- Karun Chandhok's ESPNF1 column
'Lewis Hamilton was absolutely sensational'Karun Chandhok August 1, 2012
- Hungarian Grand Prix
The Hungarian Grand Prix wasn't the all-action thriller that we've been spoilt with this year on numerous occasions, although to be fair, the Hungaroring isn't really renowned for overtaking in the dry. I remember having a GP2 race where I went from 14th to 6th on lap one and then that was it for the rest of the day…
Lewis Hamilton was absolutely sensational all weekend. In qualifying there was nobody else even close and Lewis' lap was a good margin clear of the chasing pack who were left to scramble for best of the rest. The hotter temperatures once again helped Lotus and this time they were able to show some good form even on the Saturday, with Romain putting together a good lap to get on the front row. Starting on the dirty side is always a bit tricky in Budapest but the Frenchman made a solid getaway and held position. Once the opening few laps went by and the race started to settle down it became clear that the Lotus cars were going to be a real challenge for Lewis and with their advantage in terms of tyre degradation, they were able to run an extra stint on the softer tyres.
Kimi and Romain both had great pace at different times, but while the Frenchman made a couple mistakes and had a couple scrappy laps, the 2007 world champion managed his tyres beautifully in the second stint which meant that towards the end of it he was by far the quickest man on track - regularly lapping a-second-a-lap quicker than the other leaders! This extraordinary phase of the race allowed Kimi to bring himself right into contention while Romain and Vettel battled each other. It was tight but the Finn squeezed ahead of his Lotus team-mate and in fact I have to say it was nice to see the team allow them to fight on track for position.
From there on it was a straight fight between Lewis and Kimi, much like it was in 2009 I seem to recall. The McLaren man was under pressure from the Lotus and you really got the feeling that Kimi would've pulled away if he was able to get in front. But as it happened, Lewis had it covered. He was quick where he needed to be and managed his tyres where he could through the middle sector to ensure that Kimi never really had a chance to overtake.
Sebastian and Fernando salvaged a decent haul of points to keep them both firmly in the championship battle going into the mid-season summer break. On a weekend where neither Red Bull nor Ferrari looked especially fast, they did what they were expected to do and made the best of a bad situation. Mark Webber will need to find some consistency again if he wants to resume his championship quest in Spa - a superb win in Silverstone has been followed by two disappointing races in Germany and Hungary. Jenson had a great race in Germany and once again looked reasonably good in qualifying in Budapest but for some reason the team opted to use a three stop strategy on a track where overtaking is very difficult indeed and getting track position back, even with fresher tyres was always going to be a problem.
Still, at least all these teams still had cars that were quick enough to score some decent points with one or both drivers. Down at Mercedes on the other hand, there will be some massive head scratching even while the designers sit on the beach for their summer break. The team had a disastrous weekend, where the car looked very uncompetitive and both drivers struggled to get the front end to respond. Their season has certainly unravelled a bit since the highs of Shanghai and Monaco where they genuinely had the fastest car on track. The Brackley squad has clearly fallen backwards in the development race when compared to their rivals and with the wealth of experience and know-how there now, you would imagine that the bosses in Stuttgart will be cranking up the pressure.
So on to the summer break and a chance for all the personnel to remind their wives and children that they do exist! The travel involved in a Formula One season is amazing and it certainly takes a lot out of you so I'm sure the teams and drivers will be looking forward to some time off to allow the minds and bodies to recharge before the hard slog to the season's finish in Brazil.
Karun Chandhok gives his views exclusively to ESPNF1 at the end of every grand prix weekend