After all the controversy of Saturday perhaps the Hungaroring decided there had been enough drama for one weekend, as the race was a mostly sedate event. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton led from pole to flag to take his third win of the season, pressured...
After all the controversy of Saturday perhaps the Hungaroring decided there had been enough drama for one weekend, as the race was a mostly sedate event. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton led from pole to flag to take his third win of the season, pressured but not really threatened all the way by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn got past Nick Heidfeld's BMW Sauber for second at the start and there he stayed, while Heidfeld scored his second podium of 2007 in third.
It was a clean start with Hamilton leading away but Heidfeld lagged off the line a little bit, allowing Raikkonen to take second. That was the top three order set for the afternoon, aside from the pit stops, although Hamilton actually led the whole race. Nico Rosberg's Williams and Ralf Schumacher's Toyota had a little argy-bargy but Rosberg stayed ahead in fourth.
Fernando Alonso's McLaren lost a place initially, running wide and permitting the second BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica to take sixth. Alonso settled into seventh, followed by Mark Webber's Red Bull, while Heikki Kovalainen had a good start to get up a couple of places to ninth. David Coulthard's Red Bull rounded out the early top 10. Jarno Trulli's Toyota, which was eighth on the grid, dropped to 12th.
Alonso lost another place when he went wide again, to Webber, but managed to take it back again shortly afterwards up the inside of turn one. The Spaniard then homed in on Kubica and dispatched him in similar efficient fashion. Yet once he had regained his original starting place of sixth, Alonso seemed to get bogged down and not make any further progress for quite some time.
Meanwhile, further down the field, Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault was up to 11th and Anthony Davidson's Super Aguri to 13th behind Trulli. Then came the Williams of Alex Wurz and the second Super Aguri of Takuma Sato. Ferrari's Felipe Massa, who was hampered in qualifying by a fuel miscalculation, had dropped from 14th to 16th , while the Toro Rossos of Tonio Liuzzi and Sebastian Vettel were 17th and 18th.
It was a miserable start for Honda. Jenson Button, winner of this race last year, was 19th and Rubens Barrichello was 21st behind the Spyker of Adrian Sutil. Spyker newcomer Sakon Yamamoto rounded off the pack in 22nd. However, it was a short-lived race for Yamamoto as he spun off into the barrier after a few laps.
At the front Hamilton had widened the gap to Raikkonen to over four seconds and Heidfeld was dropping back in third. Alonso was close on Schumacher's Toyota but not getting past, which was presumably not quite as painful as being stuck behind a Super Aguri, which Massa was. Alonso was the first to pit, along with Heidfeld and Rosberg and the McLaren was evidently going for a long middle stint.
Heidfeld looked set for a three-stopper, which duly turned out to be the case. Hamilton and Raikkonen pitted soon afterwards and retained formation, and they were on two-stoppers. Raikkonen had closed slightly on Hamilton, while Kovalainen was up to fourth behind Heidfeld but took his first stop shortly afterwards. The gap between Hamilton and Raikkonen was now about a second.
Alonso was still having the odd off-track wander but keeping it pointing in the right direction, while Massa got up to 12th before he stopped for the first time. He rejoined in front of Hamilton, which for a short period put the McLaren in a Ferrari sandwich, with Raikkonen behind. Massa soon had to cede to the blue flags and dutifully got out of the way without too much delay.
Button appeared to be struggling with his Honda and was lapping comparatively slowly, then pulled off to retire. The team later confirmed it was an engine issue. Heidfeld went back in for his second stop and came out in front of Schumacher and Alonso. Davidson was having quite a good afternoon until Fisichella exited the pits and there was quite robust contact between the cars.
Fisichella continued but Davidson spun and beached on the kerb with damage that put him out and bought out the yellow flags for a while. "I'm not really sure what happened," he said. "I saw Fisi coming out of the pits and I thought I'd given him enough room but we touched. It broke my suspension; I think it was just a racing incident."
Tonio Liuzzi was the third retiree, his Toro Rosso trundling back to the garage with an electrical problem. Heidfeld, Schumacher and Alonso were running nose to tail in third, fourth and fifth but no real challenges were being made and Raikkonen was the first of the front two in for his second stop. Hamilton came in a few laps later and returned once more in the lead.
Alonso followed through the pits and managed to get back out in front of Schumacher, then Heidfeld took his third stop which allowed Kubica into third. But he also had another stop to make so Heidfeld regained the place. Rosberg was holding steady in fourth and Alonso was closing on Heidfeld. Raikkonen was likewise pressuring Hamilton but it never looked like he was going to have a go.
