Race 11 is the last before the Summer break through August, and takes place at the Hungaroring- the place of Massa’s terrible accident a couple of years ago. Could he overcome his fears and actually get some points? Probably not, is my guess.
Qualifying started on a scorching hot day with, as usual, HRT, Marussia and Caterham getting knocked out in Q1 along with a Torro Rosso. This time, however, it was Vergne that got through to Q2- Ricciardo was knocked out at the last second, leaving the Australian no doubt disappointed considering his recent form in qualifying.
I’ll have to eat my words talking about Q2 though, which saw Massa actually get a better time than team-mate Fernando Alonso. If he’s a bit nervous going round this track that almost took his life, he certainly doesn’t show it. There were other big surprises too though- Schumacher was dead last in 17th, and Webber got pushed out by Bruno Senna and so started in 11th. Both Saubers and the other Mercedes fell out too.
It was disappointing for Di Resta too, once again out-qualified by his team-mate, Nico Hulkenburg. The young German has had very good form indeed recently, a marked change from the under performance at the start of the season.
Q3 saw Hamilton go out early and put in a blinder of a lap- it was back to the early days of the season for him, as he put in a pole position time. He did, however, put in another time that was even faster at the end of the session which confirmed him as the pole sitter- four tenths quicker than Grosjean who recorded a personal best second place on the grid. Button looked shaky, but did eventually improve and get fourth position (although he was disappointed with this, as always blaming the car). Vettel? He did well, getting third. It really was all about Hamilton though, and it looks like Mclaren have finally got a competitive car.
Fernando Alonso meanwhile was disappointing, only getting 6th and narrowly out-performing Massa.
Grid positions (after penalties):
- Di Resta
- de la Rosa
The race itself was pretty uneventful, with the track named by David Coulthard as “Monte Carlo with bigger run off areas” living up to its reputation- there were next to no overtakes. Having said that, Jenson Button immediately pulled a great move on Vettel to move up to 3rd. It was all downhill from there though, as Jenson fell back further and further through some awfuly timed pit-stops that left him behind too much traffic. He ended up 6th, losing two places from his qualifying position.
His team-mate meanwhile was pretty much flawless. The Mclaren strategy was a winning one, and Hamilton executed it perfectly. He stayed ahead the whole race, and whilst Raikkonen troubled him at the end of the race, there was no real danger of losing- he exploited the lack of overtaking points very much to his advantage.
Speaking of Raikkonen, he was my driver of the day. He managed to end up in second, and as aforementioned almost challenged Hamilton for the win. Like Mclaren, Lotus got their strategy perfect and gained so many places through pit-stop timings for Raikkonen whilst simultaneously keeping Grosjean right up there all race (he finished 3rd)- a great and deserved double podium for Lotus.
Further down Vettel dropped off from what looked like a fairly certain podium and finished 4th. Alonso was behind him in 5th and was pretty much silent all race. Senna meanwhile did very well to grab some points, as did Webber despite his poor qualifying on Saturday. Schumacher didn’t finish again in what must now be considered his worst season to date.
- Di Resta
- Ricciardo (lapped)
- Vergne (lapped)
- Kovalainen (lapped)
- Kobayashi (retired, 67 laps)
- Petrov (lapped)
- Pic (lapped)
- Glock (lapped)
- de la Rosa (lapped)
- Karthikeyan (retired, 60 laps)
- Schumacher (retired, 58 laps)
So going in to the mid-season break and everything has gone a bit topsy-turvy again. Mclaren have come back strong and will be very confident come September, as will Lotus. Meanwhile Ferrari- specifically Alonso- and Red Bull may be disappointed with their performance this race. With the table getting ever tighter again all the top teams will be pushing as hard as they can for that coveted World Championship when the next race comes around.
And what a race it is sure to be, as Formula 1 goes to Belgium- it’s the legendary Spa.