In the 150th Grand Prix of his career, Webber became the first driver of the 2010 season to secure four victories – Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and both McLaren drivers all trapped on two wins each – and thus the Australian leads the Championship as Formula 1 hits the summer break, but it was far from easy. Far from easy…
If anything, Webber made it as difficult as possible for himself early on – a poor getaway from 2nd on the grid and Alonso was through, locking the Red Bull driver. Meanwhile poleman Vettel finally got off the line well, launching the German into a commanding lead, but not until he fought off a feisty Alonso in the first two corners.
As the pair headed into turn 1, the Ferrari was slightly ahead, but on the outside around the bend – with the turn in advantage, Vettel kept the lead and maximised his position. The young German then showed his true advantage over Alonso’s Ferrari – with each passing lap, the Red Bull driver extended his lead by around one second per lap and was ten seconds up by lap 12; a frightening show of strength.
Behind the leading trio came the deliberately second Ferrari (Felipe Massa) and the leading McLaren (Lewis Hamilton); neither of whom were having classic weekends. While the McLaren car seemed genuinely slower than the leading contenders up ahead, Massa was simply having a quiet weekend at the track where he nearly lost his life – today it was just his title hopes that were extinguished.
Hamilton started the race with other things on his mind; the Englishman was having his brake discs checked while sitting on the grid, as he felt vibrations on the way to the start / finish straight pre-race. The 2008 World Champion had a bit of a shock off the line too as the Russian Vitaly Petrov beat him into the first corner. His advantage would only last just over one lap, as the McLaren driver dispensed with the Renault soon into lap 2; however Petrov would hold his own and more importantly hold off 6th place Nico Rosberg and even pull away in the opening stint.
Another monster start came from the very rear of the grid – a fired up Kamui Kobayashi lashed his Sauber from 23rd to 16th on the first lap. Admittedly, the Japanese rookie was not in that position through lack of pace – he was penalised five grid spots after qualifying for driving through a red light in the pit lane. Ahead of the Sauber toured the Toro Rosso of Jaime Alguersuari, but not for long unfortunately – on the anniversary of his Grand Prix début, the Ferrari engine in the back of his car gave way and blew itself to bits; two laps over and out.
After five laps, Vettel led from Alonso, Webber, Massa and Hamilton with Petrov, Rosberg (Mercedes), Robert Kubica (Renault) and both Williams (led by fast starting Rubens Barrichello) and that was how it would stay until the 15th tour of the course… then in a flash the race changed its face again.
The camera shot changed, the focus cleared, pinpointing a large clump of debris – for the second consecutive week, Vitantonio Liuzzi damaged his front in first lap contact, yet the broken material clung on for dear life until lap 15, at which point it was finally deposited into the middle of the circuit. Safety car.
One by one, the field rolled into the pitlane – all notions of strategy and intricate mind games deposed in favour of a rush for new tyres and track position. It was too much of a rush for some – as Kubica finished his stop, his lollipop man fed back into traffic, specifically that of Adrian Sutil; there was a sickening crunch as the Force India and Renault locked together sending both into retirement.
The Mercedes garage also had its fair share of calamities – as Rosberg exited his stall, his right rear tyre loosened its grip on the hub and flew into a sea of mechanics. As a number of Sauber personnel jumped away from the errant wheel, Williams crewman Nigel Hope was not as lucky and was struck by the flying tyre – Hope escaped with lots of bruising and cuts, but was otherwise unhurt and was back in the pitlane later in the race.
Two drivers to take immediate advantage were Vettel and Jenson Button – the Englishman had pitted from 14th place not long before the safety rolled out, while the race leader dived very late into the slow lane before he could be picked up.
Curiously, both Webber and Rubens Barrichello stayed out – risky strategies for both… the Australian at this point heading up Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton and Massa as Barrichello lead Petrov, Nico Hulkenberg, Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber) and Button behind him.
This should have been easy for Vettel – stay behind his yet to stop team mate and swallow the lead when he goes for tyres, but in a year when the Red Bulls seem determined to make life hard, Vettel blundered once again. On the lap when the safety car was about to pull, Vettel dropped well behind his team mate – too far in fact and incurred a drive through penalty as a result; as the green flag flew again on lap 18, both Red Bull’s needed to extend their wings.
