Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa

Hungarian GP – Points but no prizes

Hungaroring, 28 July – Fernando Alonso finished the Hungarian Grand Prix in fifth place and Felipe Massa was eighth, with both drivers having to fight very hard for the 14 points they brought home, on a day when the F138 did not have an answer for the performance of the three teams that filled the four places ahead of the Spaniard. At the start of the week, Fernando said it would make for a stressful summer break if Vettel extended his points lead by a big margin today. Fortunately, the Red Bull driver only increased the gap by five points, as he made it to the lowest step of the podium, behind race winner Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes and Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus. In fact, the Finn has relegated the Ferrari man to third in the championship, but only by a single point. Felipe is still seventh in the standings and the Scuderia remains third in the Constructors’, but the gap to second placed Mercedes has grown from 3 to 14 points.

Pole man Hamilton got off the line really well to lead Vettel, who was under heavy attack from Grosjean. The opening moments were hectic and some brave moves saw Fernando move up from fifth to fourth, with Felipe coming up to fifth, despite being clipped by Rosberg, who then dropped way down the order. Unfortunately, the contact with the Mercedes had damaged the left side of Felipe’s front wing and that would badly compromise the balance of his F138 for the rest of his race. The Brazilian came in on lap 11 to get off the Softs, running the Mediums for the rest of the race, while his Spanish team-mate did the same next time round. On lap 16, Webber, yet to pit having started on the Mediums, was leading followed by Hamilton, Button third and yet to stop also on Medium, Vettel, Grosjean and Fernando sixth, followed by Perez and Sutil who were being pursued by an eighth placed Felipe. Vettel, who had front wing damage, was coming under increasing pressure from Grosjean which was allowing Fernando to close on them, the gap being 1.1 on lap 18.

On lap 21 Felipe tried to pass Sutil and the two touched slightly, which allowed Raikkonen to get ahead of the Ferrari, while the Force India came back to the pits to retire. The Australian Red Bull driver finally pitted for another set of the Prime tyre on lap 23. Lap 24 saw Vettel get past Button and Grosjean banged wheels with the McLaren driver. Fernando made the most of it to slip by the Englishman, who then came in immediately for his first tyre change. On lap 25, Grosjean made a second stop from fourth place, which meant that, next time round, Hamilton led from Vettel, with Fernando up to third place, 1.6 ahead of Webber. Raikkonen was fifth ahead of Felipe, now back in a lonely sixth place in a Lotus sandwich, nearly six seconds down on the Finn and 3.2 ahead of Grosjean. But the Frenchman closed that gap very quickly and got by on lap 29, to take sixth. At this point, Fernando was also coming under pressure from Webber, on fresher tyres and Felipe’s mirrors were full of Button’s McLaren, the Englishman slipping by on lap 31, when leader Hamilton made his second stop as did Felipe for another set of Mediums.

On lap 33, Hamilton passed Webber and immediately sat on second placed Fernando’s tale, well within the DRS time limit, but there was no overtaking and race leader Vettel and Fernando both came down pit lane on lap 34. Felipe was now ninth, behind Perez and ahead of Hulkenberg. Therefore at half distance on lap 35, the order read, Hamilton, Webber, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Button, who had Vettel right on his tail, with Fernando seventh. On lap 36, Vettel moved up to fifth by dispensing with Button, who pitted for a second time on lap 37, when Grosjean came in for a drive-through penalty for causing a collision earlier in the race. He rejoined in sixth and was soon harrying Fernando. Raikkonen came in from third to make his second stop on lap 42, with Webber doing the same thing from second one lap later, losing just one position in so doing.

The pressure eased on Fernando when Grosjean made his final stop on lap 47, emerging just ahead of Felipe. In the other F138, Fernando made his last stop on lap 48 and in fact, Felipe came in right behind him, as did Rosberg. At this stage, the leading four, Hamilton, Vettel, Webber and Raikkonen had made two stops, while Fernando in fifth was the first of the three stoppers. Behind the Spaniard, Grosjean had got past Button on older tyres to take sixth. Hamilton came in from the lead on lap 50, coming out just behind Webber and as they came to lap a backmarker, the Australian ran really wide, only just managing to hold his position, before losing it to Hamilton, who now found himself second behind Vettel. Fernando was fifth, 16.6 behind Raikkonen and 33.4 behind the leader, while Felipe was eighth, behind Button. Vettel and Webber were both due to make a further stop, the German coming in from the lead on lap 55, rejoining in fourth place ahead of the Spanish Ferrari man.

On lap 59, Webber who had run the entire race so far on the Medium tyre, came in to switch to the Softs, which would be quicker than the Prime but would also have to last 11 laps, as he rejoined fourth, 3.9 ahead of Fernando. However, the Australian comfortably extended that gap and the Ferrari man still had his mirrors full of Grosjean’s Lotus. The Frenchman’s team-mate, Raikkonen was struggling to fight off Vettel as they duelled for second place, behind Hamilton who led with a comfortable 11 seconds cushion. And that was the order to the chequered flag as far as the front runners were concerned, with Hamilton taking his first and Mercedes third win of the season. In the closing laps, Felipe tried to go looking for Button, but it was just too high a target and so he had to settle for eighth.