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Hungary race analysis - what goes around, comes around 04 Aug 2008

Race winner Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren celebrates victory.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 3 August 2008 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 3 August 2008 Timo Glock (GER) Toyota celebrates his second position with Tadashi Yamashina (JPN) Toyota F1 Chairman; team mate Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota; and the team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 3 August 2008 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 3 August 2008 Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03 overtakes Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams FW30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 3 August 2008

McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen may have benefitted from others’ misfortune in Hungary on Sunday, but some would say it was merely payback for the poor luck he has previously suffered this season. It was a race that saw McLaren move into second place in the constructors’ standings, taking a sizeable chunk out of Ferrari’s lead in the process. The only consolation for the Italian team after that late engine failure was their revived race pace, which saw Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa score the two fastest laps of the race.

More upbeat were Toyota and Renault, who both got two cars home in the points after displaying genuine progress in Budapest. Seemingly going in the other direction were former 2008 race winners BMW Sauber, who left with only a single point after a highly disappointing weekend. We take a team-by-team look at the Hungarian Grand Prix…

Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 21.753s, P1
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 21.493s, P5

If McLaren had made the most of their front row positions in Hungary, they would have won from the front. As it was, Kovalainen won when Massa and Hamilton met trouble. Such are the vagaries of Formula One racing right now, especially at a place like the Hungaroring. The Finn played his usual second fiddle to the Englishman as Hamilton kicked himself and took the fight to Massa until his tyres began to suffer. But when Hamilton’s left front Bridgestone picked up the puncture that dropped him to his eventual fifth place finish, and Massa’s engine failed, Kovalainen was there to pick up the pieces. Sure he was lucky, but many times this season he hasn’t been. What goes around, comes around.

Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 21.195s, P3
Felipe Massa, 1m 21.355s, P17, retired, engine failure, lap 68

How unlucky can you get? Massa had this one covered after grabbing his chance at the start, and would thoroughly have deserved a fourth 2008 victory that would have put him back in the lead of the world championship. Instead, fate had other ideas as his engine scattered. Raikkonen was off the pace for most of the race, but came alive on the softer Bridgestone rubber in the closing stages to chase Glock home for the final podium place. But even he admitted that this was his lucky day.

Timo Glock, 1m 21.671s, P2
Jarno Trulli, 1m 21.638s, P7

Once upon a time Toyota’s strong qualifying performances were down to low fuel loads, but their joint best result (Glock’s second place) was a genuine achievement that bodes well for the progress the team are making. The young German was well in the fight for points all afternoon after beating Kubica to the first corner, while Trulli brought his car home seventh to bring the points haul up to 10. Only McLaren did better, with 14.

Fernando Alonso, 1m 21.793s, P4
Nelson Piquet, 1m 21.537s, P6

Yet again Renault scored good points, with Alonso fourth and Piquet continuing his recent upward trend with sixth place. The eight points put them ahead of Red Bull and into fifth place overall, one place off their target for the season, but the downside was Toyota’s 10 points for Glock’s second place and Trulli’s seventh which kept the Japanese manufacturer in fourth.

BMW Sauber
Robert Kubica, 1m 21.941s, P8
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 22.183s, P10

By BMW Sauber’s standard from earlier in the season, eighth place was a disaster, especially as Kubica started fourth on the grid. They were slow, and the Pole struggled for grip all the way through as he fought ‘massive oversteer’. Heidfeld’s decision to run with a single stop helped him pass three cars but otherwise condemned him to nurse the tyres on a fuel-heavy car all afternoon. To make things worse, they also lost second place in the constructors’ championship standings to McLaren.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 22.125s, P9
David Coulthard, 1m 22.732s, P11

For a while Webber looked a possible points contender, but Red Bull lacked pace this weekend. Coulthard did himself no favours after running wide in Turn Two at the start, climbed into the points before his fuel stop, and struggled throughout with oversteer.

Jenson Button, 1m 22.397s, P12
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 22.436s, P16

Button left the site of his sole Grand Prix victory (two years ago) bucked that Honda made some progress, even though he started and finished 12th. He made a poor start, got boxed in with too much wheelspin in Turn One, and then had to fight back. Barrichello made a good start, but then suffered from the team’s decision to start him on used front tyres and new rears which naturally affected the balance. Then a fuel rig problem led to a brief fire and a delay as the second rig was called into use.

Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 23.307s, P13
Nico Rosberg, 1m 22.397s, P14

This was another bitterly frustrating race for Williams. Rosberg lost ground at the start, then had a fuel rig problem which delayed him during his pit stop. Nakajima’s crew switched him to a single-stop race which did not pay off, and later he lost ground after a clash with Fisichella.

Toro Rosso
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 23.220s, P18
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 24.222s, retired, overheating, lap 23

Bourdais’ race fell apart when back pressure in the fuel tank, due to the high ambient temperature, caused a fire. The extinguishant got on to his visor, and in the second stop when exactly the same thing happened it also got inside it. He needed a third stop to have the offending item cleaned up, and lost all chance of a decent placing. Vettel had an off-course adventure in the final corner early in the race and lost many places, and subsequently retired with overheating while leading his team mate.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 22.641s, P15
Adrian Sutil, 1m 23.650s, retired, brakes, lap 63

Fisichella thought he extracted the most from his car all through the race and was encouraged by Force India’s pace compared to Williams, but Sutil had several off-course moments which were prompted by overheating brakes. The fronts were locking up regularly, promoting understeer, and he was eventually forced into retirement by a front right tyre puncturing and the brakes giving up.