Out front, Webber instantly gets on it and begins pulling away by one second per lap – even Vettel can’t get close to the pace of his team mate and so began one of the most stunning drives since… well, Mark Webber at Silverstone…
By lap 21, the Australian veteran led by 5.7 seconds and the Red Bull driver continued to pull out a gap over the second place man; a lead that would extend even further when Vettel took his penalty on the 32nd lap. As a clearly seething Vettel emerged from his drive through, he had built up enough of a gap to beat the second Ferrari out – showcasing both the phenomenal speed of the Red Bull, as well as the rather lacklustre race Massa was enduring.
Thankfully for Vettel, one of his potential obstacles had been removed a couple of laps previously. After jumping the delayed Felipe Massa during the frantic pit stops, Lewis Hamilton was holding a solid fourth spot until his gear box gave way, retiring the Briton at one-third distance. This had become a damage limitation exercise for the McLaren squad and now all attention was to focus on the struggling Button – still in 9th spot and sandwiched by both Sauber’s.
Up front, with Vettel no longer a factor Webber was running away, but he still had one pit stop to do and ould need at least twenty seconds on Alonso to do it safely. The gap was already 14.3 seconds by lap 33, then 16 seconds a lap later, and then 17.5 two laps later.
With a clear road ahead, this was game on for the Australian. A series of fastest laps saw his lead extend to 20.6 seconds by the lap 40 and with Vettel still stuck behind the Ferrari, the job was very nearly complete. The Red Bull veteran squeezed another four laps out of his soft compound tyres – with backmarkers now faintly in the distance and Alonso 23.7 seconds behind, the time was now and with a smooth stop and a change to Bridgestone’s hard compound tyre, Webber fed back on track with a six second lead on the Spaniard and his red Ferrari. Perfect.
Behind the leading battle – a long way behind in fact, Rubens Barrichello still commanded 5th position having still not pitted and while the Brazilian would ultimately lose a large chunk of positions following his tyre change, the focus was changing to the young man on his tail.
Renault’s Vitaly Petrov had been coming under pressure on the lead-up to the race, with team boss Eric Boullier insisting the Russian driver needed better results if he wanted to keep his seat and in Hungary, Petrov was clearly getting the job done. Nico Hulkenberg was also impressing with his 7th spot for Williams; however the stand out driver (apart from Webber) was that of Kamui Kobayashi. Following his superb start (and a little luck with the safety car), the Sauber driver had made it into the top ten and was matching Button for pace while he was at it – a marvellous job.
However the race was not done yet and with new tyres, Webber simply ran away up front, building a seventeen-second cushion over Alonso by the 53rd lap around; Vettel though refused to give up and pushed the Ferrari non-stop, even to the point that he was running wide off the corners. Nothing was going to stop Webber though – this was his.
While the Alonso and Vettel battle settled into a stalemate, Barrichello found himself with a rather more tasty battle further down the field. As the Williams finally pitted for tyres on lap 56, the Brazilian emerged a couple of seconds shy of the virtually invisible Michael Schumacher. The Mercedes driver, slowing on ageing rubber was reeled in by the Williams driver. From 3 seconds, the gap dropped initially to 2.4 seconds, then 1.9 seconds on lap 61, but then only three-tenths a lap later – game on.
As the old Ferrari team mates sized one another up into the Hungaroring’s only real passing place, Schumacher slammed the door hard again and again; each lap by the seven-times World Champion was unforgiving. Then as the pair crossed the line with five laps to go, Barrichello got a great tow – a fantastic tow in fact and slid down the inside line of the Mercedes; however Schumacher wasn’t done quite yet.
In one of the most shocking displays of poor driving, the former master of Formula 1 squeezed Barrichello closer and closer to the wall until the walls of Barrichello’s Bridgestone’s scrapped the outer pit wall – it was simply one of the most horribly dangerous moves in recent history; a move that would garner Schumacher a ten place grid penalty for Belgium after the race. Not much penance, when some appeared to be calling for a race ban. Defensive driving simply does not get more cynical or disgusting than what Michael Schumacher tried on track today.
