Hungary: Hamilton’s Back, Lotus Delivers, Alonso Up
I usually blog when I feel I have an angle to work, or some sort of insight that I feel is a benefit to my readers, all seven of them, or because I just get so riled up that I need to say something. This race however does not provide me with any of the usual reasons to post. But I’m going to anyway.
I suppose I could spend some time on Lewis’s victory and getting himself back in the game. Suffice to say it was a well deserved win and as most of us know who watch Formula One week in and week out, this is the kind of drive that really showcases how talented Lewis is. Fernando has, I think, always considered Lewis as his main rival, above Vettel. I don’t think it has anything to do with his disastrous year at McLaren where, in my opinion, the team favored Lewis over Fernando. I think it is just the simple fact that Fernando knows that as at moment, under any conditions, Lewis, much like himself, can deliver a winning drive from anywhere on the grid. Lewis is one of the best drivers in F1 and will be for some time. There is not now, and never has been, a question of if he will be a multiple world champion, just a question of when. Lewis said after Valencia that he will concentrate on “staying out of trouble” and that is exactly what he did the weekend of the Hungaroring to become the third driver to win more than one race this year.
For this particular race, all the top drivers wanted to go into the summer break with the win. Psychologically it is a huge advantage over your rivals and it must really be a confidence builder not to mention a great way for the team and everyone back at the factory to finish off knowing you can’t amend anything for four weeks. So cheers to McLaren and Lewis for snagging that prize.
I guess I could talk about Lotus, and their double podium, maybe I just will. Lotus, they just won’t give up, and it looked for five laps or so that Kimi was about to overtake Lewis for the win, but the adage in F1 is, “catching up is one thing, passing and making it stick is a whole different proposition.” This was the case for Kimi; he shadowed Lewis but remained in 2nd for the checkered flag with Grosjean coming 3rd. The points for 2nd and 3rd moved Team Lotus to within a single point of 3rd place McLaren in the team standings and sets up what will be an interesting second half of the season for the Constructor’s Trophy. The McLaren has been fast but has also been slow at times, inconsistent. McLaren seem to have sorted out the tire issue and their rear-end troubles, but that could all change. By contrast the Lotus has not ever been the fastest overall (although they do seem to have very good pace at the end of races), but have been very consistent. So the top three teams are going to have to come to grips with Lotus wanting a bigger piece of the pie come Sundays.
I can always talk about Ferrari and Alonso, and since I make no secret about the driver that I like the most, lets do some talking about my man. “Some people seem to forget that we don’t have the fastest car.” This is a quote from the Fernando after the race on Sunday. And so everyone was reminded that even though Ferrari has made some large gains over the last 2 1/2 months their 2012 challenger is still not a winning car despite the fact that Fernando is leading the championship. Alonso goes on to say that on paper he should have finished 7th so 5th is a welcomed result. The fact that Vettel was just one place in front doesn’t mean too much and more importantly Webber was three places behind so Fernando actually added to his advantage over his closest rival. That is to say Fernando has a 40 (still hard to believe) point lead over Mark Webber and a comfy 42 point lead over Vettel in the 3rd position. Since I feel Hamilton is the only other driver that will be in the mix for the second half let’s include his points difference to Alonso as well, it is 47. What is the take away? Fernando and Ferrari have done an A++ job in the first half of the season! Go team!
Pat Fry, Ferrari’s technical director, admitted a couple of days after the race that some of the updates that Ferrari raced did not perform as they should have and that this handicapped them, but also that they understand the issues and development is back on track. OK, if you say so Pat. Next up is Spa and Mr. Fry has indicated that Ferrari is bringing some “interesting updates” to the famous track in Ardennes mountains. Only time will tell.
So the first half of the 2012 season is now complete. Drivers, teams and those closely associated with them are now on a forced holiday. Some in the F1 world would say it has been a very unpredictable season so far, although one could also make the argument that it is quite predictable, with the usual suspects always gunning for pole, and for the most part vying for the race win. However this first half has been many other things as well. The re-emergence of a former top team, Williams. The re-acquaintance of a world champion, Kimi. The coming of age of a new generation of drivers, Perez, Maldonado, and Senna. But more importantly, the re-emphasis on the driver’s intellect, due to the fact that it is not just about how fast one can drive a racecar. This year, because Pirelli have done such a good job with the directive from the FIA to spice things up with tires that degrade quickly, we are seeing a more complete picture of just how hard it can be to win in Formula One. No one team has the blueprint. And no one blueprint works for every racetrack. Last year the RB7 was strong at all tracks. This year not so much. True, as the year goes on and more data is collected, things will settle down and a clearer picture of the championship will start to emerge. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen too soon, so we can have a season similar to the ones I remember as a little kid, when to be a world champion you didn’t have to win every race. Keke, Nico’s dad, won the championship in 1982 for Williams with only one win that year, just to name one example, there are many.
This year the competition is fierce, any number of teams and drivers can win a race and throw in some weather, a few accidents, uncharacteristic mechanical failures, tires that have a mind of their own and we have had some fantastic results for most of the grid. As I write this there are exactly 18 days, 19 hours, and 11 minutes till the lights go out on the front straight of Spa and Formula One enters into the second half of what I think will be one the most exciting seasons in a long time (for the record I thought 2010 was pretty darn exciting as well). So bring on the unpredictability that has been talked about so much this year because it makes for great racing, bitches… jp.