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So who will finish the season second? 15 Aug 2004

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R24.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary, 15 August 2004

Michael Schumacher’s dominant victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix has secured Ferrari its sixth Constructors’ championship in a row – the question is now that of which team will come second.

Both BAR and Renault hope to end the season as ‘best of the rest’, with Renault currently just eight points ahead of their rivals. Their relative proximity was well illustrated at the Hungaroring where Alonso’s third place gave Renault six points, but Jenson Button’s fifth and Takuma Sato’s sixth produced a total of seven for BAR.

Button’s run of good form during the second half of the season has already put him into a strong third place in the Drivers’ Championship, 65 points giving him a 19 point lead over fourth place Jarno Trulli. But the erratic fortune of Sato – and a succession of mechanical failures for the Japanese driver – have hurt BAR’s title prospects.

The big question is how far the motivation levels of the team’s four regular drivers will be affected throughout the rest of the season by off-the-tracks politics – with only Alonso knowing that he will be with the same team next year. Trulli has already announced that he is leaving Renault at the end of the season, although he is yet to confirm who he will be driving for. And the controversy of Button’s planned move to Williams rumbles on. Sato also knows that his finishing record could put his race seat at BAR in question.

Ferrari might have secured the constructors’ crown with five races still to go – but for BAR and Renault, everything is still to play for.