Heikki Kovalainen lucks in to maiden win

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Heikki Kovalainen took a surprise maiden win at the Hungaroring
Heikki Kovalainen took a surprise maiden win at the Hungaroring

Heikki Kovalainen became the 100th driver to win a Grand Prix in the Hungarian round of the championship.

The win fell into his lap after a heartbreaking failure for Felipe Massa late in the race. Massa had grabbed the lead by the scruff of the neck with an excellent start and held onto the lead through the first set of pit stops.

But the Ferrari driver seemed to suffer an engine failure while cruising the the flag with only three laps to go.

Kovalainen is the second driver to take his first win this year after Robert Kubica’s win in the Canadian Grand Prix.

He had run third behind Massa and Lewis Hamilton for much of the race, moving up to second when his team mate suffered a puncture on lap 41.

Kovalainen’s win comes after the McLaren team extended his contract to the end of the 2009 season.

2009 F1 season

34 comments on “Heikki Kovalainen lucks in to maiden win”

  1. Really feel sorry for Massa..what a race he was having till lap 67 and then something like that happens!!
    Good race for KOVI/KIMI/MASSA and a fantastic one for Glock
    Should I mention that a terrible one for Ham? ;)

  2. Good race for KOVI/KIMI/Alonso*
    Sorry for the mistake!! :P

  3. Lucks into? Nice unbiased reporting.

    How about he drove sensibly, looking after his engine and his tyres?

  4. James Allen was kind enough to confirm Alonso has a contract with Ferrari during the race, he stated that Kimi ran wide after trying to race and overtake Fernando in the OTHER Ferrari.

    how much does Timo’s towel weigh?, he stuffed it into his helmet just before he got weighed.

    also lots of fuel reached flashpoint during the pit stops, showing maybe who cools their fuel and who doesn’t?, speculation but still.. fun to watch fire with no one getting hurt.

  5. makes up for France when Massa was gifted the win, now he over cooks the engine. Lewis wearing his tires out again, nice.

    I’m happy with this result going into the 3 week break.

  6. Even though he lucked into the victory, it was a great drive by Kovalinen.

    The engine failure in Massa’s car was just heartbreaking! It probably would have been his best victory so far if he had won – Massa gets my drive of the day.

    Good driving by Alonso as well, getting back into the thick of the points!

  7. Throttle, did you see the state of his tyres in park ferme? they were wrecked.

  8. Throttle – He was third. One driver in front of him had a puncture, another one broke down three laps from the finish. He drove a good race, but he was lucky.

  9. @Throttle
    I do agree with Keith. KOVI did have a fantastic race but I mean except luck what would you call it to get the engine of race leader who is 14s clear to you, got blown with only 3 laps remaining?

  10. Lewis thrashed his tires again trying to keep up with Massa. No luck there, Lewis wore them out which isn’t the first time.

  11. I can think of very few race wins where luck has not played a part. That is the nature of the sport.

    My point is this was Heikki’s first win, let us not devalue it by saying he lucked into it. He earned it.

  12. Awful circuit as usual. Really the only race-worthy event was Felipe Massa’s brilliant start. How much motivation did Lewis give by provoking Massa after the German GP, saying that he wouldn’t have let him pass so easily? Massa had a point to prove, a team berth to guarantee and a championship to win. No problem if Lewis wants to wind up his rivals – all part of the competition – but he has to be wary about underestimating their reaction.

  13. @Nick – don’t believe Lewis thrashing his tyres caused the puncture. He was on the harder of the two tyres and not due to pit for another 8-10 laps. He would have done well to destroy them. Also, a puncture can only be the result of something poking a hole in the rubber – it’s not like him driving down to canvas in China.

    Nice to have some drama at Hungary, else the processional nature of the event would have been a real downer before the 3 week break. Got to feel sorry for Massa, but Glock was amazing all weekend. Never could have guessed he was carrying more fuel than Hamilton and Massa with his quali pace. Definately one to watch.

    All in all a good result. Hope the podium gives Kimi the drive(sic) to keep pushing for the championship. Many congrats to Kovalainen on his maiden win.

  14. William Wilgus
    3rd August 2008, 15:33

    Had it not been for the bad luck of others, he would not have won. His win is just like Button’s was—because others failed to win. STILL, `To finish first, one must first finish’.

  15. This may be off topic, but I’ve just seen Stirling Moss on TV (not live). He says, “I drove 57 races a year in many different cars. The drivers of today only do 16 or 17 races, in one car. That’s no job for a man.”

  16. Salty, his sidewalls were broken down.

  17. @Nick: So you’re telling me Hamilton can do 30 laps on super softs but not manage less than that on softs? It was a puncture. Bridgestone will confirm it soon.

  18. “because others failed to win”

    er, yes, just like every race win ever

  19. @Internet, the team told him slow down on the softs.

  20. @Nick: Not really. If you watched him onboard on his last stint you could see he was pushing as hard as he could, he was doing a lot of work behind the wheel.

    Have a look at his lap times

    His last stint is almost all in 1:22’s the same pace as his first and second stint.

