Monday, 30 July 2012

2012 Hungarian Grand Prix Review

Despite the small margin of victory, quite a commanding display from McLaren's Lewis Hamilton at the Hungaroring.  The other happy man will be Fernando Alonso, who despite finishing only fifth, actually increased his lead in the points standings. 

The race was not as processional or turgid as some which we have witnessed at this circuit in the past, but neither was it as exciting as most of the other Grands Prix of 2012.  The nature of the track dictated a lack of fluidity and dynamism in the running order, in relative terms, and the intense heat added another factor. Tyre matters seemed more pervasive than ever. Some teams and drivers will have felt that they possessed the pace, but were frustrated at their inability to make progress. Indeed, Force India appeared to be making this very point post-race.  This has been a recurring theme down the years at the Budapest venue. 

McLaren looked strong all weekend, this form having been hinted at in Germany.  Hamilton's smooth and trouble-free getaway from the line served as a good platform.  A partially botched first pit-stop could have proved costly for Lewis, but fortunately for him Romain Grosjean was affected similarly.  After that, in the opinion of some, Grosjean's relative inexperience in tyre management played a role.

Despite their failure to overhaul Hamilton, the Lotus team will have been pleased to have got two cars onto the podium, returning to the convincing form of some recent races. Kimi Raikkonen's strategy proved effectual, and there was a very spicy moment on lap 46 when the two team-mates locked horns at the first corner!  Once again, the Finn amply demonstrated that he has lost little of his old fire, in overcoming Grosjean, and taking second position.  Both Lotus drivers exuded some optimism after the race, and they must still feel confident of mounting the top step of the podium before the season is out.

There were a few other interesting sub-plots today.  It was nice to see Bruno Senna get a good solid points finish, and comprehensively outshine his highly-rated team-mate in the race.  This will hopefully give the Brazilian added confidence with which to tackle the remainder of the campaign.

Sauber showed some promise, but then sank into midfield, a fate which also befell both Force India and Mercedes.  For the latter, Michael Schumacher had a particularly miserable day, with problems on the parade lap, a penalty, and ultimately retirement from the race. 

We now have a break, before moving on to Spa, which could hardly contrast more with the Hungaroring.  For all the talk of a tightly contested championship, the fact remains that Alonso has established a lead, and bridging the gap to the Ferrari driver looks an increasingly tall order.  He can afford to drive tactically on occasion, keeping a watchful eye on the fortunes of his principal rivals. It looks unlikely that somebody will suddenly string a series of wins together.  Alonso looks in a very strong position, it must be said.


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