Sunday, August 5, 2007

Hungarian Grand Prix 2007

Lewis Hamilton drove a copybook race to win a close battle with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Englishman led from start to finish but the McLaren driver was pushed hard throughout the race by the Finn.

But Hamilton stayed cool in the face of intense pressure in the closing laps to extend his championship lead over team-mate Fernando Alonso to seven.

The world champion was fourth after being dropped to sixth on the grid for delaying Hamilton in qualifying.

Alonso spent the last 12 laps right behind the BMW Sauber of Nick Heidfeld, but despite fighting hard was unable to pass the German.

Heidfeld's team-mate Robert Kubica was fifth, with Toyota's Ralf Schumacher, Red Bull's Mark Webber and Williams's Nico Rosberg filling the final points positions.

Hamilton looked comfortable in the first stint of the race, quickly building a lead of three seconds and holding it there as he and Raikkonen pushed their cars to the edge.

But after the two men came in for fuel and tyres together on lap 19 Raikkonen began to close in on Hamilton, and by lap 27 the Ferrari was just a second behind the McLaren.

On a track where overtaking is notoriously difficult, though, Raikkonen was never close enough to pass and the Ferrari driver's hopes faded when he came in for his final stop before Hamilton, on lap 46.

Hamilton did not make his stop for another three laps, but was still not able to break free of Raikkonen's challenge.

The Ferrari again closed to less than a second behind Hamilton, but again the McLaren star held his nerve to take his third win of the season.

Hamilton said: "It's been an eventful weekend and quite emotional for all the team.

"With all the drama that has gone on over the weekend, it would have been easy to lose focus. It's been a bit of a downer for the team.

"It was one of the hardest races I've ever had. Just to get the points is so important for me and for the morale of the team. We've shown that we can beat anyone.

"We made a really good step forward with a great package but we still weren't sure whether we'd be ahead of the Ferraris. You could see in the race they had great pace.

"Kimi was on my tail for quite a long time, he drove a great race. But I know how to win races."

Raikkonen fell to 20 points behind Hamilton with just 60 still available in the remaining six Grands Prix.

But he said he had not given up hope of winning the title.

"There are many races to go," Raikkonen said. "One bad race and everything can change.

"It was kind of a boring race, just waiting behind (Hamilton), waiting for something to happen.

"When two cars are very close the guy in front has to make a big mistake for you to pass."

Alonso's actions in qualifying have increased the tensions within McLaren, with Hamilton saying after the race: "He doesn't seem to have been speaking to me since yesterday, so I don't know if he has a problem."

Alonso spent much of the race stuck behind the Toyota of Ralf Schumacher.

The Spaniard finished the first lap in eighth place after being blocked by Williams's Nico Rosberg as he attempted to make up places at the start, and then sliding wide at the last corner.

Alonso passed Red Bull's Mark Webber and Kubica on consecutive laps to move up to sixth by lap three.

But, his car's aerodynamics hampered by following the Toyota, Alonso could not get past the German before their first pit stops for tyres and fuel on lap 17 of 70.

Alonso was given a heavy fuel load, the plan being for him to do a long middle stint and leapfrog some of the slower cars in front of him during the first pit stops.

Even so, he quickly closed in on Schumacher, but again the McLaren was unable to pass - and only got a clear track when the Toyota came in for its final stop on lap 48.

Alonso pitted on the next lap, and emerged comfortably ahead of Schumacher in sixth place.

Suddenly, though, he was in contention for a podium place, when the cars of Heidfeld, Kubica and Rosberg came in for their third stops - one more than used by McLaren and Ferrari.

Alonso leapfrogged Kubica and Rosberg in the pits, and Heidfeld emerged not far in front of the Spaniard, a gap Alonso quickly reduced to almost nothing.

Alonso tried everything to pass, but Heidfeld managed to hang on.

"It's a lost opportunity because I think this weekend I was faster [than Hamilton]," Alonso said.

"I got pole and today when I was in clean air I was very fast, so I think I could have won, but it was not to be. In three weeks there's another race and I'll try again."

