F1: Hungarian Grand Prix live blog

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, August 3rd, 2008

 
 

This weekend’s race is McLaren’s to lose – can they manage it?

After a nail-biting middle sector in the German Grand Prix, during which Lewis Hamilton’s team ordered him to stay out under the safety car while all around were pitting, he managed to regain his lost lead.

The team came in for a fair bit of flak for the poverty of its tactical thinking, however all that was swept aside when Hamilton went on to win thanks to outstanding pace and driving – and managed to put his car on pole at the Hungaroring, with team-mate Heikki Kovalainen second.

A lacklustre Massa, clearly struggling with his car, is third on the grid with BMW’s Robert Kubica beside him. Toyota’s Timo Glock is a surprise third-row starter in fifth, and next to him is an uncannily inconspicuous Kimi Raikkonen.

The Hungaroring traditionally favours the people on the clean side of the grid – and that could make for a really interesting start with plenty of pressure on Kovalainen and a good chance of Massa shooting straight past him.

And will race engineer Chris Dyer remember to put fresh batteries in Raikkonen’s remote control a bit earlier today?

Elsewhere on the grid, both David Coulthard and Jenson Button have qualified well – Jense in particular finding more than a second during his Q2 lap at the venue where he scored his only grand prix win.

Stick with us, and make sure you don’t miss a moment. Keep hitting refresh to get the latest, don’t forget you can comment on this post, and you can also email us.

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Post-race Hamilton quotes: “I think I salvaged the best of the worst, I guess. What can you do when you have a puncture? Last year I lost the championship on punctures, so it’s nothing new to me.

“[Massa] just did a better job, got a better run on me, so it was better to play it safe than be sorry.”

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Points from this race:

  1. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren: 10 points
  2. Timo Glock, Toyota: 8 points
  3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: 6 points
  4. Fernando Alonso, Renault: 5 points
  5. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren: 4 points
  6. Nelson A Piquet, Renault: 3 points
  7. Jarno Trulli, Toyota: 2 points
  8. Robert Kubica, BMW: 1 point

Drivers’ championship:

  1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren: 62 points
  2. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari: 57 points
  3. Felipe Massa, Ferrari: 54 points
  4. Robert Kubica, BMW: 49
  5. Nick Heidfeld, BMW: 41
  6. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren: 38 points
  7. Jarno Trulli, Toyota: 22 points
  8. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 18 points
  9. Mark Webber, Red Bull: 18 points
  10. Timo Glock, Toyota: 13 points
  11. Nelson Piquet, Renault: 13 points
  12. Rubens Barrichello, Honda: 11 points
  13. Nico Rosberg, Williams: 8 points
  14. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams: 8 points
  15. David Coulthard, Red Bull: 6 points
  16. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 6 points
  17. Jenson Button, Honda: 3 points
  18. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso: 2 points

Constructors’ championship:

  1. Ferrari: 111 points
  2. McLaren: 100 points
  3. BMW Sauber: 90 points
  4. Toyota: 35 points
  5. Renault: 31 points
  6. Red Bull: 24 points
  7. Williams: 16 points
  8. Honda: 14 points
  9. Toro Rosso: 8 points
  10. Force India: 0 points

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Lap 70: Glock now has six seconds on Raikkonen – Ferrari really aren’t taking any risks with that car. What a brilliant result for the travelling Finns – both their men on the podium. Kovalainen takes his first win – the seventh different winner in seven years. Glock confirmed second, Raikkonen third, then Alonso, Hamilton a second and a half behind him.

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Lap 69: Glock’s been elevated to second, Raikkonen’s now on the podium in third and Hamilton’s up for four points for fifth place. Raikkonen’s backing right off from Glock – presumably the team telling him to save the engine at all costs. Hamilton and Alonso just 1.7 seconds apart.

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Lap 68: Unbelievably, Massa’s car has let go and rolled to a halt! He hasn’t even had time to pull to the side of the track. Looks like his engine’s gone bang. We like Massa a lot here at Brits on Pole, and this is a tragedy for him. But Kovalainen, unsung hero of the afternoon, is now about to win his first ever Grand Prix.

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Lap 67: Damon Hill is advising Timo Glock to stick to the racing line like glue, and to make Raikkonen “go the long way round”.

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Lap 66: Sutil’s had to retire. Force India did a very good job to get him out again after that exploding tyre/brake incident. Raikkonen has lost ground on this lap.

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Lap 65: Glock is lapping a Honda, Raikkonen’s up with him. Five laps to go.

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Lap 64: Glock lead down to two seconds and Hamilton risking the handful of points he does have by pushing those tyres.

