2008 Hungarian GP was not as dull as it often is. Unfortunately most of the excitement came in form of refueling fire and technical problems of the front runners. The only real racing for positions I could see (except the race start) was between Barrichello and Button in the very early stages of the race. Other than that all went according to usual Hungarian GP recipe, places were lost and gained in pitlane or to misfortune.
Heikki Kovalainen finaly scored his maiden win. I would not say it was the best race of his career. But unlike Massa and Hamilton he managed to bring the car to the finish line in one piece. At the end, that is what counts. If you want to finish first, first you have to finish … He did just that.
I do not want to say this was the best race of the season but it sure was entertaining. We could see some serious racing with overtaking up and down the grid, we had a safety car following a crash (luckily without any serious injury), we could see a serious strategy blunder and impressive recovery from it and 2 Brazilians on podium, one of them being Piquet jr. !
McLaren dominated the weekend from Friday but the close fight between Massa and Hamilton in qualifying promised some possibility of a fight for the race win. At the end we had a fight but more thanks to McLaren getting it wrong than Ferrari getting it right. Lewis Hamilton pulled away right from the start and Massa never looked like a serious opposition. Early on even Kovalainen was a threat but after few laps Massa pulled away from him. Not sure why because Heikki was not that much more heavy than Massa. In the meantime Hamilton managed to build a decent lead in front.
After some Monaco drizzle we had the first proper wet to extreme wet race this year. It has provided us with all that can be expected – lots of spins, pit stop and strategy dilemas and some surprising faces on the podium.
It is not easy to review this race without missing something. A lot was happening on the track, the commercial breaks on ESPN Star came always in the wrong moment and Steve Slater did again his best to confuse us all with mixing up the driver names and talking bull while important things were happening on the track. How can someone like this guy keep the job with a TV station that broadcasts all over Asia is a mystery to me. But back to racing …
When we look back at the end of the season for the start of the year then Lewis Hamilton’s start to British GP will be high on the list of candidates. Starting from 4th but almost in the lead after few corners. Only very sharp defensive driving from his team mate kept him in second position. I am not sure McLaren pit wall enjoyed those few opening corners watching both their drivers getting way too close for comfort on the wet and slippery track. Both McLarens pulled away with Kimi Raikkonen in 3rd safely behind (safely for McLarens but safely for Kimi too). Hamilton kept pushing and Kovalainen kept defending. But then on lap 4 all of a sudden Kovalainen let Hamilton pass … TV applauded that as a great overtaking maneuvre from Hamilton, to me it looked like team orders in place …
We sure have seen better races then 2008 French GP but we still got few servings of racing excitement despite utter Ferrari domination.
The only chances for others to mess with Ferrari were either at the race start, rain intervention or something going terribly wrong for one or both Ferrari drivers. At the race start all the fighting took part behind the two red cars and 1-2 order Kimi-Felipe has been set from the beginning. Kimi was 2-3 tenths faster and safely pulled away from Massa. The race at least at the top looked settled early on. The first round of pit stops changed nothing and Kimi seemed to be set for a win. Then however came lap 36 (just about half the race distance) and Raikkonen’s car began to slow down. The reason became obvious quickly. A big hole burned in the side of Raikkonen’s car and the exhaust pipe kept bouncing around hanging only on a piece of wire. Raikkonen kept on going but it did not take long for Massa getting ahead of him and claiming the lead. Surprisingly Raikkonen’s car held together till the end and Kimi returned to the podium after 2 races without any points. Felipe Massa cruised to the finish and claimed his 8th career win. This win also means Massa now leads the championship for the first time in his F1 career …
The race start was little disappointing – all the cars made it and for the first 13 laps the race was rather uneventful. Lewis Hamilton pulled away from Robert Kubica and Kimi Raikkonen. He looked like the man to beat. The only excitement came from Nelson Piquet overtaking every car that got in his way. But then Adrian Sutil spun off and safety car was out on track. Once the pitlane opened pretty much all the cars that were not on one stop strategy dived into pitlane. Raikkonen and Kubica jumped ahead of Hamilton after their pitstops but had to stop at the red light at the pitlane exit. Lewis Hamilton did not look up to check the light, he did not look ahead to check the cars in front him and hit the rear end of Raikkonen’s car. Nico Rosberg joined the party moments later and rammed into Hamilton. Kubica escaped unscathed but Hamilton and Raikkonen were out of the race…
Hamilton’s stupid mistake opened the door for BMW Sauber. It looked first the luck was on Heidfeld’s side. Once the race restarted he pulled away from the field helped by not that quick Barrichello in second place. After his pitstop he still returned ahead of his team mate but the “hint” on team radio about slowing down lighter Kubica made the trick. Kubica passed Heidfeld and never looked back. BMW drivers were definitely helped by misfortune of their main rivals but … they grabbed the opportunity and more importantly made no mistakes in a race that was all about not making any mistakes … Deserved 1-2 finish for BMW and clearly popular win for Kubica just about a year after his scary crash at the same track … Nick Heidfeld now remains the only driver without DNF this season … Did not make him to look too happy on the podium though …
It has been suggested several times that the surest way how to secure an exciting F1 race is to sprinkle the track with water. It looks like we had just about the right amount of water to create an exciting race. We had changing weather, we had changing strategies, we had the top drivers making mistakes, we had some spectacular crashes, we had few drivers scoring their first points this season and we also had tears. That was Monaco 2008.
