It’s the last outing for the Formula 1 teams and drivers before the sport takes its summer break. DAVID HOOPER catches up with the action from Germany and looks ahead to the Hungarian GP.
IT may be less than a week since the exciting finish to the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, but this weekend the teams are taking to the Hungaroring, in Hungary for the last race before the summer break.
Reigning German world champ Sebastian Vettel will no doubt be licking his wounds after being punished by the stewards in Germany for overtaking Jenson Button with all four wheels off the circuit to finish in second place, with Button coming home in third, behind Spaniard Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari.
For the record, Alonso is quickly becoming my hot tip to take this year’s championship after extending his lead at top of the drivers’ table last weekend. There may still be a long way to go this season, and the Ferrari may not be the best car on the grid, but combine the two, and I reckon they’ll take some catching. Alonso is without question one of the quickest and most consistent drivers in F1 and it’s his 31st birthday on Sunday – I bet he’d like to claim his 31st F1 win on his special day!
However, “that incident” between Vettel and Button resulted in Vettel being handed a time penalty which demoted him to fifth place. Button moved up to second and Kimi Raikkonen in his Lotus moved up to third, although he missed his moment of glory on the podium.
Vettel, therefore, may well feel he has a point to prove this time out, but he really only has himself to blame – Button’s tyres had gone off and he was having to save fuel in the closing laps, so he was pretty much a sitting duck, having driven hard earlier in the race to elevate himself up the field.
In contrast to Button’s resurgence after a dismal few races, his team-mate Hamilton went the other way following a puncture just after the start and ended up being lapped. Trying to un-lap himself not only helped Button, but also frustrated Vettel who was hunting down Alonso for the lead and didn’t take too kindly to Hamilton passing him on fresher tyres – which he was perfectly entitled to do, although intriguingly, he didn’t seem able to make much of an impression on Alonso’s Ferrari.
The McLaren team were pleased with their new aero upgrades which seem to have given the car its mojo back, unlike Mercedes, who are still struggling for race pace, despite qualifying well in wet conditions at Hockenheim.
So, to the Hungaroring, 16 miles north east of Budapest. It’s a little-used circuit and has a reputation for being dusty, and difficult to overtake on.
F1 has changed the rules for this race after a storm of controversy and investigations by the stewards into Red Bull’s engine maps, which were thought to be altering the torque at certain engine speeds, thereby reducing wheelspin under acceleration out of the corners. It’s a hugely complicated and technical issue, but suffice to say, in Hungary, Red Bull will have to manage without it after the FIA closed the loophole by clarifying the wording of a particular regulation.
Michael Schumacher and the Mercedes team will be looking to improve their performance, after the seven-time champion went backwards last weekend, finishing in seventh after starting from third on the grid. It’s unlikely the German ace will be improving upon the lap record he set on this circuit in 2004.
Some good news to finish on – Maria de Villotta, the Spanish test driver who suffered terrible head and facial injuries in a testing crash at Duxford airfield, has now returned home to Spain to continue her recovery and has been discharged from hospital.
• Keep up to date with all the latest F1 news by following our regular reporter Tom Wilkinson on Twitter @TomWilkinsonF1 #TWF1 and don’t miss our race report here at www.wheelworldreviews.co.uk