So, that’s added an extra bit of much-needed spice to the championship. Alonso and Renault having a bad day? About time!
It wasn’t a bad race at all. The first lap was very exciting. The Hungaroring is meant to be notoriously difficult to overtake at, so all the drivers knew that the first corner was critical. They went for all or nothing, and there were at least three separate incidents, one of which had a particularly important bearing on the championship.
Renault haven’t been on the pace once again the race. You could even say that they have begun to fall behind Toyota, Ferrari and even BAR in terms of speed. Renault said that they would go conservtive in order to protect their championship lead. Have they done the wrong thing? It’s all very well having the reliability, but Renault have now been found out.
Alonso’s mistake in qualifying was of huge importance aswell. If Alonso hadn’t run wide on the final corner he might have qualified 4th or maybe even 2nd, and he would have avoided the bottlenecking of the first corner. As it was, Alonso attempted to go right along the inside, like you would in a computer game. Unfortunately it doesn’t work quite so well in real life, especially with twenty cars trying to go through the same tight corner at the same time. Alonso had nowhere to go except for the kerbs, and then Ralf Schumacher’s sidepod. He had to tour round with a wobbly front wing (which David Coulthard later spectacularly crashed into) and pit in for a new nosecone. Alonso couldn’t salvage anything at that point. His race was ruined at the first corner.
Renault got off lightly though. Red Bull’s race was well and truly finished before the first lap. It must be awful for a team to spend an entire weekend preparing, practicing, qualifying, working on the car, only for it all to be over within sight of the start line.
McLaren surprised everybody by bringing in Räikkönen before Michael Schumacher’s stop. My jaw hit the floor when that happened, and I thought Michael Schumacher actually had a chance of winning the race. Luckily, the McLaren boys knew what they were doing, and the strategy was the right one. After the first stop we had a great period of Räikkönen chasing Schumi — at last, something resembling a great wheel-to-wheel battle with a bearing on the championship. Then Kimi got out ahead of Michael Schumacher after the second stop, and the speed of the McLaren and Räikkönen was there for all to see. What a fantastic driver Räikkönen is, and what a great car the McLaren is.
Just a shame it keeps on breaking down! McLaren once again could well have had a one-two, but Juan Pablo Montoya was the victim of yet another McLaren failure. McLaren really need to get on top of this. It is a serious weakness.
Luckily Räikkönen’s car was okay for the finish, and the result couldn’t have been much better for the championship. The gap to Alonso has been closed to a still large 26 points and the next-closest rival, Michael Schumacher, also collected eight points. He still has a massive advantage, but Alonso’s not won this championship quite yet.
The Toyotas made a massive improvement for this race. They had been falling off the pace, but the fact that Ralf Schumacher made it onto the podium shows that Toyota are still able to keep up with the big guys. Ralf even looked like he might have been able to pass big brother Michael at one point. Michael’s tyre wear was once again a problem, but he managed to keep on top of it.
Talking of tyres, BAR blamed their relative lack of pace on the wrong tyre choice. But Takuma Sato finally scored his first point of what has turned out to be quite an embarassing season. There are now only three drivers who haven’t scored a point this season (Davidson, who only entered one race, Zonta whose only race was the non-starter that was the US Grand Prix and Doornbos who’s only had two races in a Minardi).
Williams had another mediocre race, but at least they were in the points this time. Sauber were as unimpressive as ever, and Minardi have been able to show that Hockenheim wasn’t a fluke, even if they didn’t beat the Jordans quite so easily this time around.
And now we have three weeks off Formula 1. Phew!