Hungarian GP 2007 review: Hamilton edges out Raikkonen

Hungarian Grand Prix, 2007, start | Red Bull / GEPALewis Hamilton won from pole position in the Hungarian Grand Prix – but it wasn’t the cruise to the flag many people expected. Kimi Raikkonen chased him around every lap of the Hungaroring.

Fernando Alonso failed to make it onto the podium and lost more precious ground to his team mate after another controversial weekend for his team – and the sport.

As ever the left hand side of the Hungaroring grid was the place to be. Lewis Hamilton got off to a flyer and Kimi Raikkonen followed him from third to pass Nick Heidfeld easily.

Fernando Alonso learned all about how unfavourable the right hand side of the grid was as he slipped back at the start. To make matter worse, Robert Kubica passed him at turn four and then Alonso ran wide at the final turn, letting Mark Webber past.

That left Hamilton leading Raikkonen and Heidfeld with Nico Rosberg fourth ahead of Ralf Schumacher, then Kubica, Webber and Alonso fending off Heikki Kovalainen.

Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Hungaroring, 2007 | Red Bull / GEPAAlonso quickly got down to business and picked off Webber and Kubica into turn one on laps three and four. But he couldn’t do the same with Schumacher, and held position just under a second behind the Toyota.

After qualifying 14th Felipe Massa had filled his Ferrari to the brim with fuel in the hope of pitting as late as possible. But it left him a sitting duck at the start, with Takuma Sato picking him off at turn four and relegating the Ferrari to 16th. By lap 13 he was 52.3s behind Hamilton.

Sakon Yamamoto’s return to F1 ended on lap six when he spun off, but the Spyker was recovered without the need for a safety car.

Hamilton scorched away in the early laps, pulling a 3.3s advantage over Raikkonen, while Heidfeld in third was another 3.2s behind. Raikkonen pegged the gap and even took a few tenths off Hamilton – but the McLaren driver hit back hard with a new fastest lap of 1’21.171 on lap 13, half a second than anything that had gone so far.

Hamilton had a 4.8s lead over Raikkonen on lap 15, with Alonso in sixth 23.8s behind and still staring at the back of Schumacher’s Toyota.

The first pit stops came on lap 18 as Heidfeld, Rosberg and Alonso all stopped. Alonso took a heavy load of fuel – clearly more than Schumacher took when he pitted on the following lap.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2007 | Ferrari MediaHamilton and Raikkonen came in together on lap 20 and they too opted for heavier fuel loads. But Raikkonen was able to cope with the heavier load much better than Hamilton and had the gap down to just over a second.

The leader was under pressure. Sato came out of the pits on lap 33 into his path, and Hamilton locked his front right wheel before ducking past. Another surprise came out of the pit lane on lap 37 – Massa.

Massa had been 61s behind when he finally made his first pit stop, and came out of the pits right in front of the battle for lead. Raikkonen was piling on the pressure – now just 0.8s behind Hamilton.

But concerns that Massa might delay Hamilton were quashed as the Ferrari began to pull away from the leader. Oddly, the stewards then decreed that he should let the leaders past, which he did with grace and losing even more time.

Ralf Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Hungaroring, 2007 | Toyota MediaAlonso’s race was being ruined by his inability to get past Schumacher. On lap 42 Heidfeld made his stop from third and resumed ahead of the Toyota. That promoted Kubica to third – Rosberg having made his second stop very early on lap 33.

The punishing Hungaroring circuit began to tease out the mechanical failures. Jenson Button ground to a halt on the inside of turn 12 on lap 35, and Vitantonio Liuzzi pulled into his garage seven laps later.

Anthony Davidson’s retirement owed nothing to car failure. Giancarlo Fisichella pulled ut of the pits alongside him but rudely whacked the Super Aguri on the exit of turn one, breaking his suspension, and causing him to spin out.

As the leaders approached their final pit stop Hamilton suddenly picked up the pace. He stretched the gap from 0.8s to 1.7s as Raikkonen pitted on lap 45. McLaren then gambled on keeping Hamilton out for an extra four laps, while the Englishman lapped within a tenth of a second of his fastest lap so far.

