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Hungary race analysis - McLaren back in the hunt 27 Jul 2009

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer during the McLaren Team celebration.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 26 July 2009 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 26 July 2009 (L to R): Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB5 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/24 battle for position.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 26 July 2009 Nico Rosberg (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 26 July 2009 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF109.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 26 July 2009

The revised McLaren MP4-24 had looked threatening at the last round in Germany, and in Hungary it finally got to bare its teeth, as Lewis Hamilton stormed to his first win of 2009. Coupled with Heikki Kovalainen’s fifth place, it meant the team scored as many points in one race as they had in the previous nine combined. But as the men from Woking prospered, it was a tougher day for the key title contenders. Leaders Jenson Button and Brawn had to be content with two solitary points, while Red Bull got just one car home. As the paddock heads off for a four-week summer break (and a two-week factory shutdown), we take a team-by-team look at Sunday’s events…

Lewis Hamilton, P1
Heikki Kovalainen, P5

Hamilton thought he might have a chance of the podium this weekend, and that it depended on making a really good start. As it was, he lost second place in the first corner, but was able to grab it back from Webber on the fourth lap and then dumped everybody once Alonso had stopped for his early refuelling appointment. On this day and this circuit, the MP4-24 could do what it has not looked like doing anywhere else this season, and with Kovalainen bringing the sister car home fifth a 14-point haul brought the team up to fifth place in the constructors’ stakes, ahead of Williams. Of note, Hamilton’s 10th career win was the first for a KERS-equipped car.

Kimi Raikkonen, P2
Felipe Massa, Did not start

Raikkonen was of course Ferrari’s sole runner after Massa’s accident on Saturday, and his second place was a strong boost for Ferrari as they took their best result of the season. At times he was as fast as Hamilton, but admitted that gradually the McLaren driver began to pull away. Ferrari continue to make progress, however, which is the encouragement they need after a tough weekend.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, P3
Sebastian Vettel Retired lap 29, suspension damage

It was a case of good and bad news for Red Bull. Good news that Webber was able to take a strong third place and set fastest lap, bad that Vettel was the victim of suspension damage inflicted by Raikkonen at the start. Good that Webber is now second to Button and that Red Bull are closer to Brawn, bad that McLaren and Ferrari are becoming stronger.

Nico Rosberg, P4
Kazuki Nakajima, P9

For the second race running Nico Rosberg did a great job to take fourth place, so it was thus disappointing for Williams to lose a place to McLaren in the constructors’ stakes. There was nothing he could do about the KERS cars at the start, and that really framed his race despite the speed to set the third fastest lap. His personal consolation was elevation to fifth in the drivers’ championship. Nakajima missed out on a point despite challenging Trulli hard in the closing stages; his downfall was being unable to stay ahead of Button in the early going and then having the Brawn driver dictate his pace thereafter.

Timo Glock, P6
Jarno Trulli, P8

Toyota got their strategy all wrong in Bahrain, and all right in Hungary. Both Trulli and Glock ran long opening stints (28 and 32 laps respectively) on the option tyres, and that set them up for eighth and sixth place finishes which garnered some much-needed points as Ferrari overtook them by a point and a half for third place in the table.

Jenson Button, P7
Rubens Barrichello, P10

Button was fuel-heavy from the start but was going quite well in eighth place until his rear tyres started graining badly. That prevented him from going fast enough to take advantage of his ability to run later than most before the first pit stop. After that it became a damage limitation job as he salvaged seventh place and two points in the team’s increasingly desperate efforts to shore up their fading points advantages. Where Button favoured the option Bridgestones, Barrichello used the prime for his first two stints but lost time after a collision at the start damaged his BGP001’s left-hand sidepod and dropped him to 18th place. He was doomed from then on.

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, P11
Robert Kubica, P13

At times it seemed that BMW Sauber had made good progress in practice, but that didn’t translate into qualifying or the race. Heidfeld made places at the start and lost them round the lap after somebody ran into him. Thereafter he was pretty much stuck in the usual Hungaroring traffic. Kubica had a good opening lap, but later encountered ‘massive understeer’ that ate his front Bridgestones within 10 laps of each stint.

Fernando Alonso, Retired lap 13, fuel pump
Nelson Piquet, P12

Alonso sped into the distance at the start as he exploited his 20 kg fuel advantage from qualifying, but was being reeled in by Hamilton when he refuelled on lap 12. Then his right front wheel fell off after the team failed to secure it properly, leading to the one-race suspension that the stewards imposed post race. He retired with fuel pump issues soon after. Piquet ran quite strongly early on and made up places before encountering the inevitable traffic.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, P14
Adrian Sutil, Retired lap 1, overheating

After Nurburgring, Force India came down to earth with a bump. Fisichella struggled for grip in the first stint but said the balance improved in the second and third as he pushed hard to fight Barrichello and Kubica. Sutil retired on the opening lap with incurable overheating.

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari, P15
Sebastien Buemi, P16

Rookie Jaime Alguersuari achieved his goal of finishing, and has still yet to spin an F1 car. He frequently lapped at Buemi’s pace at key points of the race, and made it home despite struggling physically for the last five laps. Buemi spun twice and admitted that he made a lot of errors. Overall, however, the team felt they made progress with the new Red Bull Silverstone update package.