  21. You gotta be there to be lucky :P
    Congrats Kovi!

  22. First of all – I tipped Kovi to win!

    Agree generally with Throttle. Any win in F1 is hard to achieve. Kovalainen is only the 100th driver to win since 1950. That’s on average 1.8-ish new winners per season, in the entire history of the sport. Full credit should go to Kovi for the efforts of his 1 1/2 seasons in F1 PLUS his years of dedication and skill to get him there in the first place. Any kind of luck is welcome, I’m sure. Ask Hamilton, Massa or any other successful driver how many wins in his/her racing career have come after someone suffering a failure or incident in front them – then ask them if they care!

    Salty – A puncture can be caused by overheating the interior of the tyre. Could be sidewall failures, a general overheating or, as you said, something entering from the outside. Point is, it could be a lot of things – including overdriving. He does seem to suffer from these failures more often than most. Raikkonen and Webber in particular cop (some) criticism for potentially overdriving their cars to breaking point. The same could be said for Hamilton. Who knows?

    My heart goes out to Massa. A thoroughly deserved win slipping through his fingers….poor bugger. My opinion of him rises more and more as this season progresses.

    Congrats to Heikki.

  23. “If you watched him onboard on his last stint you could see he was pushing as hard as he could, he was doing a lot of work behind the wheel.”

    Internet – Yeah. After the team told him to slow down.

  24. @Toby: Did you even look at the lap times for his last stint?


    He never slowed down. He was as fast as he was in his first two stints.

  25. I actually really enjoyed that race despite the fact that it wasn’t rated highly on Keith’s poll. It had drama from the first corner (Massa’s move definitely the best start of the season). As others have said, HEARTBREAKING when his engine blew as he totally deserved the win.

    Excellent race for Glock. He really pushed like hell in that Toyota and maintained composure when put under pressure from Raikkonen.

    Solid race from Kovalainen. Drove smoothly and consistently and owing to some dire misfortune of others culminated in his clinching of the victory.

    Glad we also saw that awesome pace that Raikkonen can produce when he wants to…

    p.s. Can anyone confirm that when the coverage goes to BBC next year, THERE WON’T BE ANY ADS?!!!

  26. Dorian – Only if the BBC break the terms of their charter :-)

  27. I also felt for Massa that guy went out there with a point to prove it and boy did he. Braked really late and showed some balls to pull off the overtaking manouvere on Lewis.

    Thing that amazed me was the way Massa kept the gap between him and Lewis throughout the first stint and then in the second started pulling away and when Lewis responded his tyre burst. Strangely enough it was the front left and it was the sidewall – didn’t that happen to Kovi in Barcelona???

    Glock was amazing and you can tell Piquet has got his confidence the way he nudged Trulli aside.

    It was a good race in the end but that’s mostly due to the drama rather than the racing for the most of it. Was fascinating to see Lewis constantly hinting at how great they are and how they are miles ahead etc only for Massa to respond in style.

    Can’t wait for Valencia.

  28. On a clockwise circuit Hamilton’s most-stressed tyre is his front left. That’s the one you’d expect to go if it was due to his known hard-on-tyres driving style.

  29. @Internet – He wasn’t as fast, he was around 0.5 seconds off the pace of his first two stints, and whilst that doesn’t sound like much, it was on a tyre that offered more grip.

    Also, 0.5 seconds a lap is a huge amount of difference when we are talking about overdriving and within limits.

  30. Did you even have a look at the lap times?

    Just look at them and tell me if they were 0.5 slower than his second stint. You will find they weren’t. 10 of his fastest laps were set in the third stint.

    As for super soft having more grip, that’s wrong. That’s the main reason why most of the drivers chose to go with the harder softs in Q3, because it was the better tire. The fact that he had a really heavy load (~30 laps) and that he was able to set those lap times while preserving the tires, is more proof that the cause was a puncture and not him overdriving his tires.

    In fact if you look at the lap times just before the puncture they were steadily going down, not exactly the symptom of tires being overdriven where exactly the opposite occurs.

  31. Bridgestone did say it was a puncture although they’re still looking into it: Lewis Hamilton’s puncture “probably” caused by debris, say Bridgestone

    Rabi – Kovalainen’s crash at Barcelona was caused by a problem with the wheel rim covers.

  32. These questions have probably been answered on other boards already, but can anyone tell me why

    -Martin Brundle keeps missing the Hungarian GP? This is at least the third year in a row he hasn’t been there.

    -Is there any specific reason the Hungaroring is always dusty? It seems to be in the countryside like most European circuits yet we never here of the other tracks been dusty, is there a quarry or factory close by?

    -Was Massa’s engine on its first or second race?

    Although I am no fan of Massa he was clearly the best driver yesterday, the problem is why is he not more consistent.

  33. Paul:

    – Dunno – My theory: one-man protest against how bad the circuit is.

    – It gets used very little between F1 races. I think it has a round of the World Series by Renault but I can’t think of many other major races. Plus it’s pretty hot out there.

    – Second: Felipe Massa: Great start, awful finish.

  34. A most unfortunate incident for Massa- he pulled off a great move for the lead and made it stick, then gets done in with a mistake that was apparently no fault of his own. Still, great deal for Heikki- while he diden’t out-perform Massa, his car was still standing at the end, and that was good for the win. We’ll see what happens over the break, as it’s a brand-new circuit and with the championship races still close, it’s anyones ball game.

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