Lewis Hamilton was the favourite to win this race but that was before the qualifying. To start from P3 was not the expected result but McLaren were confident the strategy will play in their hands. They were right, but it was the strategy Ferrari got wrong that helped at the end. To win a race in Monaco in such treacherous conditions requires some sublime skills and a fair share of luck at the same time. But looking back at the race, I must say he was three times lucky. First he hit the barrier, punctured his tyre and was lucky not to crash out of the race. Then thanks to “Trulli train” he returned from the pitlane in 5th place, still well within the reach of the front runners. And finally he managed to finish the race despite punctured tyre, probably from Rosberg’s car debris. His luck should however take nothing away from his performance. Unlike Raikkonen and Alonso for example he kept his head cool and secured his third Monaco win, first in Formula 1.
First point to make about this race is – the race had flying start (see the picture above). Second – we actually had a race. There were cars that raced each other ! Third point to make about this race is a question – would Lewis Hamilton even start the race under 2005 rules that prevented tyre changes ?
Felipe Massa is becoming the King of Istanbul track. Three pole postitions in a row, three wins in a row. He is the first driver since Michael Schumacher to win three consecutive races at the same Formula 1 track … He had a perfect start and created nice gap between himself and Hamilton before even reaching Turn 1. He lost his lead later on in the race when Hamilton overtook him, but at that time Massa was already aware of Hamilton’s 3 stop strategy and did exactly defend hard. He reclaimed his lead after another round of pitstops and held it rather comfortably. Massa wnet on to win his 7th F1 race, 3th consecutive Turkish GP and second race this year. After 2 DNFs early on Massa made it to the podium 3 times in a row. He is now officially back in the hunt for the title.
It was not the best weekend for Massa’s team mate and the championship leader Kimi Raikkonen. His troubles started on Friday already and stuck with him for the rest of the weekend. He collided with Heikki Kovalainen at the start and damaged his front wing. He still however managed to record the fastest lap of the race and finish on podium. Nothing spectacular from the defending champion, pretty much a damage limitation weekend …
It has been busy few days for me and it took me 2 days to finish the Spanish GP review. Here it comes finally… I apologize for a dull format without pictures this time .
Four races, three Ferrari wins, two 1-2 finishes, red cars leading both championships and Ferrari friendly Turkey track next … Things have turned around a bit since Melbourne …
After Fernando Alonso squeezed in between Raikkonen and Massa in qualifying there was a chance Renault may spoil the race for Ferrari. Massa’s good start put an end to those worries and from then on it was Ferrari’s race. The gap between them and Hamilton and Kubica was not that big but this may be down to the safety car period and Ferrari preserving the machinery towards the end of the race.
Hamilton returned to the podium for the first time since Melbourne. The race of both McLarens has been compromised by their qualifying. Fifth and sixth places on the grid are not the best places from where to launch the attack on the podium. The positive sign for McLaren is that they did not seem to be too much off the pace of Ferrari. The worry must be the BMW Sauber … The talking point of the race however was the heavy crash of Heikki Kovalainen. It looked very scary and to me even worse than the crash of Robert Kubica in Montreal last year. It is amazing to see how much protection the current F1 cars give to drivers. It is hard to believe that somebody can survive an impact like that with pretty much no injuries at all. At the same time crashes like this are a reminder that F1 is still a dangerous sport …
Two drivers started this race with new gearboxes, 14 drivers had new engines in the backs of their cars. Felipe Massa at the end seems to have kept his engine from Malaysia and clearly it did not do him any harm…
Many expected Ferrari to dominate this race, thanks also to their winter test on Bahrain track. Well, this is exactly what has happened. Since Friday Ferraris were the quickest cars, Felipe Massa looked like the man to beat. It did not go all to well for him in qualifying and he had to start from P2. He however took an advantage of problems Kubica was experiencing and lead the race from the start. Kimi Raikkonen lost his position briefly to Heikki Kovalainen. He claimed it back quickly and overtaking of Kubica followed shortly.
