- Karun Chandhok's ESPNF1 column
Jenson deserved the win 100%Karun Chandhok August 2, 2011
The Hungarian Grand Prix was a fantastic race aided by mixed conditions and ultimately won by the best driver on the day. Jenson 100% deserved the win on his 200th appearance on the start line of a Formula One Grand Prix. He qualified near the front, made all the right calls on strategy, fought hard and passed the people he needed to, and put himself in the right place at the right time to capitalise on others' mistakes.
There is certainly an argument to be made that Lewis lost the race on Sunday as much as Jenson won it. The 2008 world champion has always been very quick at the Hungaroring and once again was in top form. Qualifying on the front row, he managed to get off the line reasonably well considering he was on the wetter side of the grid and then piled on the pressure enough for Sebastian Vettel to make a mistake.
Once in front, Lewis looked sublime in the damp conditions, opening up a lead of over 5 seconds very quickly. For two-thirds of the race he looked fully in control until he made two crucial errors - a) he used a bit too much kerb at the slow chicane which spun him around and cost him the lead; and b) in an effort to lose as little time as possible, he did another half spin into the oncoming traffic and was lucky not to wipe out Paul di Resta.
To be fair to Lewis, by that point he was already on what looked like the wrong strategy. He was on the option tyres with another stop to make while Jenson was on the primes and going to the end. So the only way he was going to make the strategy work was to pull out 20 seconds over Jenson which is what he was pushing to do, and in those situations mistakes can happen.
Red Bull had an odd weekend really. They didn't look particularly strong on Friday, although practice is just practice. On Saturday Sebastian got pole but only by the slimmest of margins and we've seen recently how the Ferraris and McLarens are closer to the Red Bulls on race pace. Mark had a tough quali and ended up P6, so it was clear that they didn't have the dominant pace from last year or what was expected by some corners of the paddock. In the early part of the race Seb was certainly struggling for pace in the damp conditions when compared to the McLarens, but once the track dried, he was matching them for speed again. In the end, Seb didn't quite have enough to fight and pass Jenson, and staying out on the slicks for that late shower worked out OK for him to take another 18 points. His championship lead over the chasing pack has actually increased to 85 points going into the summer break - something which I'm sure he would gladly have settled for in February!
Going into the summer break now gives the teams some breathing time and a chance to recharge for the run to the flag. The enforced shut down where literally every Blackberry, e-mail box and office has to be closed is a real godsend to the people who work the long hours all year long pushing to deliver results on track. Inevitably while everyone tries to shut down, you can be assured that the senior technical guys in each time will still be spending some time brainstorming to try and get new ideas for when the factories go back to work. We're getting to that time of the year when teams need to start looking at allocating resources for the following season as well as pushing the development of the current car, so it's a very important time of the year coming up.
But for now, it's holiday time! I'm off to India where it's hardly a holiday - instead a marathon of PR events and meetings but it will be nice to see everyone at home again! More after Spa…
Karun Chandhok gives his views exclusively to ESPNF1 at the end of every grand prix weekend