- Hungarian Grand Prix - The Final Stint
Hamilton satisfies his hunger in Hungary
A round-up of the good, the bad and the downright ugly from the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix
- Hungarian Grand Prix
The first of many?
On Saturday night Lewis Hamilton said he would need a miracle to win the Hungarian Grand Prix. It appears that miracle came in the form of the 2012 construction tyres supplied by Pirelli. But although the new(/old) constructions appear to have helped Mercedes control tyre temperatures and limit degradation, Hamilton's role in the victory should not be underestimated. At each of his three pit stops he cleared the car he came out behind - once Jenson Button and Mark Webber on the other two occasions - and passing drivers running out of sync was the key to making a three-stop strategy work. Sebastian Vettel found that out the hard way, but Hamilton would not let anybody stand in his way. Whether Mercedes are now out of the woods remains to be seen in Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, but team principal Ross Brawn is confident: "In extremely hot conditions, we maintained our Saturday afternoon competitiveness on Sunday afternoon and it certainly feels like we have made a good step forward today."
Alonso to Red Bull?
The weekend started with the usual questions during Thursday press sessions to Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo, Christian Horner and Sebastian Vettel about who will replace Mark Webber at Red Bull next season. But a new name emerged on Sunday: Fernando Alonso. Alonso's manager had a meeting with Horner in Hungary and it sparked speculation that he wants to make the switch next year as he's yet to win a title with Ferrari since joining the team in 2010; with all three going to Vettel and Red Bull. It might not appear realistic as Alonso seems to be the perfect fit at Ferrari and enjoys the number one status at the team, but don't forget the ruthlessness he showed at McLaren in search of his third title. Alonso dismissed the rumours after the race, saying he is "very happy" at Ferrari, but a driver of his calibre and desire to be champion again would almost certainly entertain the idea of securing a seat in the car that's won every championship while he's been at Maranello.
The Story of the Weekend
- Shock: Lewis Hamilton - Nobody expected Mercedes to be able to manage the heat at the Hungaroring, least of all Hamilton
- Shocker: Paul di Resta - Even though Force India struggled with the new tyres, his qualifying was well off the pace, and although he made it up to 12th on lap one he didn't have the pace to maintain it. He retired four laps from the end with a hydraulic issue
- Best overtake: Romain Grosjean - His move on Felipe Massa may have been deemed illegal by the stewards but it still required bravery and masses of skill to keep it out of the wall
- Best lap: Lewis Hamilton - Passing Jenson Button on his second lap out of the pits after his first pit stop was crucial to his victory
- Worst lap: Sebastian Vettel - He lost part of his front wing on lap 17 after a botched overtake on Jenson Button and then had to back off as the car overheated. It proved to be disastrous for his race
- Drive of the day: Lewis Hamilton - He was aggressive when he needed to be and protected the tyres when he was in clear air. A brilliant drive to secure his first win with Mercedes
At a track that is renowned for its lack of overtaking, Romain Grosjean's victory hopes hinged on being able to quickly pass Felipe Massa having rejoined behind the Ferrari after his second pit stop. When Grosjean bravely hung on round the outside of the high-speed Turn 4 the press room drew breath and then exclaimed what a fantastic move it was. Doubtless many fans watching were also mightily impressed by the manoeuvre, but Grosjean was not able to enjoy his achievement for long as he was soon hit by a drive-through penalty. The decision was initially met by incredulity as what appeared to be a fantastic and crucial move had the end result of ruining Grosjean's chances of winning his first race. Grosjean was involved in another incident with Button which shows his flaws remain, but whichever side of the fence you sit regarding the legality of the move, he deserved a better result than he got after another strong weekend.
Pirelli takes the heat
Track temperatures were higher than they have been all year at the Hungaroring, but apart from the odd blister the Pirelli's held up well. The switch to Kevlar-belts and a 2012 construction appears to have allayed the fears that hung over the sport after the blowouts at Silverstone, and the other good news is that they may have breathed new life into the championship. Although these were the tyres Red Bull has been pining for all year, the Hungarian Grand Prix proved that F1 is never simple. The tougher constructions allowed Pirelli to choose softer compounds, which ultimately saw Kimi Raikkonen beat Sebastian Vettel to second with one less pit stop. Mercedes could be on the cusp of a revival on the new tyres, while Ferrari appear to be losers; although the Hungaroring was never going to suit the F138. Apart from Vettel's lead in the championship, the margins are very small in F1 at the moment and the tyre change could just tip the balance of power in the second half of the season.
Closing in on Concorde
After 10 races of the 2013 championship, it looks like Formula One might finally get the security of a Concorde Agreement before the end of the summer break. A memorandum of understanding has been agreed upon, which does not mean a contract is signed but it does mean there has been agreements on some of the biggest sticking points. The details of Concorde are always a closely guarded secret, but it seems as though the FIA has won some ground in its power struggle with FOM. But to declare a victory for the governing body would be a little premature. Nothing comes for free in F1.
A new deal for Hungary
In among the rumours of Alonso to Red Bull and all the other pre-race buzz on Sunday morning came the announcement that Bernie Ecclestone had agreed a contract extension for the Hungarian Grand Prix which would see the race remain on the calendar until 2021. At a time when Formula One is faced with a potential (but unlikely) 22 races next season, the strengthening of Hungary's future went down well in the paddock. Those that have been attending races since the sport first arrived behind the Iron Curtain in 1986 have seen a lot of changes, but the Hungaroring remains a popular venue with its proximity to Budapest, reasonable prices and almost guaranteed good weather. Above all of that, however, it's good to see that the last two race announcements have involved European venues, showing Ecclestone does appreciate the value of ensuring Formula One remains close to its roots.