Jenson told us its hot but hey we’re in Hungary and it should be good fun and strategy should be interesting. Martin asked what are you doing with tyres? Jenson – I forgot to ask! He’s too cool for school that guy.
Martin spoke to someone called Sam Worthington who I’ve never even heard of. He is an actor apparently and he is Australian. Surprising lack of recognition given my encyclopediac knowledge of actors from Neighbours. Just IMDb’ed him and he’s been in Avatar, Terminator Salvation, Clash of the Titans etc. I’ll stick to Neighbours thanks.
A quick but hugely insightful chat with the Master of the Dark Arts himself, Adrian Newey who told us in agonised tones the cars are right on the limit of what they designed cars for. Everything is on the edge. The start isn’t the problem but its what happens when temperatures build, eg. long pitstops can cause problems. Its fair to say Adrian obsesses a lot about actual problems, potential problems, even totally unlikely problems. I’m intrigued at what Adrian will do in the F1 summer break – surely he doesn’t go on an actual holiday. He might actually short-circuit with boredom in a French market somewhere. I love Adrian really but just wish he’d stop working for Red Bull!
|Adrian – to be fair it probably beats a French market|
Final word was inevitably with Bernie Ecclestone who Martin instantly annoyed by referring to him ‘cutting a deal’ with the Hungarian GP organisers to hold races there for the next few years. Bernie preferred the term ‘made an arrangement’. The latter sounds more sinister if you ask me but no one is asking me so lets leave it there.
Time For the Start (and the lights sensibly went out very quickly given the cars were about to spontaneously combust) and Go Go Go…! A VERY sluggish start from Vettel but somehow he clung onto second. Oh yay. Replays showed some very aggressive driving from Vettel to keep Grosjean behind him and in my book it was almost weaving but being the sainted Vettel we will not hear a word of criticism. Rosberg was mounting a challenge on Grosjean but had the two Ferraris all over him and Nico under pressure went wide. Then as he rejoined the track, he was hit by Massa, sustained some damage and starting sliding back down the field.
|A mental start to the Hungarian GP|
So the very early front order was shaking out as Hamilton, Vettel, Grosjean, Alonso, Massa and Kimi. Alonso’s declared aim for the race was to finish ahead of Vettel. Good luck with that one Fernando. By lap 6, Grosjean was catching Vettel who was starting to really struggle with the tyres. Also having a mare (actually way more of a mare) was Rosberg who was all over the track before locking up and flat-spotting his tyres. We heard that Massa had lost his end-plate. Of course he had. Its almost back to Ferrari Disaster Days.
On lap 10, the race leader, Hamilton came into the pits and he slotted back into the field inconveniently behind Jenson Button who was on the same compound tyre (as Crofty told us in dramatic fashion but…er…the McLaren and Mercedes aren’t really competing in the same league so whatever). On lap 12, Vettel pitted and he came out behind Hamilton AND Button. Small rejoicing in Power Towers. Crumbs of comfort and all that. Then it was the turn of Alonso to pit so we had now a Lotus 1-2 running order up front. Meanwhile Vettel could not get past Button who was defending absolutely brilliantly (god bless you Jenson) and Grosjean was joining the fray behind them. Webber was now leading the race and had yet to stop.
Vettel was told over the radio that he needed to drop back to cool the car and he asked the team to check his front wing which he had clattered in a failed attempt to pass Button. Grosjean was all over the back of Seb’s car but was unable to make a move stick. As I remarked to the husband I just don’t think he has the cojones to take Vettel. Button was told ‘we are in the window’. So two-stopper then. We heard Adrian Sutil was out due to a hydraulic leak. Poor Adrian who was having a decent race – his luck has been terrible this season. Pretty much ‘bad luck Johnny’ proportions. The old farts will get that reference.
|Johnny on a good luck day!|
Kimi had now set the fastest lap of the race. Presumably he had just received confirmation that some money had just been transferred into his bank account! There was now a very nice gap building up between Hamilton and Vettel. A fierce battle for 3rd was in full swing between Button, Vettel, Grosjean and Alonso. It was fair to say that Button was changing the race fortunes of quite a few drivers.
