Ferrari clinches championship

Ferrari has taken its 14th Constructors' Championship in Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix courtesy of drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello who dominated the action in Budapest to take their seventh 1-2 of the season. Fernando Alonso was third in the Renault

Ferrari clinches championship

Talk about a dull race, this was a real yawn-fest following an action-packed start and first couple of corners. Schumacher made a fine start from pole, as Barrichello did well from the dirty side of the grid to hold second place into Turn 1. The cars to watch, as usual, were the Renaults.

Alonso made a blinder from fifth, immediately passing Jenson Button and swerving across the Britain's bows to further demote his BAR team-mate Sato. The Japanese was in typically feisty form, refusing to make life easy for Alonso, but this proved his downfall as he was slow exiting Turn 1 and allowed another fast-starter, Juan Pablo Montoya of Williams-BMW, to get a run on both himself and Button.

As at the Nurburgring, Sato's tactics in the opening corners proved his downfall and he lost a host of places. Montoya managed to get past both BARs in the next couple of turns, and Renault's Jarno Trulli, already making progress from ninth on the grid, made a brave move at Turn 4 to pass Sato, dropping him back to seventh - not good from third on the grid. Then McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen also got by him to complete his misery.

At the end of the opening lap, Schumacher led Barrichello by 1.1secs, with Alonso (who had a brief sniff at passing Rubens at Turn 2) already 1.3s in arrears. Following his dream start from seventh, Montoya held fourth from Button, Trulli, Raikkonen and the red-faced Sato. The Ferraris were immediately into an impressive race pace, with Schumacher lapping in 1m19.9s, Barrichello in 1m20.8s and Alonso back in 21.2s on lap three. Schumacher would lower his pace to the low 19s before his first pitstop on lap 12.

There had already been drama in the Ferrari pit, however. Following Barrichello's stop on lap 11, the fuel hose connector at the base of his rig sprung a leak, spraying fuel over the floor of the pit. This was hastily covered in sand and gravel just seconds before Schumacher's stop, which went off without a hitch. Ferrari then opted to change fuel hoses on both rigs, as a precaution, but the problem never recurred.

"There was little worry with the fuel rig, but nothing major," said technical director Ross Brawn after the race.

The first high profile retirement was Raikkonen, whose McLaren began to misfire on lap 10. After a couple of slow laps, and a pitstop, Kimi was forced to call it a day. "The engine kept cutting out, I think it's something to do with the software," said the luckless Finn.

At the front, meanwhile, it was status quo as expected. Ferrari enjoyed a comfort zone over its rivals mainly thanks to an excellent tyre from Bridgestone. As if to rub salt into Michelin's wounds, Schumacher was on the hard compound, Barrichello the soft, so it didn't really matter which one it chose. After last year's humiliation at the hands of Alonso, Renault and Michelin, the smug glow that often surrounds the Scuderia after a grand prix was even more obvious than usual.

Alonso plugged on gamely, determined not to be lapped like he managed to do to Schumacher last year. He finished a distant third, but well clear of his Michelin-shod rivals. Montoya was fourth, mainly thanks to his great couple of opening corners, while BAR will be unhappy with fifth and sixth for Button and Sato after its lock-out of the second row.

Both Sato and Williams stand-in Antonio Pizzonia got ahead of Trulli during the second round of stops as the Renault man struggled with excessive understeer and tyre graining. His day of misery was complete when his engine failed on lap 42.

Giancarlo Fisichella scored a point for Sauber after a very quiet race. Jaguar's Mark Webber ran a very long first stint, getting as high as fourth, and was chasing David Coulthard's McLaren when his rear tyres started to blister, causing him to spin on lap 24 at Turn 9. He still finished 10th, however, but well behind Coulthard.

Olivier Panis finished 11th after another poor race for Toyota. Team-mate Ricardo Zonta hit Webber at Turn 1, causing him the Brazilian to spin. He was running well down the order when he lost all power following his second pit stop, ending his first grand prix in a couple of years.

Nick Heidfeld won the Cosworth-powered honours for Jordan, well clear of the Jaguar of Christian Klien and the Minardis of Gianmaria Bruni and Zsolt Baumgartner. The second Jordan of Giorgio Pantano retired with gearbox failure. The other retirement was Felipe Massa (Sauber) who suffered brake problems and was withdrawn for safety reasons.

The record-breaking steamroller continues. This time it was another constructors' championship in the bag and a record 12th race win in a season for Schumacher. Quite fitting on the weekend of the 16th anniversary of death of the old man, Enzo Ferrari.

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