• Aug 1, 2010
2010 Hungarian Grand Prix – Click above for high-res image gallery

There are races, and then there are races. And this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, ladies and gents, was the latter.

Instead of the usual parade of high-tech machinery proceeding in procession, sapping the excitement out of the sport – or worse yet, lamentable team orders sullying the day – this latest round in the Formula One World Championship was packed with fate-altering, nail-biting action – and rivalries both old and new – from start to finish. A fitting way, then, to sign off before the season takes a nearly month-long summer break.

Care to see what we mean? Follow the jump to read on.

Saturday's qualifying sessions held little in the way of surprises for race fans who've been following along this season. That, of course, meant Red Bull on pole – just as it has been for every race but one so far this year – with Sebastian Vettel pipping his arch-rival/team-mate Mark Webber to the top slot this time around, the "not-bad-for-number-two" driver lining up beside him in second position. Behind them this time, however, were the Ferrari pairing of Alonso and Massa, fresh from their controversial one-two finish last week in Germany. Lewis Hamilton qualified fifth – far better than his defending champion team-mate Jenson Button in eleventh – with Nico Rosberg (Mercerdes), Vitaly Petrov and Robert Kubica (Renault), Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber), and Nico Hulkenberg (Williams) sandwiched between to round out the remaining top ten. HRT's rookie driver Sakon Yamamoto was relegated to the back of the grid after failing to report to the FIA-mandated scales, but that hardly affected anything since his qualifying time placed him at the back anyway.

The formation lap got away without a hitch as usual, with all the cars starting clean to return to the grid. But once the race got underway in earnest, all bets were off. Fernando Alonso, starting on the second row on the "clean" side of the track, squeezed past Webber to take second position behind Vettel, who within two laps was already opening a two-second lead in a revised chassis that was already emerging as a marked improvement. Farther adrift of the resulting Red Bull-Ferrari-Red Bull-Ferrari locomotive, Button was fairing even worse than in qualifying, dropping from 11th to 15th. Meanwhile Michael Schumacher, whose race-starting prowess has proven better than his qualifying times, skipped from 14th to 13th, while Hamilton lost ground to both Rosberg and Petrov – positions which he'd soon regain. Worse fortunes, however, befell Toro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari, who blew his engine on only the third lap and retired to the pits.

After the opening few laps settled into place, Vettel remained in what seemed like an unassailable lead, a solid four seconds ahead of Alonso, who was followed in one-second intervals by Webber, Massa and Hamilton. A strong-running Petrov trailed a few seconds behind in sixth, followed by Rosberg, Kubica, Barrichello and Hulkenberg in the top ten points positions, with de la Rosa, Sutil, Schumacher, Button, Kobayashi, Liuzzi, Buemi Trulli, di Grassi, Kovalainen, Glock, Senna and Yamamoto trailing behind.

And so the race might have continued straight to the finish line were it not for a startling turn of events as the lap-counter rounded through the teens. With the safety car deployed under a yellow flag due to debris on the track, the field began heading into the pits for the first round of stops. The tightly-packed pit lane at the Hungaroring, however, proved incapable of handling the mass of cars heading in simultaneously. First Nico Rosberg, exiting from the Mercedes pit box, lost a wheel, which narrowly missed hitting any of the mechanics scrambling from the garages. Then Renault released Kubica a touch early, sending him into Adrian Sutil's Force India car. Rosberg was out, Sutil was out, and while Kubica managed to recover and rejoin in last place – further saddled with a stop-start penalty for the Sutil collision – nine laps later he'd call it a day, too.

One of the few drivers to escape the pit-lane melee was Mark Webber. While nearly everyone else took advantage of the safety car to perform the mandatory stop, Webber stayed out, leapfrogging both Vettel and Alonso to take the lead. Surely he'd have to stop as well, but for exactly how long Red Bull would tempt fate remained to be seen.

While things were looking good for Red Bull, its drivers jockeying for the lead, and for Ferrari, poised to capitalize on the slightest Red Bull mistake, over at McLaren the skies looked decidedly darker. With Button languishing at the back, Hamilton was sidelined with mechanical problems on lap 24, the former world champion ditching his car trackside to end his race.