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Lap 63: Raikkonen has taken another second and a half out of Glock – he’s 2.83 seconds ahead. Surely the overtake can’t be far in coming. Hamilton is in sixth, around three seconds behind Alonso and struggling to catch him. His lengthy super-soft tyre run is stretching into the realms of the untested. Can he even finish the race?

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Lap 62: Glock now only just over four seconds up the road from Raikkonen, poor sod. There goes his podium. And the mysterious sabotage of backmarker drivers continues after Sutil’s brakes explode at 180mph. Fortunately he has avoided a big shunt and brought the Force India back under control in the run-off area.

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Lap 61: Glock’s lead over Raikkonen is 5.9 seconds. It transpires that Bourdais was actually set on fire twice during refuelling. We know he’s not put in a stellar performance, but that’s a bit much, Dietrich Mateschitz…

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Lap 60: Glock’s under huge and unenviable pressure from Raikkonen. DC is pushing Heidfeld in hopes of a sneaky overtake for 11th place.

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Lap 58: Order is Massa, Kovalainen, Glock, Raikkonen, Alonso, Hamilton, Piquet, Trulli, Kubica, Webber, Heidfeld, Coulthard, Button, Rosberg, Fisi, Nakajima, Sutil, Barrichello, Bourdais, Vettel (retd).

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Lap 56: Piquet comes out racing with Trulli. Trulli has the momentum, Piquet has the line. He drives defensively, sends the Italian wide and holds the place. They were fighting for sixth and seventh, however Raikkonen is now fourth. Dyer’s reached down the back of the sofa and found the remote. Ferrari one-two, anyone?

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Lap 55: Raikkonen has picked up three and a half seconds having been freed from behind Alonso. He’s the fastest man on track. Piquet has pitted.

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Lap 54: Trulli pits again. Barrichello, right at the back of the field, is fighting fellow fire victim Kazuki Nakajima.

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Lap 53: Glock, in third, is told that he’s racing Hamilton, 19 seconds and several places down the road behind him. Order is Massa, Kovalainen, Glock, Piquet, Trulli, Raikkonen, Alonso, Kubica, Hamilton.

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Lap 52: Raikkonen pits – can he beat Alonso out? Yes – that could also change the complexion of this race a bit. He comes out in sixth, a net fifth place.

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Lap 51: Hamilton laps Nakajima – don’t faint with the excitement of it all.

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Lap 50: Alonso pits, first to blink in the battle with Raikkonen. Kubica has also pitted.

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Lap 49: Bridgestone is scrutinising Hamilton’s tyre and says first indications are debris rather than heavy driving by Hamilton. Raikkonen loses his back end, runs wide but hangs on to his place, despite losing a lot of ground to Alonso.

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Lap 48: Kovalainen has pitted and rejoins behind the Alonso/Raikkonen battle. Glock has also come in, and looks to be behind him.

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Lap 46: Order at the moment is Kovalainen, Massa, Glock, Alonso, Raikkonen, Piquet, Trulli, Kubica and Hamilton.

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Lap 45: Glock, in third, looks to be on for a podium. Massa currently behind Kovalainen who has a 4.4 second lead. Of course, the Finn has yet to stop.

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Lap 44: Hamilton, that driver who is notoriously hard on tyres, now has to do 27 laps on super-soft tyres. Ferrari is out for a pit-stop. This would give Massa a six-point lead in the championship. The Ferrari takes advantage of his lead over Kovy and pits. Soft tyres and probably fuelled to the finish now.

– – – – –

Lap 43: Due to Heidfeld on a one-stopper, Hamilton is showing ninth. Massa has a 23-second gap to Kovalainen.

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Lap 42: Soft tyres and a big heap of fuel for Hamilton. He comes out side by side with DC, races wheel to wheel with the Scot, beats him and is now in 11th, fuelled to the end of the race. Two questions – did Hamilton make a mistake under pressure? And does McLaren’s decision not to change his tyres on that first stop now look very poor?

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Lap 41: That’s it for Hamilton – a puncture has sent him wide and off the track. He’s having to limp back to the pits for a repair. Kovalainen is now second, and it’s up to him to challenge Massa.

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Lap 40: Massa puts a full second on his lead while he and Hamilton lap Button. Lead currently 5.013 seconds and signs of fluster from McLaren.

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Lap 39: Order is Massa, Hamilton, Kovalainen, Glock, Alonso, Raikkonen, Piquet, Trulli, Kubica, Webber, Heidfeld, DC, Button, Nakajima, Fisi, Rosberg, Button, Sutil, Barrichello, Vettel (retd).

