Lewis Hamilton underlines pre-eminent status & makes own luck in dazzling Budapest win
Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle on Hamilton's Hungary brilliance, the curious case of Romain Grosjean and the state of play in F1 as the sport breaks for the summer
By Martin Brundle. Last Updated: 29/07/13 1:29pm
Lewis Hamilton once again demonstrated that in terms of outright speed he is the fastest driver on the grid at the moment.
He really did steal pole position from under the nose of Sebastian Vettel with a performance which deeply impressed the whole pit lane. By Sunday evening the likes of Niki Lauda, Ross Brawn and many other paddock luminaries were speaking in hushed tones about his race victory.
Lewis said that it would take a miracle to win despite his qualifying pace and he certainly did have the rub of the green as rivals were held up behind traffic or eliminated themselves with contact or a drive-through penalty. But he absolutely made his own luck by snatching pole, delivering the perfect start, maximising his tyre grip without destroying them, and most importantly by making two critical overtakes.
The first on Jenson Button down into turn one was such that he could find some clear air and deliver pace without damaging his tyres and most importantly without overheating his car on a day when everything was at the extreme limit temperature wise.
The second overtake was an outrageous and to an extent brutal move on lap 51 against Mark Webber around the outside of turn two which eventually forced Webber very much around the outside of turn three. Hamilton wasn't going to lose time to one Red Bull while the other was hunting him down. Choosing the tyre stops perfectly for performance reasons forced him into needing to overtake many cars, so he just got on with it.
Once again I think that the GP2 and GP3 desperados gave strong hints to the F1 drivers where unorthodox overtaking moves were possible.
After the race Lewis chose the moment to underline how sad he is in his personal life. With his ex, Nicole, saying how sad she is I don't know why they don't just get back together - says agony uncle Martin! It all seems a bit of an emotional roller coaster but at least it's not slowing him down, although you wonder just where he'd be with no distractions.
What I do know for sure is that when he joins us on Sky Sports F1 he's in brilliant form and so interesting to listen to.
Kimi drove another stunner on a two-stopper by holding off Vettel despite much older tyres, rather confirming that they should have tried this in Germany for a likely victory. That's 27 consecutive point-scoring races, he's so fast and super reliable. He's now made it the 'big four' and he should be on every team's shopping list given that the other three are locked down right now.
And so onto the curious case of Romain Grosjean. I had a daft Tweet asking me to make my mind up about him because I both applaud and criticise him in commentary. My mind is crystal clear. His precision and bravery alongside Vettel down into the first corner was truly sensational. His move around the outside of Felipe Massa in turn four was brave and brilliant in the extreme. His bumping into Button at the chicane because he 'thought the track was wider there' was clumsy and confusing to say the least. His raw pace remains unquestioned, and he will win a race as soon as he stops making weird mistakes.
It was cruel that he was penalised for completing the move on Massa while being marginally all four wheels off the track. Without doubt the drivers will see this as a disincentive to 'have a go' and create those magic moments people still talk about years later. The trouble is that the rules are very clear about leaving the track between the white lines and gaining an advantage or position. If it was a barrier or a gravel trap he wouldn't have even contemplated it.
I'm led to believe that the teams and drivers were told that using the run-off at T4 was fundamentally okay. With the way that tracks are evolving however the Stewards must be strict on this and apply the rules rigidly. And consistently, even if the circumstances are subtly different each time. Lotus and Grosjean said that he ran wide to give Massa space and to avoid contact. I don't buy that but I am disappointed that circumstances determined that he was penalised for such a brilliant piece of driving.
Other strong performances came from Mark Webber recovering from a mechanically challenged qualifying, and Jenson Button who grabbed seventh and showed very strong pace at times.
A steaming hot series of slow Hungarian GP corners are hardly likely to be fully indicative of future pace on tracks such as Spa and Monza but early indications show that the mid-season tyre changes have helped Mercedes, McLaren and Williams (who happily claimed their first point of the season), and have hurt Ferrari, Force India and Toro Rosso in particular.
It's the summer break now but there's a huge amount going on with new contracts between the teams, FOM and the FIA, not to mention Pirelli. The driver market is very busy with information and misinformation mostly waiting for Red Bull to make their mind up. And the significant challenges of the massive changes for 2014 edge ever closer.
This championship is far from over but Vettel still looks the favourite.