Back up front with the red and blue dogfight, Webber remained in the lead, trailed by Alonso with Vettel closing in fast. But the young German's chances of regaining the top position suddenly vanished into the exhaust fumes when the race stewards handed him a frustrating penalty. Apparently the rules stipulate that, when the safety car is deployed, the cars must follow within ten car-lengths of each other. Vettel, it would seem, failed to do so, and was subsequently burdened with a drive-through penalty. He took the blow quickly, but not well, visibly demonstrating his frustration as he cruised through the pit lane.

Tempers aside, the penalty didn't appear to immediately affect Vettel's position, only arguably his prospects for advancing past a slower Alonso as he rejoined still in third position, sandwiched between the Ferraris. And within a couple dozen laps, he was dogging Alonso for second place once again.

The double-champ in the crimson, meanwhile, did his best to keep the pace while waiting for Webber to pit from pole. But by the time he did, the Australian had opened up such a lead over the trailing Ferrari that the quick business which the Red Bull pit crew made of his stop saw him return still in the lead, with fresh tires and a clear path to the finish line.

Another dozen laps on, one of the few remaining drivers yet to have pitted was Rubens Barrichello in the Williams-Cosworth, who was holding on valiantly to fifth place after his solid fourth and fifth place finishes at the European and British grands prix, respectively. The veteran Brazilian rejoined in eleventh place behind his old team-mate Schumacher, setting the stage for an epic battle for the last points position in the field. Four laps later Barrichello was filling Schumacher's mirrors with Williams, just waiting for the opportunity to pass.

As the BBC pundits remarked, Schumacher had become less of a threat and more of a trophy, passing drivers paying homage but passing nonetheless. The seven-time world champion, however, wasn't going to give up this position without a fight, and after several nostalgic laps of follow-the-leader, as Barrichello moved to pass down the front straight, Schumi nearly put him in the wall. An investigation was launched by the race stewards that would in all likelihood penalize Schumacher for the most unsportsmanly conduct by the time you read these words.

Rubens got by in the end, taking that tenth-place points finish home for Williams, behind Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber/9th), Button (McLaren/8th), de la Rossa (Sauber/7th), Hulkenberg (Williams/6th), Petrov (Renault/5th) and Massa (Ferrari/4th). Vettel in the end had to be satisfied with a podium finish in third, behind Alonso who grinned as wide as he managed to make his car in fending off Vettel's advances, while Mark Webber scored yet another brilliantly-orchestrated and well-deserved victory, his fourth this season (more than any other driver) and catapulting both himself and his team into the lead for both titles. Not bad for the number two driver indeed, only this time it went without saying.

Join us again on August 29 for our post-race coverage of the Belgian Grand Prix from the vaunted Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Mysterious debris that employs the safety car.

      I thought the FIA didnt want races manipulated!

        • 4 Years Ago
        A large piece of a Force India front wing in the middle of a corner is mysterious debris now?

        When the field is so spread out, there is no safe way to clean up debris other than by deploying a safety car. Marshalls need to go out, remove the debris, sweep the carbon fibre fragments off of the track, and return. It takes quite a while, you just don't see it on the broadcasts on TV.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Vettel's become a conundrum this season. If the best driver with the best car should win in F1, he both is an isn't. He's showing that dominating qualifying is nothing for him, but when it comes to races he either makes mistakes or has bad luck.

      I chalk it down to experience. He and Webber drive the same car, and while Vettel may have more skill than Mark (qualifying), but Webber has the experience, which is why he's winning the championship.

      Just my .02
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed. Webber had a magnificent drive today.

        Still setting fastest lap times after 30 laps or so on option tires! Well done.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Cat: Vettel is only 10 points back of the WDC lead...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am not gonna read all these, where is the summary of standings?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I can't help but wondering what kind of offers does Newey receive from other teams after such domination showcase we witnessed during the qualifying day. He seems to be The Best Chief-Engineer in the F1-world.
        • 4 Years Ago
        i just don't think this is something that would other teams stop from trying :)
        • 4 Years Ago
        It took a lot to get him to come to Red Bull after he 'quit' F1. I can't imagine him wanting to leave, especially with the team he has there and the free reign he's given.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I still can't help but feel RBR is racing against Webber.

