Hungarian Grand Prix: Alonso's 'dream' maiden victory

Renault's Fernando Alonso crushed the field to win the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday. The 22-year-old Spaniard became the youngest driver in history to win a grand prix, which was achieved in convincing and dominant fashion

Hungarian Grand Prix: Alonso's 'dream' maiden victory

While much was made of the historic overtones of Alonso's maiden victory (youngest driver, first Spaniard, etc) perhaps the most impressive aspect of his win was the manner in which it was achieved. He used the Renault's renowned launch system to catapult himself into the lead at the first corner, and then romped away from the pack at an incredible pace.

He was helped in the first stint by Jaguar's Mark Webber, who grabbed second place as both Williams bogged down on the startline. From second and fourth on the grid, Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya slumped to eighth and ninth by the first corner, behind eighth placed starter Michael Schumacher of Ferrari, and matters were made even worse when Ralf spun at Turn 2.

"When I pressed the [launch system] button it was like throwing out an anchor," said Montoya. "Everybody went past like we weren't even accelerating. I couldn't believe that I was down in P8 by the first corner."

Webber, meanwhile, repelled an overly-optimistic attack by Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello on his second place at Turn 6 on lap three, the Brazilian straightlining the corner and rejoining ahead of the Australian. In his attempts to let Webber through, so as not to be penalised, Kimi Raikkonen and Alonso's Renault team-mate Jarno Trulli also got past the Ferrari.

After just four laps Alonso already had a 10sec lead, which he increased with a punishing series of fastest laps just before his first pitstop. Raikkonen briefly grabbed the lead until his stop two laps later, after which Alonso held sway once again. Such was his pace that he lapped world championship leader Michael Schumacher and team-mate Jarno Trulli in the latter stages, and cruised to a comfortable first grand prix victory.

"The victory is a dream come true for me," he said. "I'm 22-years-old and I've got my first win in my pocket, so I hope for a long career in F1 with more victories. After eight or nine laps I asked the team 'where are the others?' and they told me they were 15secs behind, and I thought 'my God!". I pushed a lot to build my advantage and then completed the race quite slowly."

If the destiny of the winner was never in doubt, second place was also a foregone conclusion by half distance. Raikkonen's super start from seventh to fourth, which became third when he scrabbled past Barrichello, was the catalyst for his runner-up position. He got ahead of Webber at the first round of pitstops and never looked threatened thereafter.

"I got a very good start and I tried the outside again, but Barrichello blocked me," said Raikkonen. "Everyone went to the inside and I braked on the clean part of the track and was able to gain many places. I lost a bit of time behind Webber, but I'm happy with second from seventh on the grid."

Williams was forced to play catch-up after its disastrous start. Montoya was stuck behind M Schumacher before his first stop, but once ahead of him he closed right onto the tail of the second Ferrari of Barrichello, just as Rubens suffered a frightening rear left suspension failure which pitched him off the road and into the tyrewall.

"I had no indication that anything was wrong before it happened," said Rubens, who was uninjured in the hefty head-on impact.

Despite getting a face-full of bodywork and suspension parts, Montoya continued his charge. Meanwhile, R Schumacher was carving his way through the lower order and had virtually negated the time lost in his first lap spin by his second pitstop. His highlight was a blinding pass on brother Michael, just as Montoya failed to make a move stick on Trulli's Renault ahead of him.

Montoya used his second stop to leapfrog ahead of both Trulli and Webber, as did R Schumacher. The Williams duo charged until the end, and Montoya even found time for a quick spin.

"We clearly had probably the fastest car today but passing was quite difficult," he said. "I had to wait until the pitstops and then pushed when I had a clear track. I made a mistake when I spun, though."

McLaren's David Coulthard was the only frontrunner to opt for a two-stop strategy, and this paid off with a fifth place finish.

"From my grid position, the result was good," said DC, who rejoined the race just in front of M Schumacher after his second and final stop. "I knew it would be close with Michael, but I knew he'd have to stop again."

Webber clung doggedly to his cause and finished a solid sixth for Jaguar, while Trulli did well to hold off M Schumacher in the closing laps for seventh. Schuey also rued the fact that he ran out of fuel in his second stop, which caused his engine to stall.

Michael's poor finish of eighth means his world championship advantage has all but evaporated. He leads by one point from Montoya, with Raikkonen another point further back. Williams has surged ahead of Ferrari in the constructors' standings (129-121), however, so it's all to play for with three races to go.

Nick Heidfeld was best of the rest to finish ninth for Sauber, ahead of BAR's Jenson Button, who lost a lot of time at the start. Cristiano da Matta lost a lap when his car failed to start, but he got ahead of both Minardis to finish 11th, while Jos Verstappen and Nicolas Kiesa rounded out the finishers.

Justin Wilson (Jaguar) went out with an engine failure on lap 43 while running just outside the top 10, while Jacques Villeneuve (BAR) went out when his hydraulics failed early on. Other engine failures claimed both Jordans, whose number included grand prix debutant Zsolt Baumgartner, while Olivier Panis (Toyota) failed to get away from his second pitstop and Heinz-Harald Frentzen retired his Sauber when it ran out of fuel.

A 22-year-old winner, a lapped world champion and three drivers separated by just three points at the head of the title race - who said Formula 1 was getting dull?

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