As the dust settles on a somewhat muted Hungarian Grand Prix, RealSport looks back over the weekend to look at what Lewis Hamilton’s close victory over team mate Nico Rosberg means for the wider season.
Things are all starting to go wrong for Nico Rosberg as we approach the mid season break. Leading team mate Hamilton by 43 points at one stage, he now trails the British driver by six points courtesy of three back-to-back wins (and five wins from the last six races) for the reigning world champion. Momentum is certainly with Hamilton now, and it is really up to Rosberg to hit back at his home race, which is next up this weekend, in Germany. One suspects however, that Rosberg has hit a wall in terms of how to deal with his team mate. The days where Rosberg is clearly the better driver are getting fewer and further between, and his attempts to out race his team mate have so far come off as misguided and at times, or just ridiculous (Austria for example).
What started out as a relatively calm and collected accumulation of points, as his team mate repeatedly hit technical issues, has now become somewhat panicked, and Nico is going to have to calm down, take a step back, and really decide how he is going to approach the rest of the season, because Hamilton is striking back and now has his eyes firmly set on a fourth title.
Best of the Rest?
It was hard to tell who came off as best of the rest on Sunday afternoon between the Red Bull and Ferrari teams. Red Bull have certainly improved their performances on Saturdays, evidenced by them being just less than two tenths down on the Silver Arrows in qualifying. The race however was a different matter. Being unable to keep up with the Mercedes, after failing to pass either of them at the start, both Bulls fell back into the clutches of Ferrari as the race wore on. On this occasion owing to the nature of the Hungaroring, but also the tenacious nature of the guys in the Red Bull cockpits, the Ferrari’s couldn’t get past, but the sight of Vettel and Raikkonen riding the gearboxes of Ricciardo and Verstappen respectively gives the impression that the Ferrari is still the quicker car come Sunday, even if only marginally at this point in the season.
I cannot see much room for improvement for either team as they rush to Germany for this weekend’s race, but heading into the summer break, both teams will be looking for that extra bit of performance in order to secure second place in the championship. It will certainly be an interesting fight, not only from an on-track view, but also with a view to development for 2017, as pushing the development of this year’s car will almost certainly impact negatively on 2017’s design, and with another major technical rule change coming for next year, both teams will certainly not want to get left behind again – as they did in 2014.
McLaren Coming Good (Finally)?
The sight of both McLarens in Q3 will be a sight for sore eyes for a lot of fans around the world, and despite Jenson Button’s tribulations on race day (see below), the team were rewarded with an excellent seventh place for Fernando Alonso on Sunday. While not their best result of the McLaren-Honda era, given that there was only one other retirement and that there were no safety cars deployed during the race, this result is certainly one that will give the team at Woking a much needed shot in the arm.
Driver Fernando Alonso, long rumoured to be getting a bit fed up with his current situation and the state of F1 in general, looked positively ecstatic in the driver’s press pen after the race, believing (rightly so – at least on the day) that McLaren were the ‘best of the rest’ behind the top three teams. Hopefully the team can press on from here and deliver Alonso and Button a car that will let them have a bit of fun before the end of the season.
Radio Rules in need of Revision (again)?
Following Nico Rosberg’s punishment at Silverstone, everyone following F1 has become aware of the restrictive radio rules, and these were made even more restrictive in the run up to the Hungarian race, with teams being told that if they wanted to tell their drivers how to fix their cars, they would have to pull the car in to the pits to do so. McLaren were the ones to fall foul of this rule this week, with Jenson Button being given a drive through penalty following instructions from his McLaren team over how to fix an issue with his brake pedal. Anyone watching the race must surely recall Button’s sarcastic reaction to this at the time, and the British driver was no less complimentary of the new rules post-race.
Button explained to reporters: “We had a safety issue. The brake pedal kept going – it was on the floor. So basically I had some brakes, but nowhere near as much braking. For me, it’s a safety concern. And for rectifying a safety concern we get a drive through penalty. The sport is good in so many ways and there are so many improvements coming, but common sense should prevail and we shouldn’t get a penalty for avoiding an incident.”
With the radio rules becoming a hot topic of conversation, and with many former drivers, pundits and fans coming out against these restrictive rules, the FIA will no doubt find themselves under pressure to once again revise them as we move further into the season.
Record Books for Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton’s win on Sunday was his fifth at the Hungaroring, a feat which moves him one clear of Michael Schumacher to make him the most successful driver ever at the circuit. This comes two weeks after Hamilton became the most successful British driver at his home circuit, so Hamilton will certainly be pleased with his recent work, but he still has a long way to go to claim more of these records. One more win at Silverstone would tie him with Alain Prost, and two more wins in Italy and Canada would draw him level with Schumacher again. Fortunately, he should be around in F1 for a few more years yet, so you never know. He will have to get his skates on though if he wants to surpass his hero Ayrton Senna at Monaco, the Brazilian having won six times to Hamilton’s two.