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Lap 38: Hamilton has reduced Massa’s lead to 3.7 seconds – it seems likely that the team’s been on the radio telling him to keep his foot down. Then Massa answers with another very fast lap. Trulli has leapfrogged Kubica, who is having a bad race in front of his home fans, and Webber.

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Lap 37: In the pits Nick Fry says his Honda team is mystified by Barrichello’s incident, and wonders whether the high temperatures have caused the fuel to expand, and stay in the nozzle, causing the problem.

– – – – –

Lap 35: Roughly at the half-way mark now. Massa’s lead is currently 4.01 seconds.

– – – – –

Lap 34: Barrichello comes in and has a disastrous stop – fuelling rig problems for him too. Shortly afterwards Nakajima experiences a refuelling fire. Questions Will Be Asked.

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Lap 33: Bourdais, his car covered in foam, looks like he’s been the victim of a pitlane practical joke. Presumably something has caught fire and been extinguished. He comes out 17th ahead of Fisichella.

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Lap 31: Damon Hill is telling James Allen how you never get racing out of your system: “I feel like I was back in the car.” Allen: “Do you wish you were?” Hill: “It’s nice and cool in this commentary box.”

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Lap 30: DC finally pits, comes out racing wheel-to-wheel with Rubens Barrichello, and robustly defends for 13th. Something appears to be broken on his rear suspension but it doesn’t appear to be causing the team undue concern.

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Lap 28: Apparently Sebastian Vettel has retired, although no immediate clue why. Oh, here we go. An overheating engine, and subsequent damage, was uncovered on his pitstop.

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Lap 27: Kubica has dropped back in the pitstops. Order is Massa, Hamilton, Kovalainen, Glock, DC (no stop), Alonso, Raikkonen, Piquet, Trulli and Kubica.

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Lap 26: Piquet narrowly misses taking Raikkonen coming out of the pits. His late pitstop has helped him. Now Kimi’s in a Renault sandwich. Massa’s lead currently 2.7 seconds, and Hamilton is thought to be planning to swoop by staying out longer on the second stops.

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Lap 24: Phew. After all that, the order is Massa (lead 3.3 sec), Hamilton, Piquet (no stop) Kovalainen.

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Lap 23: Leaders are lapping some poor sod of a Toro Rosso. Raikkonen, and thus Hamilton, get held up – but then Raikkonen pits, giving Hamilton the run he needs. Alonso has held his place from Raikkonen in the pit stops, but both seem fuelled quite light. Raikkonen’s trying his best to pass but doesn’t appear to have the speed.

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Lap 22: Kovalainen pits. Speculation that McLaren doesn’t have the expected speed advantage over Ferrari. Kovy is fuelled long, hard tyres. Comes out behind Piquet.

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Lap 21: Glock pits for a really long stop. Hamilton is thought to have fuelled a bit longer than Massa. People seem to be gearing up for a very long middle stint.

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Lap 20: Hamilton has a longer stop than Massa, who gets past him before he can get out of the pit lane. No tyre change, and Kovalainen is leading the race. Hamilton is behind Alonso and Raikkonen – which means the Finn has the ability to hold him up…

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Lap 19: Kubica in, Hamilton is leading the race. He has to really put his foot down now. Kubica’s stop nearly 10 secs long. Webber has also pitted. Massa comes out in fourth – ahead of Raikkonen. Hamilton pits.

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Lap 18: Pit stop window approaching. Don’t let the excitement kill you. Both Ferrari and McLaren have crews out. BMW crew out too. Massa comes in right at the start of lap 19 for an 8.2 sec stop. Hard tyres go on.

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Lap 17: Massa’s lead has fluctuated a bit but it’s around three and a half seconds. Nick Fry is on, making the excuse that Jenson Button was a) compromised by being on the dirty side of the grid and b) stuck behind Nick Heidfeld. Just a thought, but perhaps it’s got more to do with his crap car?

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Lap 16: Massa still diligently putting down fastest laps – 1:21.414 is his best effort so far. Order has not changed since lap 2. Hamilton’s fastest has been 1:21.292 compared to the 1 min 20.899 that got him on pole.

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Lap 15: Glock is pulling away from Kubica to the tune of about eight seconds. That’s not in the script. What did they do to him in that German hospital?
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Lap 14: The most exciting thing the ITV cameraman can find to film is some women in the Red Bull garage – tells you all you need to know about the racing. Massa’s lead is 3.09 seconds.

– – – – –

Lap 13: Massa’s lead is currently 2.8 seconds.

