The Hungarian Grand Prix. It struggles to make a case for itself as round 11 of the Formula 1 World Championship. Like Valencia and Korea, it’s a filler race. Something to keep the fans happy. Unfortunately, Sunday’s race did little to satisfy in terms of racing.
Hardly any passing saw most of the strategic moves done in the pits. For certain drivers it was about endurance. Lewis Hamilton held off the Lotuses of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen for nearly 2 hours. For other drivers, it was about being the guinea pig. Jenson Button, who got off to a great start, was forced to sacrifice his race for the good of the team. The tires were unpredictable and it was Button’s 3 stop strategy, that gave Hamilton’s engineers the data they needed.
Michael Schumacher continued to struggle at pleading his case for staying in the sport. After failing to pull into the correct grid spot position, the remainder of the field was thrown off, forcing Charlie Whiting to send the cars out for a second formation lap. In fear of overheating the Silver Arrow, Schumacher cut power and started from pit lane. Ultimately he didn’t finish the race, his 6th retirement of the season.
Red Bull also struggled under the watchful eyes of the FIA. A controversial suspension modification was the latest incident for the team, who have become VIP members in the steward’s office. Sebastian Vettel was quick in qualifying, but it was clear he was feeling the pressure. In a very uncharacteristic display, the microphones picked up Vettel barking orders at his engineer to “do something”, after struggling to pass Jenson Button in the McLaren. Vettel ultimately finished 4th, keeping Red Bull in lead of the Constructor’s Championship.
Despite a great drive and eventual win by Lewis Hamilton, it was Lotus who stole the show. Both Grosjean and Raikkonen took turns in putting the pressure on the McLaren. The highlight of the race was a bought between the two drivers that saw Raikkonen overtaking Grosjean out of the pits, nearly ending both driver’s races. At this point everyone must be surprised that Lotus hasn’t taken a win this season.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso stayed quiet most of the race, finishing 5th, but maintaining a comfortable lead in the Driver’s Championship.
Formula 1 is officially on holiday for the month of August, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Hamilton saga progresses, as he enters contract negotiations with McLaren. Hamilton’s been very active on Twitter lately and even tweeted “change is good”. Whatever that is in reference to, remains to be seen. There’s a strong possibility that Hamilton will maintain his spot at McLaren, but there have been rumblings over a move to Ferrari. Felipe Massa’s fate should also begin to reveal itself over the coming weeks, with Sergio Perez, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel all being thrown into the conversation as other potential replacements. The soap opera never ends, but that’s the beauty of Formula 1.
The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francochamps is September 2, a proper race on a proper circuit.
Photos courtesy of F1 Fanatic.