The race-leader, Webber finally pitted after 23 laps – an impressively long first stint. Presumably he now thinks the car was less a crock of shite than he did yesterday. That post-qualifying interview was simply brilliant and Ferrari think they have problems with Alonso’s attitude!
Finally after 13 long laps, Vettel passed Button on lap 24 and suddenly he was taken by Grosjean and Alonso too. He sustained wing damage from the ****ing Lotus (JB’s words). Its fair to say Button was not happy with Grosjean. Again. In came Grosjean to the pits and brilliantly he rejoined just ahead of….Jenson Button. Grosjean put a fabulous move on Massa (hmmmm but he didn’t manage to do it on Vettel did he?). My 6 year old has told me to put in my blog that ‘Grosjean was a little bit cheating because he went on the grass’. You’d never think his favourite driver was Michael Schumacher would you? I need to toughen him up some more!
|Gratuitous Schuey photo!|
On lap 32, Hamilton pitted after a 21 lap stint (tyres on a Mercedes car not falling off a cliff shocker – who knew?) and he took Webber on the outside two laps later for 3rd place. Vettel and Alonso went into pits together and Vettel came out behind Button. Again. He must be sick to death of the sight of the McLaren exhaust.
Remember that ‘fabulous move’ by Grosjean on Massa. Turned out he was given a drive through penalty for leaving the race track. Did the 6 year old complain to the race stewards? Well in my opinion that was extremely harsh and unwarranted. Yes, he’s had some very rash moments (for which by and large he has been penalised) but I think drivers are exploiting his ‘careless driver’ reputation. Most drivers leave the track at that point and no one gives a toss.
Just when I was wondering when the wheels were going to come off Hamilton’s Mercedes (well not literally – actually yeah maybe literally thinking back to the British Grand Prix), he set a new fastest lap and was two seconds clear of Mark Webber. Vettel was gaining on Kimi now in 3rd place by a second a lap. Just Stop It Now. Kimi darted into the pits on lap 43 for his second (and final) set of tyres. If anyone can make them last Kimi can.
|Does anyone recognise this man?|
Anyone remember Valtteri Bottas? Shortish guy from Finland? Drives for Williams? He pulled over on lap 45 in a slightly inconvenient spot (ie. the start-finish straight!) but luckily no safety car which-would-play-into-Vettel’s-hands was needed. Grosjean had a very slow stop and was back into the path of Button. What is it with those two?!
Hamilton came in for his final pitstop on lap 51 and had an entertaining little skirmish with Webber for P2 but executed a brilliant move to re-take second place. So with just 15 laps to go, Hamilton was 7.4 seconds behind Vettel but the Red Bull had yet to stop again.
On lap 55, Vettel pitted from the lead – Moment of Truth Time. Lewis Hamilton was now leading the race. The Mercedes team radio asked him could he move to a different setting? “Hey man I’m trying to drive here. I’m happy with the way the car is.” Don’t vex the man who is about to win his FIRST race for you. Surely you know how fragile he is.
|There were thousands of Finns in Hungary to support Kimi.|
Kimi and Vettel were now engaged in a big fight for 2nd place. Less than a second between them. Webber was on the charge but still a good few seconds behind Vettel. Dammit – before the end of the season I really want to see a good old ding-dong battle between Mark and Seb for position, preferably in a title-deciding race for Seb
Rosberg was out of the race – his engine just blew up emitting gallons of smoke. The 6 year old was very concerned as to be fair were probably all of Lewis Hamilton’s race team. Still good news (and there’s been precious little of that all season) for Maldonado who now had moved into the points.
Webber received a radio message of ‘fail 22 fail’. Hey? Cor they love their secret codes at Red Bull don’t they. Christian Horner as the new James Bond anyone? The 6 year who is currrently obsessed with secret codes wrote this down in his book. It is possible it might be incorporated into a story at some stage in Year 2.
