Not a bad race this time. There is quite a lot to comment on. The first thing to say is that Alonso looks like he well and truly has the championship wrapped up. The McLaren, as I have been saying for goodness knows how long, is clearly the best car. But it is simply far too unreliable. It’s been McLaren’s biggest problem since at least 2002, and it needs to be sorted because they have completely thrown this championship away. Räikkönen’s failure, in this super-reliable era (there were only two retirements in the end!), also means that he has to go out first in qualifying at possibly the dustiest circuit in the world, the Hungaroring.
Juan Pablo Montoya has to shoulder his part of the blame aswell. Spinning off on the last corner of a good qualifying lap is not clever, but it is entirely normal of Montoya to do this sort of thing. He started dead last on the grid, yet managed to finish second. Once again, with McLaren, you’re just left holding your head in you hands and saying, “what if?”…
Button also had a good race. He was helped out by Räikkönen’s failure and Fisichella’s handling problems, but his overtaking manoeuvre on Michael Schumacher was brilliant. Schumacher was clearly struggling with those tyres. Fisichella even overtook him in the end at that hairpin, just like Button did. Schumacher took a risk with those soft tyres. I guess it shows you just what sort of a state Ferrari find themselves in. Then again, Rubens Barrichello on the harder tyres was never on the pace during qualifying or the race. He got overtaken by Christian Klien’s Red Bull — ouch.
Jacques Villeneuve likes to bump into folk, doesn’t he? There were three incidents involving him. The biggest one, though, wasn’t his fault. The ITV commentators agree with me that Tiago Monteiro is at fault for moving across the track without warning. BBC Radio Five Live were saying that Jacques lost it on the kerbs. But the fact is that Villeneuve had nowhere to go but the kerbs thanks to Monteiro’s reckless move. Monteiro survived to finish the race, though, and his incredible rookie run has stretched to twelve races — the previous record was eight!
Speaking of Jordan, they have finally been overtaken by Minardi. Minardi have been threatening to do it all season. Their car is unusual in that, even with the rule changes, this year’s car is faster than last year’s. At Hockenheim they catapulted ahead of Jordan, whose new car apparently isn’t reliable enough to race yet. They’re better off just forgetting about it — this is like McLaren in 2003. Time to concentrate on next year’s car, guys.
So embarassment for Jordan, but it all seems to be going right for Minardi at the moment. Patrick Friesacher ran out of money so cannot race any more. No problem, just bring in Robert Doornboss, the promising young Dutchman. His teammate, Christijan Albers, is also Dutch. So cue too many ‘Double Dutch’ jokes. The thing is, though, that for some reason that never seems to get explained, Formula 1 is massive in Holland. In the 1990s commentators often liked to remark that the Formula 1 driver with the biggest fanclub wasn’t Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve or Mika Häkkinen. It was Dutchman Jos Verstappen. So being Holland’s best racing driver is a title both Albers — well-established German Touring Car guy — and Doornbos — up-and-coming youngster — are desperate to have. They’ll both be giving it their all for Minardi for the rest of the season.
Doornbos didn’t get a good start though. He was knocked off by Jacques Villeneuve. Then when he went into the pits the Minardi crew changed his tyres at the same time as refuelling him, which isn’t allowed. Then he was seemingly let go early during his 10 second stop–go penalty for it! I didn’t see if he was indeed let go too early, or if he was punished for it, but he finished last of the runners. Albers, on the other hand, had a great race. He finished ahead of both Jordans, aswell as Villeneuve and Trulli (who had their own problems). In a race where there were only two retirements, Albers finished 13th!