Hungarian Grand Prix result after 70 laps of Hungaroring:

1. Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes one hour 35 minutes 52.991 seconds
2. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari +0.715 secs
3. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber +43.129
4. Fernando Alonso (Spa) McLaren-Mercedes +44.858
5. Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber +47.616
6. Ralf Schumacher (Ger) Toyota +50.669
7. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Toyota +59.139
8. Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Renault +1:08.104
9. Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault +1:16.331
10. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota one lap behind
11. David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull-Renault 1 lap
12. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Renault 1 lap
13. Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 1 lap
14. Alexander Wurz (Aut) Williams-Toyota 1 lap
15. Takuma Sato (Jpn) Super Aguri-Honda 1 lap
16. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1 lap
17. Adrian Sutil (Ger) Spyker-Ferrari 2 laps
18. Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda 2 laps
R Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 52 laps completed R Anthony Davidson (GB) Super Aguri-Honda 51 laps
R Jenson Button (GB) Honda 45 laps
R Sakon Yamamoto (Jpn) Spyker-Ferrari 4 laps

Key: R = retired

Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen, 1:20.047, lap 70.

taken from

Hamilton triggered pit controversy

Alonso making back a lap from the fuel burn phase...

More than four hours after the incident at the end of Hungarian GP qualifying, the Fernando Alonso versus Lewis Hamilton pit stop controversy is still sizzling.

Pole sitter Alonso, under investigation from the stewards, told Spanish publications including the newspaper Marca that the intricate timing of McLaren's qualifying strategy got out of sequence because Hamilton ignored an instruction from the pit wall.

Team boss Ron Dennis, who was visibly angry despite seeing his cars qualify first and second, confirmed the news to reporters in Budapest.

"Lewis should have slowed and let Fernando past," Dennis said. "And he didn't. He charged off."

But Alonso has threatened to widen the tension with his British teammate and team even further by speculating as to why so many long faces could be seen in McLaren overalls after qualifying.

"Because I am first and Hamilton is second," he told Marca. "This is something that is very hard for me to say, but that is what I see.

Alonso added that Hamilton had been asked during the 'Q3' phase on Saturday to let him past, "but he did not do it," the Spaniard said.

"That was the only problem within the team today. The annoyance of Dennis and the annoyance of everyone was because Hamilton did not accept an order that was repeated to him on the radio five or six times," Alonso added.

After Hamilton's radio order refusal, Alonso said the pit stop delay was to rectify the fact that he had lost a lap in the crucial 'fuel burn' phase.

Apparently... However it is not clear why that is relevant in terms of qualification ‘blocking’, which traditionally earns a penalty...

Source GMM

taken from

Todt turned down offer to solve spy crisis

Dennis busy protecting his racers from media distractions...

Ron Dennis on Saturday said his Ferrari counterpart Jean Todt turned down an offer to settle the espionage scandal away from the courts.

The Spanish news agency EFE quoted the McLaren CEO, Chairman and Team Principal as confirming that he had spoken to Todt in recent days to also investigate ways to resolve the dispute away from the circus of public spotlight. Ferrari 'did not want' to explore those avenues, Dennis said.

He also explained that he barred drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton from media engagements in Budapest on Thursday to protect them.

Asked specifically about Alonso's cancelled attendance at the official FIA press conference, Dennis said: "It's a shooting gallery. If Fernando had gone, all the questions about the spy issue would have been a considerable distraction for him.

"I try to be a good head of this team and I believe that I have dealt with this subject in an appropriate way."

Mercedes Benz's head of competition Norbert Haug also confirmed that the cancelled media dates were to 'reduce the pressure' on Alonso and his team-mate.

"Ron Dennis thought this was the best thing to do and so that is what we did," the German told the Spanish newspaper Marca. "Of course there are discussions about what we decide, and if we are criticised for that, we will have to live with it."