With two laps to go, Vettel had a good luck and tried a move around the outside of Kimi who was having none of it. What an awesome defensive driving display! Vettel wasted no time in whinging over the radio that Kimi didn’t give him enough room. Duh – how outrageous of the driver who is IN FRONT OF YOU not to yield and immediately give you track position. Like the pandering limpets they are (to Vettel anyway – obviously Mark can go hang) they promised to “get onto Charlie”. Get. A. Grip.
Final lap for Hamilton on the verge of a stunning first win for Mercedes. Meanwhile Kimi was giving EVERYTHING to keep Vettel back behind him right to the bitter end. And Lewis Hamilton crossed the line to win the Hungarian Grand Prix.
|Lewis winning the Hungarian GP|
Around the same time in a commentary box overlooking the Hungaroring, David Croft exploded into a million pieces. Here are the results from the Hungarian Grand Prix 2013:
|Crofty and Brundle, a pretty good double act (actually I’m being serious!)|
- Hamilton – Brilliant drive from start to finish and some phenomenal racecraft to take his maiden win for Mercedes. Wow he really likes Hungary – 4 wins in 7 races. Taking nothing away from Lewis, I’m not sure it was the greatest passing ever seen in the history of the sport but we all know that Niki Lauda is prone to moments of hyperbole!
- Kimi – An amazing result to hang onto 2nd in the face of unrelenting pressure from Vettel. Very few other drivers in the current field could have managed the same feat.
- Vettel – Gave his all and when he looks at the latest championship standings he’ll be pretty pleased with life. Bah.
- Webber – Considering the qualifying disaster, a very good result.
- Alonso – You cannot level any criticism at Fernando for another tenacious drive but really 5th might as well be nowhere.
- Grosjean – An eventful race but a good result given the time lost for various penalties.
So we are half-way through the season. How did that happen? I never thought I’d say it but I am hugely grateful to Mercedes injecting some excitement into the season – all the more remarkable because it was so unexpected after last year’s dismal end for the Silver Arrows. Lets just thank the lord that some others drivers like Rosberg and Hamilton are taking some race wins and partly putting the brakes on the Red Bull Juggernaut that otherwise would be rocketing off into the distance to Fourth Title Glory. It will be fascinating to see if Mercedes can maintain their upwards trajectory in the 2nd half of the season – if they have finally nailed their tyres problem (and given they coped with 50°c heat in Hungary that would appear to be the case) then they could really chuck a curveball yet in the 2013 championship.
|Happier times (a long time ago!)|
Since the race all hell has been breaking loose! Sure it’s the Silly Season where all sorts of daft rumours usually fly around especially with now races to write about but one thing’s for sure – all is NOT well at Maranello. Alonso has finally spat out his dummy with yet another season of trying to make an under-performing Ferrari compete with Red Bull. And can you blame him. Apparently Di Montezemolo provided each engineer during a meeting on Monday with a knife, along with an invitation to put it between their teeth when thinking how to tackle the second half of the season. Its an interesting motivational tool although you might think slightly risky in a workplace where tensions are running pretty high. I’ve worked in places where knives would have been a really bad idea! Alonso has been duly slapped down and was told that “all the great champions who have driven for Ferrari have always been asked to put the interests of the team above their own”. Er like Prost who famously called his Ferrari a truck. Athough he was sacked shortly afterwards. Ferrari would do well to remember that Alonso dragged last year’s diabolical car almost single-handedly into contention for the championship and but for Vettel’s bizarrely indestructible Red Bull (that kept going despite crashes and spins), he should have clinched the title for Ferrari in Brazil. The point that he fails to grasp is that Alonso has just turned 32 and the clock is ticking on the remaining years left that he has to win more titles. The last Ferrari World Champion was Kimi Raikkonen. A veritable lifetime ago. And lest we forget, Di Montezemolo booted him out in 2009 and paid him NOT to race for Ferrari in 2010.
|The last Ferrari world champion.|
So we have rumours linking Alonso to Red Bull, Kimi to Red Bull, Kimi to Ferrari (really?), Ricciardo to everyone. Where will it all end?
Hostilities will resume at Spa-Francorchamps in a few weeks time.
Bring it on!