Thrills, spills, politics, passion -- oh, and a sensational motor race with a debut Grand Prix winner. Has anybody ever seen a better Hungarian Grand Prix?! When is a non-finish still a finish? After scoring three points in his debut Grand...
Thrills, spills, politics, passion -- oh, and a sensational motor race with a debut Grand Prix winner. Has anybody ever seen a better Hungarian Grand Prix?!
When is a non-finish still a finish?
After scoring three points in his debut Grand Prix, Robert Kubica was left pole-axed on Sunday evening by his disqualification after his car was found to be underweight. The result had consequences for the championship as well, because it moved Felipe Massa up to seventh -- and Michael Schumacher to eighth in spite of his late retirement.
As a result, Fernando Alonso's lead in the drivers' championship stands at ten points, and Renault's constructors' lead at seven points. It is the final twist in a rollercoaster weekend, but what does it alter for Renault?
"It doesn't change anything at all for us," explained Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds. "The end result in terms of the points difference is minimal. The pleasure of yesterday's race for the team was that we were able to dominate in all conditions, and that the Renault was the best car out there. Equally, we feel very, very confident that in a dry race, the car would have been extremely competitive, and I am convinced we would have beaten Ferrari. In spite of scoring zero points, that's a very encouraging situation for the next races."
Fernando Alonso was similarly upbeat after his first non-finish since Canada 2005, and his first race out of the points since Hungary last year. "I think this is the most competitive Renault has been all season," commented the World Championship leader. "So when you are in that situation, it's tough to retire because we should have scored some big points on Sunday. But it was a great race, I passed 14 cars in the first twenty laps and really enjoyed myself out there. And when you look at the big picture, we may have had a problem but the performance showed that Renault is up there fighting, and Michelin are doing a great job as well. We can be very confident as we head to Turkey."
When a non-finish is definitely a non-finish
Fernando Alonso retired from the Hungarian Grand Prix on lap 52, immediately following his second and final pit-stop of the race where dry tyres were fitted to his car. As he left the pit-lane, it was evident there was a problem at the right rear, which firstly put him into a spin at turn 1 then ended his race at turn 2. What's more, TV footage showed the wheel nut part company with the axle before Fernando spun. Initial investigations suggested an axle problem had been at fault, but detailed inspection of the damaged parts showed the cause lay elsewhere.
"There is a safety mechanism holding the wheel-nut on, and it did not disengage at the second pit-stop," continues Pat Symonds. "That meant the wheel nut was damaged as it was removed, and did not re-attach correctly as the new wheel went on. The reassuring fact is that this is a simple problem to fix, and doesn't put the exceptional reliability of the R26 in any doubt. We will have a modified solution in place for Turkey."
Three week break? What break?!
The next three weeks offer welcome respite for the drivers, race teams and test teams alike (plus occupants of the media centre!), but don't think that because some of us are on holiday that the work is stopping back at the factories. After all, there's a championship to be won! The dynos are still running flat out preparing developments for the RS26 engine, while at Enstone, the wind tunnel is running 24 hours a day churning out new developments. And as with many aero parts, they don't need the approval stamp of track testing before going on the car -- which means the R26 will benefit from a further package in Turkey.
"We have got another strong package of aero updates coming for Turkey," concluded Symonds. "There was a big update in Hockenheim, which started to show its worth this weekend, and much more is coming. It's a real tribute to the people back at Enstone and Viry, that the rate of development has been so competitive this year. We said before Germany that the balance of power often swings back and forth in August, and we saw a perfect example of it last weekend in Hungary. We want to make sure we keep the advantage in Istanbul, and every member of the Renault team is pushing very hard to make it happen."