Hamilton, Raikkonen, Grosjean – Hungary Race Report

A tight, twisty, technical track took what was otherwise shaping up to be a thrilling race.  As it was, there was plenty of tension and movement up and down the field.  See the full race results here.

The race began after an extra formation lap, courtesy of Michael Schumacher shutting down his engine on the grid for an unknown reason.  While he was pushed into the pits and the car restarted, the grid made an extra formation lap and reset.  Michael’s race only got worse, he was bagged for speeding as he hustled to the end of pit lane and had to serve a drive through.

At the start, Hamilton streaked ahead, leaving Grosjean to fend off a charging Vettel.  Grosjean shut the door firmly but fairly on the first corner.  Meanwhile, Alonso jumped Kimi Raikkonen, whose KERS had temporarily shut down.  Otherwise, everyone got off in about grid order.

As the race progressed, Hamilton and Grosjean began to separate themselves from the field.  It was clear that Grosjean had the faster machine, but equally clear that Hamilton was brilliantly controlling the gap, ensuring that Lotus never had a shot down the DRS front straight.

While Grosjean was unable to make up ground on the first stop, Kimi Raikkonen was able to jump Fernando Alonso and return to his grid position.  This was absolutely pivotal as it set up an absolutely staggering series of laps that put him right into contention.

Overtaking proved all but impossible, as proved by Jenson Button, who found himself trapped behind the Williams of Bruno Senna, unable to get by.  The problem seems to be rooted in Hungary’s very technical second sector.  While most cars behind were able to gain in the first sector, following closely behind through the second generally overheated the tires, making it impossible to keep up and also damaging times in the third sector.

This meant that clear air was at a premium, as it allowed faster pace and less tire degradation.  Unfortunately, the teams were not as quick to pick up on just how hard passing was.  Jenson Button, Mark Webber, and Sebastian Vettel all tried a three stop strategy, but it unfortunately, did not work out for any of them, especially for Button, who looked to be a certain podium contender at the start of the race.

Raikkonen’s insane pace in clear air and reduced degradation meant that he went five laps longer than Hamilton before his second stop, trying to open a 17 second gap, the amount of time for a pit stop.  He was unable to do so, however, and rejoined right next to his team-mate.  The two battling around turn 1 was the most exciting moment of the race as Raikkonen was very firm in shutting the door and Grosjean resisted with all of his might. Raikkonen, however, had the faster pace and took off after Hamilton, quickly closing to within the one second of the leader.  It was a gap he could never completely eliminate.

The F1 season is now on summer break, returning in September for Spa.

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