He pitted on lap ten and resumed with an extended lead of 4.4s. With both drivers now on the super soft tyres, Raikkonen set about cutting Hamilton’s lead to just half a second by lap 58

Meanwhile things were finally going Alonso’s way. Schumacher finally pitted on lap 47, and Heidfeld and Rosberg both made their third stops on lap 54. Kubica made his final stop two laps later, which left Heidfeld third ahead of Alonso, Kubica, Schumacher and Rosberg.

Now that he had the scent of a podium finish Alonso came to life, reeling Heidfeld in and sitting just half a second behind the BMW.

The battles for first and third were finely poised, with less than a second between the pairs of duellists – but no one was able to get close enough to try a pass. Alonso ran extremely wide at turn four, but where there once was gravel is now tarmac, and he lived to fight another day.

Hamilton had a 1.7s lead as the final lap began but still Raikkonen wouldn’t give up, setting a new fastest lap of 1’20.047 on the final tour.

But Hamilton took his third win of the season and he will have been doubly pleased that Heidfeld kept Alonso off the podium – because it would have been awkward, and because it denies Alonso another precious championship point.

Kubica finished fifth ahead of Schumacher with Rosberg seventh – Williams strangely having sacrificed their precious track position early in the race with a three-stop strategy.

Heikki Kovalainen claimed the final championship points – once again beating team mate Fisichella who was 12th. Between them were Webber, Jarno Trulli and David Coulthard.

A combination of a long first stint and a questionable blue-flagging left Massa an anonymous 13th, sandwiched between Fisichella and Alexander Wurz – the Austrian clearly out-shined by team mate Rosberg.

Sato was 15th ahead of Sebastian Vettel on his d?âăĆ?é?®but for Toro Rosso, and Adrian Sutil astonishingly beat Rubens Barrichello into 17th.

Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Nick Heidfeld, podium, Hungaroring, 2007 | Ferrari MediaOn the podium, Hamilton looked jubilant before the crowd that had flooded onto the track, having extended his championship lead over Alonso to seven points. Raikkonen too has re-asserted his place as the pre-eminent Ferrari driver, now one point ahead of Massa.

But there was no McLaren representative to collect a constructors’ trophy, at the FIA’s instructions. Dark clouds still hang over McLaren, who now have two visits to the FIA Court of Appeal ahead of them.

Photos: Red Bull / GEPA, Red Bull / GEPA, Ferrari Media, Toyota Media, Ferrari Media

Race rating

Another strategic snoozer. The final laps were a sad indictment of how poor the quality of racing has gotten in Formula 1.

Read the support race reports at Maximum Motorsport

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17 comments on Hungarian GP 2007 review: Hamilton edges out Raikkonen

  1. bogart said on 5th August 2007, 14:54

    It is a great ending to a bloody sad weekend. I applaud the outcome.

  2. Cooperman said on 5th August 2007, 14:58

    It’s a little petty of the stewards to announce that McLaren can’t attend the podium ceremony, within 15 laps of the winner looking to be McLaren.

  3. Magnus said on 5th August 2007, 15:16

    Really good race from Raikonnen considering the difference in qualifying. Hamilton clearly felt the pressure and probably should say thanks to Alonso for getting the Mclaren car as fast as it was.

    Hamilton saying today that Ron Dennis anger at the pit wall yesterday was directed at him rather than Fernando also puts yesterday in a bit of new light. I think the race stewards over-reached a bit with denying Mclaren the constructors points and it’s quite likely the court of appeal will hand them back (unless they see it as suitable punishment for the whole spying thing).

  4. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th August 2007, 15:18

    Regarding the stewards, I think the clarification was as much other teams wanting to know whether McLaren’s championship points will be redistributed among the other teams should their appeal fail (they won’t).