Raikkonen lost some time during his first pit stop and from there it was clear that bar some technical problems or accident Ferrari were going to score 1-2 finish and Massa his first win of the season. None of the drivers did anything silly and Ferrari 1-2 it was.
Kubica complained about lots of wheel spin at the race start he lost his P1 quickly to Massa. Nobody apparently told him about oil on the track on lap 2. The whole situation lead to Kimi overtaking him. From then on however Kubica matched the pace of the leading Ferraris for pretty much the rest of the race. Nick Heidfeld overtook Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli and gained to places to finish 4th. This was a very impressive showing from BMW Sauber team. Pole position, third podium in the row and importantly outpacing McLaren … BMW Sauber now lead the constructors table and Nick Heidfeld sits in the 2nd position of drivers standings. It is hard to consider them just lucky after 3 races like this…
After the crazy Australian GP it looked for a while we may have another mad weekend in Malaysia. The rain and storm predictions however did not materialize (yet again ) and so we had an opportunity to see what the form of the teams is under normal conditions (if the usual heat and humidity in Sepang can be considered normal conditions).
The Ferraris took the most out of their front row starting positions. Raikkonen made a better start but did not look too eager to fight with Massa in the first corner. He cruised in safe distance behind his team mate. When Massa went in for his first pit stop Raikkonen picked up speed and emerged ahead of Massa after his own pit stop. From then on it was all about Ferrari cars lasting the race distance. Then on lap 31 Massa spun off the track chasing nobody and being threatened by no one. He blaimed the spin on something at the back of the car, the team did not seem to see anything wrong with the car …
Raikkonen did not make any Melbourne-like mistakes this time and went on to win his first race of 2008 season. This also means at least one Ferrari car made it to chequered flag after both their cars failed to finish in Australia.
What a race. When I posted a video from the most exciting Australian GP race start I did not really expect we will see something similar this year. At the end, we had a spectacular race that so many cars did not finish, that the last 2 cars that broke down actually scored points.
It has to be said, Lewis Hamilton deserved to win this race. He qualified on pole position, avoided most of the mess that plagued many cars behind him and never looked back. He did not lead the race only during the brief periods after his pit stop. Importantly, same as Heidfeld and Rosberg behind him, he had luck on his side during the safety car periods.
Many were wondering how will the new rules affect the racing, especially what impact they will have on race starts. Well, now we now . Five cars were out after lap one, and Felipe Massa was lucky guy not be the sixth.
Hamilton quickly pulled away, Raikkonen made up several places and climbed to 8th. Sato also made the most out of the mayhem – he was running at 10th for quite a while. Raikkonen’s progress have been stalled by Barrichello, it took Kimi 19 laps to overtake the former Ferrari driver in Honda.
Oh my…. What a season. This is a team that under its old identity BAR Honda finished 2nd in the constructors table in 2004. This is the team that recorded its first race win in 2006. This the team who’s driver Jenson Button finished 3rd in driver’s table in 2004 and scored more points than any other driver in the second half of 2006 season… They hoped for further step up in 2007, if not for a title fight than at least few more race wins… To promote enviromental issues they entered the season with an unique Earth livery, with no sponsors messages on the car. The weight of the whole Earth was apparently too much for them to carry …
The Australian Grand Prix was an eye opener. The Honda cars were solid midfield cars, far behind the leading Ferraris and McLarens. Both cars finished lap down, barely getting out of Q1. The pattern for the rest of the season has been set. The 3 week break before Malaysian GP did not help them much, more the opposite. By the Malaysian GP the main competion for Honda began to appear – Toro Rosso, Spyker, Super Aguri and Ralf Schumacher. Getting to top ten in 2007 meant to the team about the same as getting on podium in 2006. Scoring points in 2007 was on par with race win a year ago. Podiums and wins were totally out the reach for Honda. On several ocassion Honda was outperformed by their baby team Super Aguri, racing more less the 2006 Honda car. That was the clear indication of how bad the 2007 Honda car, the RA107 was.