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.

Grapevine: Final News from the Paddock - Hungarian GP
Previous article

Grapevine: Final News from the Paddock - Hungarian GP

Next article

Schumacher Storms to Record Win, Ferrari Clinch Title

Schumacher Storms to Record Win, Ferrari Clinch Title
The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023 Plus

The crucial tech changes F1 teams must adapt to in 2023

Changes to the regulations for season two of Formula 1's ground-effects era aim to smooth out last year’s troubles and shut down loopholes. But what areas have been targeted, and what impact will this have?

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history? Plus

Are these the 50 quickest drivers in F1 history?

Who are the quickest drivers in Formula 1 history? LUKE SMITH asked a jury of experienced and international panel of experts and F1 insiders. Some of them have worked closely with F1’s fastest-ever drivers – so who better to vote on our all-time top 50? We’re talking all-out speed here rather than size of trophy cabinet, so the results may surprise you…

Formula 1
Jan 25, 2023
One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1 Plus

One easy way the FIA could instantly improve F1

OPINION: During what is traditionally a very quiet time of year in the Formula 1 news cycle, FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem has been generating headlines. He’s been commenting on massive topics in a championship that loves them, but also addressing necessary smaller changes too. Here we suggest a further refinement that would be a big boon to fans

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
How can McLaren keep hold of Norris? Plus

How can McLaren keep hold of Norris?

Lando Norris is no longer the young cheeky-chappy at McLaren; he’s now the established ace. And F1's big guns will come calling if the team can’t give him a competitive car. Here's what the team needs to do to retain its prize asset

Formula 1
Jan 24, 2023
What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make? Plus

What difference did F1's fastest pitstops of 2022 make?

While a quick pitstop can make all the difference to the outcome of a Formula 1 race, most team managers say consistency is more important than pure speed. MATT KEW analyses the fastest pitstops from last season to see which ones – if any – made a genuine impact

Formula 1
Jan 23, 2023
When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter Plus

When F1 ‘holiday’ races kept drivers busy through the winter

Modern Formula 1 fans have grown accustomed to a lull in racing during winter in the northern hemisphere. But, as MAURICE HAMILTON explains, there was a time when teams headed south of the equator rather than bunkering down in the factory. And why not? There was fun to be had, money to be made and reputations to forge…

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2023
What Porsche social media frenzy says about F1’s manufacturer allure Plus

What Porsche social media frenzy says about F1’s manufacturer allure

Porsche whipped up a frenzy thanks to a cryptic social media post last week and, although it turned out to be a false alarm, it also highlighted why manufacturers remain such an important element in terms of the attraction that they bring to F1. It is little wonder that several other manufacturers are bidding for a slice of the action

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2023
Why the new Williams boss shouldn’t avoid ‘Mercedes B-team’ comparisons Plus

Why the new Williams boss shouldn’t avoid ‘Mercedes B-team’ comparisons

OPINION: Williams has moved to replace the departed Jost Capito by appointing former Mercedes chief strategist James Vowles as its new team principal. But while he has sought to play down the idea of moulding his new squad into a vision of his old one, some overlap is only to be expected and perhaps shouldn't be shied away from

Formula 1
Jan 17, 2023