Just a few laps before the end the stewards sent out a note to say that McLaren could not send a representative to the podium to collect the winning constructors' trophy. On Saturday the stewards ruled that McLaren would not be permitted to retain any constructors' championship points from this race as a penalty for what happened in qualifying.
McLaren has appealed the ruling but a date hasn't been set for the hearing so the team points remain provisional until then. That rather deflated McLaren's pleasure in Hamilton's victory, although Ron Dennis was somewhat reserved in his congratulations to the winner -- he also hinted that McLaren may not continue with the appeal. Hamilton drove a focused race without any obvious errors, despite a steering issue.
"The Ferrari was also fast today and during the final laps, Kimi put a lot of pressure on me," he said. "I managed to pull out a slight gap in the first stint but during the last two stints, I had a small problem with the steering on the car. This meant Kimi was able to close on me which made me a little nervous. However the team told me on the radio that everything was OK which meant I was able to push to the very end."
There was a slightly subdued atmosphere afterwards, at least as far as some of the paddock was concerned. There was little interaction between the top three drivers as they waited to go to the podium, until Hamilton suddenly flung an arm round Raikkonen's shoulders and grinned into the television camera. Raikkonen looked rather bemused and didn't respond. Second was the best he could have expected once Hamilton got away.
"It was good to get behind Lewis but it wasn't enough, unfortunately," the Finn said about gaining a place at the start. "The problem really was that we came in on the same lap on the first pit stop and it's really guessing what the other team will do and we didn't get it right. We had enough speed with the same fuel load if we had been behind them, to stay there, even with more so. Unfortunately we got it wrong and we couldn't do anything after that, really."
Heidfeld was very happy with third. It was unfortunate that his slow start lost him a place to Raikkonen but, with all due respect, it was not hugely likely that he could have kept the Ferrari behind him anyway. But he drove a good, consistent race and BMW's lap pace was not too far off the leaders, although Heidfeld was eventually three quarters of a minute down.
"This was a superb race for me," the German stated. "I was on the podium for the second time this year, and podiums were on our 'to do' list for this season. I had a bad start on the dirty side of the track and lost a place to Kimi Raikkonen, but anyway both Lewis Hamilton and he have clearly been faster today, so a better start would not have changed much. I had some difficulties with the second and third sets of tyres and it was not easy to race against a 'ghost'. Of course I knew I was racing Fernando Alonso but, due to the different strategies, he wasn't visible to me."
Teammate Kubica made up a couple of positions during the afternoon and took the chequered flag in fifth, with Alonso separating the two BMWs in fourth. The Spaniard got close to thinking about challenging Heidfeld for the last podium place but really damage limitation was the best he could hope for. He was close behind the BMW near the end but, like Raikkonen, was never quite near enough to his rival.
Schumacher got Toyota into the points again with sixth but Trulli never really recovered from his loss of positions at the start and was 10th. Rosberg's strategy didn't work out too well and he was seventh at the flag but it was still a good effort by the Williams youngster. Teammate Wurz was overshadowed by Rosberg this weekend and ended 14th.
Kovalainen managed to pick up the last point in eighth but it was frustration for Red Bull as Webber and Coulthard, who both started in the top 10, were ninth and 11th. Massa trailed home an equally frustrated 13th, while the sole remaining Super Aguri of Sato was 14th. Vettel managed 16th on his Toro Rosso debut and Sutil was 17th. Barrichello probably wanted to forget this weekend as he was last.
The results mean that Hamilton has stretched his lead over Alonso in the standings to seven points and Raikkonen has moved in front of Massa again for third overall, 20 points off Hamilton. Massa is only one point behind his teammate so it's still fairly open. But time is running out, with six races to go after the three week summer break.
The break will likely be welcomed by everyone. The past several weeks have been fraught with tensions; McLaren against Ferrari, both on and off the track, driver against driver and now even drivers in the same team seeming intent on stitching each other up, with the result that the team is threatened with losing valuable points because of it.
It's not been a pleasant atmosphere and it's a shame that such a close fought championship is being marred by all the controversies. A cooling off period seems like a good idea but none of the stories are by any means over yet. Final top eight classification: Hamilton, Raikkonen, Heidfeld, Alonso, Kubica, Schumacher, Rosberg, Kovalainen.