Hamilton's get out of jail card in Hungary
PUBLISHED: 13:58 06 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:20 26 October 2009
HOCH ZWEI / Michael Kunkel
BBC Radio 5-live F1 commentator David Croft looks back on events at the Hungaroring SO it should have been the perfect end to the perfect weekend. A hat-trick of victories so he could go into the summer break with a clear lead in the World Drivers Cham
BBC Radio 5-live F1 commentator David Croft looks back on events at the Hungaroring
SO it should have been the perfect end to the perfect weekend.
A hat-trick of victories so he could go into the summer break with a clear lead in the World Drivers' Championship, leaving his rivals reeling from another hammering.
But Formula 1 is a sport and sport doesn't always go according to plan, despite the best efforts of the strategy men.
You can plan for pretty much every eventuality, except in Lewis Hamilton's case a puncture and a dodgy start.
In fact, I'm told by those that crunch the numbers and work these things out that Lewis could have come out ahead of Felipe Massa after the second round of pit stops due to having more fuel on board for his middle stint.
A handy piece of information but rendered useless after one of the 2,200 Bridgestone tyres on duty in Budapest wilted in the heat.
At that moment the fear must have been that from a position of absolute authority Lewis was now going to leave Hungary empty-handed, something neither he nor the team could afford.
But thanks to some excellent driving Lewis managed to nurse the McLaren back to the pits for some fresh rubber, despite going off the track at least twice as he crawled around.
With overtaking impossible on this circuit, Lewis was forced to wait for those ahead of him to pit before moving up the field and into fifth place.
Those four points weren't going to be enough to preserve his championship lead though, as Massa was still out in front and looking imperious, his pace as blistering as the heat in this dust bowl of a venue.
But then came the biggest 'Get Out Of Jail Free' card that Lewis has been handed in his F1 career so far.
Three laps from the end Massa's Ferrari engine gave up the fight and exploded in a burst of white smoke just yards from the finish line.
Three laps before he would take over as the championship leader once again all Massa's hard work was undone in the most spectacular of ways.
So it was hardly surprising that Lewis wasn't too downbeat when he spoke to BBC Radio 5-live after the race.
In fact, he was almost chirpy as he paid tribute to his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, who moments before claimed his first grand prix win, incidentally becoming the 100th different driver to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix.
It struck me as the most complete contrast to the emotions and events of Hungary in 2007.
The harmony of 2008 grated Fernando Alonso so much that he felt he just had to have a little dig at his former employers, claiming that he might not be challenging for the title at the moment but had he stayed on with the British team he wouldn't be challenging either.
The inference being that only one man is allowed to be champion and that's Lewis, not his team-mate.
Sometimes Fernando just needs to let things go and whilst the blame for the problems of last year can be attributed to many people, I see no point in raking up the muck 12 months on.
Aside from the puncture, the only downside to Hamilton's race was the way Felipe Massa managed to barge past him at the start.
I'm not sure if the British driver wasn't caught napping by the Brazilian, who really shouldn't have got alongside Lewis before turn one from his starting point of third on the grid.
It was a magnificent and brave spot of overtaking and Massa should be applauded for it.
Lewis though needs to make sure it doesn't happen again.
He stated a fortnight previously that he would never be passed by a Ferrari the way he got past Felipe in Hockenheim.
It took just one race for Ferrari to prove him wrong and although McLaren changed their strategy to give their man a fighting chance of leading later on, had Lewis got away to the start they expect from him, they wouldn't have needed to.