Hungaroring: Race Report

Once upon a time there was a boy named Button…

The Race:

…and on a track far far away he climbed into his shiny silver rocket. Being clever and smart he darted to and fro, here and there and on the lightest of feet he ran as fast he could to rescue the magical flag from the naughty blonde elf.

I love the cake

Okay, so it wasn’t quite as easy as it has been made out above, but it certainly was worthy of the fairytale label. Jenson Button’s win represented the subjugation of the most dominant team over the last two years. Since the latter part of the 2009 season Red Bull have stepped up to the world stage and shown the old boys a thing or two, but in Hungary it was an old boy showing the young pups how to do it in style. At his 200th race, at the very track he sealed his debut win in 2006, Jenson Button made it clear he isn’t at McLaren to boost Lewis Hamilton’s ego. The likeable British driver still believes he has championship winning performances inside him, and for someone who celebrated his 31st birthday earlier this year, that is a bold statement of intention.

There had been rain overnight leaving the track slippery at the start, Button reigned supreme and added another wet win to a total of 4 for McLaren. Others, however, didn’t fare as well, Rosberg who celebrated his 100th race in Hungary, went off track at turn 4 while on his installation lap. Massa slid off and took a chunk out of his rear wing at turn 2, he later lamented this incident as the cause for another 6th place finish. It also took Alonso a couple of attempts to get to grips, literally, with the second corner. But as the lights went out the drivers spent several laps desperately trying to keep their cars pointing in the right direction, no amount of pixie dust could help with traction.

At least he apologised

Pixie dust might have been in short supply, but a crystal ball certainly would have helped the likes of Hamilton and Webber. Tyre strategy was the name of the game today, and once again the centre of the action was the pit lane. In, though and out each had their own moment in the limelight. Webber benefitted from being the bravest man to switch to slicks first, but a choice to go to intermediates later on scuppered his chances of a podium, despite a last minute scrap with a beleaguered Hamilton. Being too hard on his rubber and a spin forcing di Resta onto the grass ended the Brits day where he had one hand on the win. However Heidfeld owned the pit lane with his fire-breathing dragon car, a tardy pit stop on high revs overheated the car apparently (Boullier’s out for blood).

Congratulations! (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Even in the best written series, the odd character will slip into the background every now and then, and in Hungary it was the turn of Vettel. Apart from a decent overtake by the Wunderkind around the outside of Alonso, he failed to have the impact of the McLarens. This naturally led to the pitchfork-wielding, ‘burn him’ mob, declaring this to be Vettel’s mid-season slump, he’s been off the podium once all year. Give the kid a break. Oh and what do you know. Taking a detour to the stables, the owners of the prancing horse were yet again struggling in the cooler temperatures. It’s plain to see that the Ferrari’s like their tyres soft and the day warm to get the most out of the somewhat disappointing 150th anniversary edition. However there were some great results to come out of the annual trip to Budapest that we’re related to the newly crowned Rain Meister, rookie di Resta took a career best finish as a much deserved souvenir (see Rookie of the Race below) and Toro Rosso celebrated race 100 with a double point finish.

So as we close the first chapter of the season we are left with several questions to ponder over the summer break. Can McLaren and Ferrari pose a threat to Red Bull? Is there a chance someone could snatch the title from Vettel? Will Heidfeld get replaced? Will Webber stay? Is the split coverage by BBC and Sky the death knell for F1 in its home country? How is Kubica’s recovery progressing? Is Bernie going to be incarcerated? We’ve got until the 27th of August to figure it out!

Penalties: Kovalainen – unsafe pit release (no further action), Perez – overtaking under a yellow flag (drive through), Hamilton – spin on track forcing di Resta to take evasive action (drive through).

Retirements: Trulli (17) – water leak, Heidfeld (23) – fire, Schumacher (26) – gearbox, Kovalainen (55) – water leak

Results:

Position Driver Team Time
1 Jenson Button McLaren 1:46:42.337
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:46:45.925
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:47:02.156
Fastest Lap Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:23.415

Read: Full race results for Hungaroring

Best Driver:

It’s so easy to pick the winner as the best driver, but Jenson Button exhibited such a mature, measured and confident drive he couldn’t be challenged for this acknowledgement. Showing a couple of other guys down the paddock what intrateam fighting was all about on track, Button hounded Hamilton immediately and never let up. His prowess in wet conditions is well documented, his other win this year was in a monsoon-like Canada when he pressured Vettel into a mistake. Although he carved through the slippery track with relative ease, and cleverly ignored a call for inters, he wished the weather had been dry to show his pace in normal conditions. Can we call him the rain meister yet?

Best Team:

The trip to Hungary signaled the 100th race for the Italy based, Austrian influenced team and on a weekend saturated with anniversaries and birthdays, they had a double scoring weekend to celebrate. Their drivers may have come together during a daring attempt at a double overtake on Kobayashi, but they held it together to finish Sunday in style.

Eddie Jordan moment of inappropriateness:

Charlie Whiting has been accused of being a bit safety car happy in the past, namely during the Canadian GP, but for once the fans were left wondering if he had forgotten what is was for. As Nick Heidfeld left his pit box following a tardy tyre change smoke was streaming out of his cars exhaust, by the time he had was on the pit exit flames were licking the black and gold bodywork. He pulled over onto the grass and hauled himself out of the monocoque, leaving the extinguisher-wielding marshalls to do their job one was caught by out by an exploding sidepod. As lumps of metal and carbon fibre were spurted across the pit lane exit cars had to pick their way through, and still nothing from race control.

Rookie mistake:

This is a mistake made by a rookie, instead of a rookie mistake. If the latter was picked it would have gone to Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber for their choice to switch to intermediates in reaction to an all too brief spell of rain. But there really wasn’t an image to compare to d’Ambrosio’s hand brake turn in the pits, getting onto the expanse of painted sponsorship in the pits he spins towards the engineers but didn’t come into contact with anything or anyone. And escaped without a penalty!

Rookie of the Race:

Mr Paul di Resta please step up. His team mate was given a huge vote of confidence before the race started that if he stayed in position he would come away with points, however it would his rookie team mate who would leave Hungary with his career best result of 7th. After two disappointing races, peppered with mistakes and incidents he himself admitted the need for a strong race before the summer break. And that’s exactly what he delivered, more of this and he won’t fear for his seat come Christmas time.

Special mention: Daniel Ricciardo who, in his third race, finished ahead of his vastly more experienced team mate.

The 1000 word picture:

Say what?:

“I love cake so.. I’m hoping someones going to give me a cake. Went to dinner last night and the boys sorted me out with a cake, which is nice, then we got another cake at the hotel so I’m already two cakes up hoping for another cake today.” Jenson Button likes cake.

“Is [Bernie] giving you some tips?” BBC reporter Ted Kravitz talking to Mark Webber. “Yeah, talking about Sky I think.” A typical Webber response if we ever heard one.

“Sky’s closing in.” Nice dig about the deal from Martin Brundle

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