– – – – –

Lap 12: Massa is said to have a clear advantage in the middle sector. This, according to people in the know, lends support to the theory that the Ferrari pilot is running light. Renault, by contrast, apparently fear that Raikkonen is fuelled heavy.

– – – – –

Lap 11: Raikkonen slowly catching Alonso for sixth place – but doesn’t appear to be in a hurry. 0.7 seconds between those two. If this battle catches fire it could easily become the most interesting thing on the track.

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Lap 9: Hamilton’s and Massa’s lap times pretty close. Damon Hill says that he would expect Hamilton to be pushing Massa for all he’s worth and comments that the Brazilian seems to be able to stay just clear of him: “I think we’re seeing the actual pace of both these cars.”

– – – – –

Lap 8: As you were, the Hungaroring is so far fulfilling its promise of a processional race. All the cars in the front slots on the dirty side of the grid lost places, as predicted. Massa’s lead currently 2.2 seconds on Hamilton and more than 7 seconds on Kovalainen.

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Lap 4: McLaren are claiming Massa is lighter-fuelled. Commentators agree that he looks to be building a lead with the expectation of pitting early. To do that, remember, he’ll need about 25 seconds for a full pitstop. A splash of fuel, maybe a bit less.

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Lap 3: Order is Massa, Hamilton, Kovalainen, Glock, Kubica, Alonso, Raikkonen, Webber, Trulli, Piquet, Coulthard, Heidfeld, Button, Barrichello, Vettel, Bourdais, Rosberg, Nakajima, Fisichella and Sutil. No retirements yet!

– – – – –

Lap 2: Jenson Button’s lost places. Massa is starting to build up a bit of a lead – but can he hold it? Damon Hill describes his move as “the perfect overtaking manoeuvre”. Shots of a jubilant Ferrari garage.

– – – – –

Lap 1: We’re off and Massa has gone straight past both McLarens. Hamilton tries to take him back and can’t. Kovalainen hangs on to third. Glock’s got himself up to fourth, taking Kubica. DC runs wide but hangs on. Raikkonen loses a place to Alonso, as it was predicted he might. Excitement from both Piquet and Vettel who, in trying to make up places, lose them.

– – – – –

Parade lap: there’s a really palpable sense of excitement and tension at the start of this race – much more so than there has been for a while, in our opinion. Tales from the commentary box of how Hamilton kept the other drivers standing about at the beginning of the drivers’ parade just as Schumacher used to – is he trying to play mind games with them?

Coulthard in 13th is starting on a softer tyre compound. Track temperature is 44 degrees, air temperature 29 degrees, and high humidity.

– – – – –

Grid: Aussie Chris Dyer, Ferrari race engineer, says the plan is “to overtake as many people as possible on the first corner and keep going.” Apart from that, he says, there isn’t much of a plan…

Nick Fry is interviewed saying that he hopes tyre strategy might give Honda a few crumbs of hope. Is it us, or does this not sound wholly convincing?

Ted Kravitz suggests to Martin Whitmarsh that Hamilton and Kovalainen could take each other off at the first corner in a nightmare scenario for his McLaren team. He’s treated to a lecture on how the guys are really far more sensible than that. We hope…

Mark Webber tells Louise Goodman that “it’s not the most exciting grand prix for drivers” – lack of overtaking opportunities and the need for intense concentration on the twisting track being the reasons for this.

– – – – –

Pre-race: Hill meets Hamilton on camera. Hill suitably self-effacing, Hamilton suitably respectful. What else would you expect from a couple of Brits?

Blimey! Mike Conway on the telly following his win on the new Valencia street circuit in a GT car. Not something you see every weekend…

Huge travelling support from Finland for Kimi Raikkonen and Heikki Kovalainen, as you might expect. However this year there’s also a huge Polish contingent cheering on Robert Kubica – some reports say that as many of a third of the tickets were sold in that country.

Jenson Button’s his usual relaxed and optimistic self, pleased with his qualifying performance and saying that, although the race will probably be tough, he’s got faith in his improving car.

Martin Brundle’s off on his summer hols and Damon Hill is in the commentary box for ITV. Plenty of interesting insights from him during qualifying yesterday, so he should be a good addition to the team.

Lewis Hamilton interviewed by Steve Rider yesterday evening: “Last year this was one of the toughest weekends in terms of everything going on in the team… I reallty feal so pleased for the team, they have worked so hard, and to have Heikki alongside me is great.” He said that he had positive memories from last year’s race, which was very fast and controlled.

“The reality is that it will be a tough race and anything could happen. In no way am I sitting here thinking tomorrow could be a breeze.”

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