      By making him go to the front of the pack, with vettel in a similarly powered car right behind him, they were more or less trying to place the cars in 1,2.

      They knew that Webber would probably get the 20 seconds ahead of Alonso in third, and that Vettel would keep within 5-10 seconds of Webber and come out in first when the pit happened.

      It was sour luck for Vettel, but had RBR pitted webber and put him right behind vettel on the same pit stop they risked vettel making a mistake and webber actually getting past.

      It still amazes me the pure excitement of Mark's team when he wins, contrasted to the blank faces of the rest of the team. But good work on Horner holding mark out so long to allow him to do what he did.

      Anyone that thinks that Vettel would hold Alonso up for Webbers sake is delusional, he was doing that soley to give himself plenty of clean air to race in. He didn't want Alonso to be right on his back in a 3 car train.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Was a good race indeed.

      Hopefully Vettel gets it together because as far as speed goes he really "deserves" better. Reminds a bit of Raikkonen Mclaren times where 38% of his races ended to technical failure while he being clearly the fastest in 1-2 season.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm wondering if RBR has a strategy where Vettel held the field up just enough for webber's gap to pit, and were expecting Vettel to just beat Webber on his way out of pit lane; while holding the others at bay to seal the 1,2 victory.

      Also I'm wondering why McLaren went through the whole weekend with a damaged gearbox in Lewis' car when it could have been brand new prior to the weekend starting.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Possible, but I just can't see Vettel agreeing to that.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They can't change the gearbox after qualifying. Maybe they didn't notice it was broken before then?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Even when you paste it in, I still don't buy his story. A driver like him doesn't slow down as much as he did, even when distracted.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You're delusional if you think Vettel would do such a thing for Mark, or maybe you haven't been paying attention to the season at all. There's also no way in hell Christian Horner would ask this of Vettel and risk him conceding a position to Alonso by 'holding' him back, not that anyone could communicate with Vettel anyway, since anyone watching the race would remember Vettel lost radio communication with the team (he was informed of when to pit only by spotting the sign held up at the straight's pitwall).

        Press conference extract:

        Sebastian VETTEL
        I was probably relying too much on the radio but somewhere in the first stint I Iost the radio connection and I didn't hear anything. I saw the safety car boards and was waiting for instruction when the safety car would come in. I didn't see the lights. Also Mark, usually the leader when he does the re-start, he tries to drop back and then dictates the pace. Mark was very close and I was warming up my car. I was sure we had another lap, so I didn't really understand. Then I saw Mark and the safety car at the second last corner, quite a big gap to myself. I noticed the safety car going into pits, so that must be the re-start and I was caught out, so I lost a lot of momentum and lost a lot in the first couple of laps which was not the intention.

        "In the end I should have won. For some reason it did not happen and we finished third. As Mark said none the less it was a good result for the team but surely I am very disappointed. "
        • 4 Years Ago
        My post was mainly directed towards RX-Elise if that came off a bit rude.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Still not sure what to think about the Schumacher block. Maybe he was getting revenge for Rubens apparently bad-mouthing him in the media recently?

      Either way it was a very good race in my opinion. Very much drama and a lot of twists and turns during the race. Enjoying this season a lot, despite the fact that i'm not happy that Schumi isn't doing well. Oh well, there's always next season...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Absolutely normal move by Schumacher.

        Remember when he ran his brother off track at the German GP?

        Remember when he ran Rubens off the track at Indy when he was coming out of the pits? Even though he had already lapped the field? Only 6 cars in the race and Schumacher still feels the need to run someone else off the track.

        And then there's Monaco. Two incidents.

        He's always been a jerk. It just didn't come into play that much when he was up front.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Agreed on all points Maestro1. I was watching the post race BBC questions of Rubens and he was talking about how drivers wanted things to be "fair". The word came up a lot before it hit me that the word is singularly destroying F1. People who want things to be fair are the same people who would rather races be settled by FIA rulings than on the track.