Source GMM
CAPSIS International

taken from

Alonso stripped of the Hungarian Pole - Update 4

Lewis Hamilton will replace Fernando Alonso on pole position for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix after a stewards' investigation into a qualifying incident between the McLaren teammates.

McLaren have also been pre-emptively stripped of any constructors championship points they might earn from the race.

FIA officials were moved to investigate the chain of events which saw Alonso claim pole position after waiting in front of Hamilton in the pits for 30 seconds ahead of the pair's final qualifying runs.

The delay meant that when Hamilton returned to the track he did not have enough time to respond to Alonso's final quick lap.

After a marathon deliberation, the FIA stewards found Alonso and McLaren guilty of acting improperly in holding up Hamilton.

McLaren explained that they held Alonso in the pits for twenty seconds with Hamilton waiting behind because they were waiting for Alonso to have an opportunity of a traffic-free lap.

Mindful of the fact that there was only one car on the track at the time in question the FIA stewards dismissed the explanation.

"The actions of the team in the final minutes of qualifying are deemed prejudicial to the interests of the competition and to the interests of motor sport generally," said the stewards in a statement addressed to McLaren boss Ron Dennis.

Also swept aside was Alonso's feeble excuse that he waited in front of Hamilton for a further ten seconds because he was checking whether the correct tyres had been fitted to his car.

"The stewards find that he (Alonso) unnecessarily impeded another driver, Hamilton, and as a result he will be penalised by a loss of five grid positions," added the statement.

Alonso's punishment cannot be reversed but McLaren have made it known that they plan to appeal against their constructors points penalty. They have until Tuesday to state their case.

Championship leader Hamilton will now be joined on the front row of the grid by BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld with Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen moving up to third place. Nico Rosberg will now be fourth on the grid for Williams with Ralf Schumacher of Toyota fifth ahead of Alonso.

Earlier Saturday, Dennis had blamed Hamilton for the controversy and claimed the Briton defied team orders. Dennis had said that Alonso was held back by team engineers because of Hamilton upsetting a pre-arranged strategy.

"It's extremely difficult to deal with two such competitive drivers," said Dennis. "There are definite pressures within the team. We make no secret of it. They are both very competitive, and they both want to win, and we are trying our very hardest to balance those pressures."

On Saturday, it had been agreed that Alonso would make the final pit stop before Hamilton, but the 22-year-old championship leader disobeyed team orders by not letting the Spaniard pass him. According to Dennis, the resulting confusion led to the situation where Hamilton did not exit the pits in time to challenge Alonso's late fastest lap.

"They were out of sequence because Lewis should have slowed and let Fernando past. And he didn't. He charged off," said the McLaren chief. "In this instance, it was Fernando's time to get the advantage of the longer fuel burn. The arrangement was, okay, we're down at the end of the pitlane, we reverse positions in the first lap. That didn't occur as arranged. That was somewhat disappointing and caused some tensions on the pitwall."

"We were, from that moment on, out of sequence because the cars were in the wrong place on the circuit and that unfolded into the pit stops. It complicated the situation into the result, which was Lewis not getting his final timed lap."

Hamilton admitted that he did disobey the team orders but he felt that there had still been enough time for both he and Alonso to squeeze in the extra lap.

"I didn't want to mess up my opportunity by changing places or whatever there was to do, and be open to being overtaken by Kimi and losing my place," said the Briton. "Then it would have not allowed me to get an extra lap. So that's why we had the disagreement, because I didn't agree with it and I didn't do what they wanted me to do."

The facts

With 2 minutes 14 seconds remaining of the session, Alonso pulls his McLaren to a halt in the pit lane.

The car is serviced and is dropped off the jacks with 2m 08s remaining. The lollipop is turned to signal ‘get ready’ with 1m 50 sec remaining. Hamilton is now waiting behind. Two seconds later the lollipop is raised to signal to Alonso it is time to go.

After a further 11 seconds, Alonso leaved the pit (1 min 37 sec) allowing Hamilton to take service. Hamilton leaves the pits with 1m 26 remaining and it is too late...

Source AFP

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