    Championship positions after the Hungarian Grand Prix

  5. It doesnt matter what Hamilton said regarding yesterday…the matter is that the racing viewers were denied seeing Hamilton and Alonso battle it out for Pole due to Alonso’s pause, whether it be a team fault or individual fault, sporting conduct rules were broken. Surely Mclaren must accept the ruling,at the end of the day they messed up.

  6. If a team chooses to shoot itself in the foot by letting matters get to the stage of their drivers scoring points off each other in the pits, that’s the team’s business only. The stewards should never have intervened in what was a matter for the team manager to sort out. If Alonso’s petty reaction to Hamilton’s equally petty refusal to do as he was told required intervention by the stewards, why did the FIA not become involved when a team manager assaulted one of his drivers in the pits two weeks ago? Surely such behaviour is worse than a driver being prevented from having one last hot lap in qualifying.

    You can say that the assault was not proven but that is not the point; the FIA chose not to investigate the matter to find out the truth (quite rightly in my opinion – it was an internal team problem). But they step in immediately when it appears that a driver has diddled his team mate in the pits – again before anything is proven. What happens in the pits is none of the stewards’ business. If McLaren had chosen not to let Hamilton out on to the track for Q3 at all, that is McLaren’s choice and nothing to do with the FIA. Teams have to be allowed to run their affairs the way they see fit – if they make a mess of it, that’s their problem only.

    Suppose for one moment that the stewards had kept their noses out of the silly incident. Both drivers would have had their fortunes told by an angry Ron Dennis in the debriefing meeting, the press would have been told a story that they either believed or disbelieved and we would have had a proper race today. Instead, we have bad feeling between just about everyone, yet another pending court case and uncertainty as to who has what points and how long they will stay like that.

    Who is really bringing the sport into disrepute?

  7. Fantastic point! I don’t know which is more frustrating: that I get the sense that everything we are being told by McLaren is a lie (and I’m a a McLaren fan), or that we have to endure another headline-grabbing scandal marring our sport.

  8. Yes it’s a internal team problem, none of FIA/stewards business I agree. But I’ve just heard LH protested against FA and RD, that’s why the stewards step in.

  9. Correction, that’s why the stewards changed their mind and decided to punish FA/McLaren

  10. It would be good to reveal the source of the information about LH protesting against his own team to stewards…

  11. Cooperman said on 5th August 2007, 18:21

    Kevin – I don’t think McLaren have lied to anyone to be honest; I just think Ron’s sensibly keeping quiet with the intention of dealing with it behind closed doors.

    We’ve seen in the past how eager the Stewards are at the Hungaroring. Maybe they’re on commission for penalties!

  12. milos, I heard that from an other guy(KR fan I think) on a f1 forum: “Tele5 (a Spannish which has access to Alonso) reported that Hamilton testified against Alonso and Dennis…”

    So I don’t know if it’s reliable(BTW I used the wrong word, not “protested” but “testified against”), but anyway, it just make sense to me, why punish McLaren when McLaren was actually the victim, if the driver LH didn’t protest/want FA to be punished?

  13. BTW it’s really sad, RD is trying his best to ensure equalty, but both driver just can’t get it. I hope they sort thir problems out soon. I can see not even in 2004 or 2006 RD was suffering as much from the situation. (Yes I’m a McLaren fan)

  14. peteszab said on 5th August 2007, 19:44

    Yes the stewerds were wrong. THew penalty they gave to mclaren was a bit too much but someone with so much expirience in F1 like Ron Dennis eould have to know that there might be a penalty. Everyone knew that alonso was staying in the pits for too long and Hamilton wouldnt be able to make another timed lap.
    Concewrning the language they used on the team radio I think it is very unprofessional and there might be some problems in the team. Alonso stated many times that he does not like his team so much.
    I am a ferrari fan and i think that this years title drivers title will be decided between the two mclaren drivers. Kimi needs some time to understand everything in Maranello just like Schumi did. And then ferrari will be champion again.

  15. Tommy B said on 5th August 2007, 20:14

    Get Hungary off the race calender, its so dull!

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