        Great races come from people who get on with it and don't spend more time crying than racing. I admire that about Michael, just as I do Lewis (he just took his drive through after the SC incident, not a complaint), Kobayashi (couldn't qualify well, stayed relaxed just got on with it and got points) and let's not forget Webber. Meanwhile we have Barrichello saying "That's not fair! There's not a rule against it but there should be.", Button complaining "The balance of the car is wrong!" every weekend and Vettel furious about any penalty he incurs. They may be able to hit an apex but they aren't even real men, let alone racers. Kick the pussies out of F1 and we'll have an interesting race regardless of the aerodynamic grip of the cars or a silly governing body.
        • 4 Years Ago
        See, but when he retires and we look back, son't get me wrong, as good as he was, he will always be remembered for moves like these, cheating (lots of that!) , and having "The world's largest trophy case." Also too he had the dream team going w/ Rory Byrne, Ross Brawn, Jean Todt, and a number 2 driver that would consequently lay down for him on command. Many of his cars at Ferrari (pretty much all of them especially 2000-2006) were tailored nearly perfectly to his driving style and tastes (and had TC too) . So that is why when he gets in a car like the Mercedes MGP W01 that would require a lot more attention and skill he gets beaten pretty badly by Nico.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You do NOT seek "revenge" @170+ MPH!!! Absolutely gutless move by Schumacher
        • 4 Years Ago
        The only reason Senna took out Prost @ the 1st corner at Suzuka is because Prost was a coward and decided to close the door on Senna and try to take him out of the race when he was going to overtake him. Prost didn't even care he just got out of his care and assumed he finished the job. Then Senna restarted his damaged car limped around Suzuka and pitted to get a new wing, and won the damn race. Then the FIA president who hated Senna disqualified him for the most BS reason, having for used the chicane's escape road to rejoin the circuit.

        Bottom line is that Senna never had a demeanor where he would deliberately try to take other drivers out or drive them off the road. If he was slower and someone would want to overtake, he would defend very, very hard, but never try cause a shunt between the two. However, Schumacher would, that's why in 1997 he was DQ, and simultaneously they realized that what happened in 1994 was no accident.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You are forgetting his two most famous CHOPS... Adelaide Australia GP 1994, & 1997 European GP. Drove into Hill to clinch his 1st WDC & then attempted to wreck Villeneuve to clinch another. The FIA rightfully DQ'd his '97 results for that classy move.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You guys call him a jerk but he's one of the few people in F1 that actually wants to race. Michael, Lewis and Kamui Kobayashi for me are the only drivers out there that throw common sense to the wind and just race.

        Remember racing is crazy by nature. The people who do what the achingly dull engineers tell them they should do start to think like engineers and they limit themselves to processional races because they believe it should be processional. They don't think they can find a tenth, let alone a half-second or a second, so they don't. Around the they go and the fans all complain. Then someone comes along who has the stones to do something outlandish and sometimes it pays off. Sometimes it doesn't as with Michael's block but if you want him to just give up the place, you aren't interested in seeing real racers go at it. "Give up" isn't a phrase that exists in a racers mind.
      • 4 Years Ago
      not a bad race. I would put it as one of the better ones. i don't know if i should believe Vettel or not, but it does make sense the way he explains himself.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Vettel was trying to hold up the field so that Webber could get out as far ahead as possible. That way Weber would not lose as much time pitting. That basically won Webber the race.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If you're Vettel, why would you not want to be as close as you could to Webber on the restart in order to push him more and make him wear out those old tires faster? Then when Webber makes his stop you have that much more of a gap back to him.

        Then Vettel very nearly gets another penalty on his drive through when he takes both hands off the wheel throwing his hissy fit. I don't know how he was still on the pit limiter at that point but it could've caused him to get a pitlane speeding penalty.
      • 4 Years Ago
      after that passing debacal of schmi i have lost all respect for him---maybe somebody should run him off track and into a wall---hasent done much of anything this year anyway
      • 4 Years Ago
      Here's a replay of all that happened during the Safety Car Laps

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