Friday, August 12, 2005

Comments on the Hungarian GP

Here are my (late as usual) comments on the Hungarian GP. This one one very exciting race with a lot of action so I hope I didn't forget to much.

The biggest surprise before the race began was that Michael was sitting on pole for the first time this year. Bridgestone had some some serious work on tire compound and it looked like they might have gotten something competitive this time out. JP joined Michael on the front row followed by Jarno and Kimi in P3 & P4 respectively. Alonso started off in P6.

As the race got under way there was all kinds of fun and excitement in turn one. Rubens hit the back of Jarno causing the Brazilian to come in for a nose change, Fernando got dangled up in, I think it was Ralf's Toyota and lost his front wing, Christian Klien bumped the front tire of Jacques Villeneuve's Sauber which sent his Red Bull car into a flying flipping roll. Fernando had to come in right away, as did Rubens. Then before they could make it all the way around the track once, DC's Red Bull ran over the remnants of Fernando's nose which completely trashed the front right suspension on his car sending him flying out on turn one as well. All in all, not a good day for Red Bull. The loss of time needed to change the nose of Fernando's Renault put him so far back he never really had a chance to catch up.

The initial scrum also saw Kimi jump into second ahead of JP. There was some speculation that this was done on team orders (McLaren are known to let their drivers drive and not give them orders for the race) but it was more likely that JP was slowed by a much heaver car. Both Kimi and Michael were on a 3 stopper while JP was on a two stop strategy.

Once the fun was had and racing got under way Kimi and Michael were trading fast lap as they blasted away from everyone but JP. But while everyone was watching the two frontrunner's, JP was quietly setting himself up for a race win. After the first stop by the leaders, he ran off a number of fast laps that allowed him to stay with the other two after his first stop. He came out of that 6 seconds behind Michael and 4 behind Kimi. If things held together he'd have the race well in hand after their last stops. But, OC, this wasn't to be. The McLaren's penchant for mechanical problems, that has bitten Kimi all year, hit JP this time. With the race in hand his driveshaft failed, putting Michael and Kimi back into 1-2.

As the race was progressing there was a lot of focus on the Ferrari's right rear tire. Would it hold up? After about half of the race was done you could see that it's inside wall was starting to wear away. His lap times were getting slower and slower but he remained ahead of Kimi. And you know how hard it is to pass the 7 time world champion. But McLaren made a brilliant strategical move. When the next round of pit stops was under way, they stayed out one lap longer than Michael and then short-filled Kimi to get him out in front of the Ferrari. Once that was done it was only a question whether the car would hold together. It did. Michael finished second and brother Ralf, third.

Some other highlights of the race were the Williams cars. The team has been steadily falling further and further back in the pack all season. This race they came in 6-7 for their best finish of the season. Taku also had his best race, finishing 8th for his first points of the season. He was the only full-time driver without a point up to now. This has led to some real speculation as to his ride for 2006.

Let's see, what else. Oh, the Sauber's had some fun times, too. Jacques car went up in flames during one of his stops while his teammate, Felipe Massa, saw his car go up just 7 laps later. The word is that the team will be changing from Ferrari engines to Toyota for next season. Jarno did a good job of finishing 4th considering there was some damage to the rear of his car from the contact with Rubens.

Speaking of Rubens, during the pre-race show the talk was all on what is known as the "silly season." Getting towards the end of the season rumors start flying around about who's going to be driving where for next season. One of them was that Rubens would be leaving Ferrari for a #1 driving slot with either BAR-Honda or Toyota. All of the commentators agreed that this would be a stupid move by the Brazilian. Sure he's going to be #2 as long as Michael is racing, but the prestige and business opportunities for him as a team Ferrari driver would far outweigh what he might be able to get WRT race wins. Well, not long after the race it was confirmed that Rubens was leaving Ferrari. I don't know where to yet but Ferrari has already signed Massa to take his seat. I think that Rubens might believe he's as good a driver any anyone, including Michael. Maybe once upon a time he might have had the potential but he never came back 100% from his crash at Imola in '94, the same race that claimed the life of the great Ayrton Sena. Sena's record for pole's is finally in jeopardy. The last significant record Michael has to achieve is number of poles. After his pole at Hungary, his 64th, he's now one away from tying Sena. Ayrton only ran 161 races to Michael's 230 (and counting) though. Ah, what would the landscape of F1 be like if not for Tamburello.

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