It is doubtful that Webber knew anything about it though… or cared for that matter. When lapping the German some laps earlier, his radio message to his crew was “that felt good.”
This race was all about the dominance of both the RB6 and Mark Webber and with another win in the bag, both jumped to top of their respective Championships. Last year, Webber had a brief glance at the title race behind the Brawn’s and Sebastian Vettel; now the Australian truly is in the driving seat. There were huge celebrations for Red Bull – not often do teams celebrate their 100th Grand Prix with a victory.
Behind Webber, Fernando Alonso picked up an excellent 2nd place, only 1.4 seconds ahead of Vettel who managed to register the fastest lap on the final tour around. Felipe Massa secured a silent 4th a long way ahead of the fantastic Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg.
Pedro de la Rosa scored his first points of the season with a seventh place finish, while team mate Kamui Kobayashi crossed the line in 9th spot – the two Sauber’s sandwiched the disappointing Jenson Button in his Mercedes-powered McLaren. The ultra brave Rubens Barrichello picked up the final points position.
Schumacher would finish in 11th position, one lap down on the race winner and not far ahead of Sebastien Buemi and the luckless Vitantonio Liuzzi. All three new teams registered double finishes – the first time that has happened this season.
In the Drivers Championship, Mark Webber has jumped both McLaren’s to lead the title hunt by only four points, while reigning Champion Jenson Button sinks further away from his title retention. Red Bull leapfrog McLaren and remain a long way ahead of Ferrari with Mercedes sitting in 4th in no mans land.
In the end, the 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix was a decent race; more about drivers getting the hammer down as opposed to lots of on track overtaking, but from that aspect it was still fascinating to watch – however it still needed the safety car to kick the race into action. Now Formula 1 takes a much needed four week holiday, but I can see the Schumacher incident rumbling on and on…
Race Rating: 3 out of 5
Hungaroring, Hungarian Grand Prix (Round 12, August 1st)
1 WEBBER Red Bull 70 laps
2 ALONSO Ferrari +17.8s
3 VETTEL Red Bull +19.2s
4 MASSA Ferrari +27.4s
5 PETROV Renault +1m13.1s
6 HULKENBERG Williams +1m16.7s
7 DE LA ROSA Sauber +1 lap
8 BUTTON McLaren +1 lap
9 KOBAYASHI Sauber +1 lap
10 BARRICHELLO Williams +1 lap
11 SCHUMACHER Mercedes +1 lap
12 BUEMI Toro Rosso +1 lap
13 LIUZZI Force India +1 lap
14 KOVALAINEN Lotus +3 laps
15 TRULLI Lotus +3 laps
16 GLOCK Virgin +3 laps
17 SENNA HRT +3 laps
18 DI GRASSI Virgin +4 laps
19 YAMAMOTO HRT +4 laps
20 HAMILTON McLaren +47 laps
21 KUBICA Renault +47 laps
22 ROSBERG Mercedes +55 laps
23 SUTIL Force India +55 laps
24 ALGUERSUARI Toro Rosso +69 laps
|1. Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing||161|
|2. Lewis Hamilton||McLaren||157|
|3. Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing||151|
|4. Jenson Button||McLaren||147|
|5. Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||141|
|6. Felipe Massa||Ferrari||97|
|7. Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||94|
|8. Robert Kubica||Renault||89|
|9. Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||38|
|10. Adrian Sutil||Force India||35|
|11. Rubens Barrichello||Williams||30|
|12. Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber||17|
|13. Vitaly Petrov||Renault||17|
|14. Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India||12|
|15. Nico Hulkenberg||Williams||10|
|16. Sebastien Buemi||Scuderia Toro Rosso||7|
|17. Pedro de la Rosa||Sauber||6|
|18. Jaime Alguersuari||Scuderia Toro Rosso||3|
|1. Red Bull Racing||312|
|4. Mercedes GP||132|
|6. Force India||47|
|9. Scuderia Toro Rosso||10|