The Hungaroring just ruined 1400 Great Britain Sports jokes painstakingly composed by many journalists and sports bloggers. Just when Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were starting to resemble British Tennis, McLaren Mercedes decided to spice things up- with the most unlikely win this weekend.
You’d expect the English cricket team to come back strong, or Team Wiggins and Murray to put up a fight at the Olympics- but one certainly did not see Hamilton following a Saturday pole up with a victory on raceday.
In the end, though, it was team Lotus that came away with the widest smiles. Kimi and Grosjean finished second and third- the first time they’ve occupied two steps of the podium in their short history. It is the Iceman Finn that had the most impressive race, apart from Hamilton, as he drove a storming middle 25 laps to go from 5th to 2nd- after battling it out with his own teammate while exiting the pits, and then overtaking ‘inexperienced’ Vettel. However, DRS had minimum impact when it mattered, and Kimi continued to trail Hamilton by less than a second for the final 20 laps. This was the Brit driver’s 3rd victory on what is clearly his favorite hunting ground- as they head into a month’s break with confidence on their side. Schumacher (who else) holds the record at 4, and Hamilton could add a couple in the coming years. It was McLaren’s 150th pole position, a number that is second to only Ferrari’s 207- and proves that history can be checkered and illustrious at the same time. The Brit achieved his 19th career win at Hungary- a number that is surprisingly low, considering the fact that he has 1 world championship and a couple of runner-up positions to show for his 5 year career. If not for Vettel, he’d have been in the late 20s by now, but that’s like saying Murray would have won 3 Grand Slams and Roddick another 4 if not for Federer’s presence.
For The Queen!
To McLaren’s credit, however bumbling they’ve been, they did say that they expected to outpace every other car this month. That they have only one win to show for their consistent speed over the last few weeks, is a testament to their inability to convert potential into real points- in stark contrast to Fernando Alonso’s constant battle with the pathetic pace of his own car. He finished 5th, somehow, with another miraculous drive in a car that can’t even rank in the top 5 right now, and still comfortably leads the Championship by 40 points. Webber finished 8th, which means he is slowly but surely returning to his roots, with Hamilton and Vettel right behind him in pursuit of Alonso.
Grosjean’s drive was particularly impressive as he kept out World Champion Vettel for a major portion of the race, frustrating the German to behemoth proportions by the time they crossed the finish line. The Mercedes engines have easily been the quickest this month, and Alonso deserves a couple of million more added to his contract for coming away with a brace of wins in the most hopeless of circumstances. Ferrari have a LOT of work to do, and they cannot continue to rely on the Spaniard’s brilliance and experience forever. They are in the driver’s seat for now, as far as the individual standings are concerned, but the others aren’t far behind- and the difference in points can be very deceptive. Vettel, Hamilton and underdog Kimi are coming back, slowly but surely, and will eventually make Ferrari see red if they continue to operate at Force India pace.
Lotus are still looking for their first win of the season, and one would have to say that today was their best chance- considering they were trailing a Brit during Olympic season.
I’m Cool like that
With 9 races to go, and the next at Belgium in a month, the drivers can take some time off, relax and watch their respective countries battle it out at the Olympic Games. One suspects that Hamilton and Button may not come back with the best frame of minds, knowing Great Britain’s tendency to self-detonate at Home venues.