Hamilton's Hungarian fifth place a 'truly impressive result'
PUBLISHED: 13:30 08 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:39 26 October 2009
HOCH ZWEI / Michael Kunkel
LEWIS Hamilton s fifth place at the Hungarian Grand Prix was a truly impressive result , according to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes chief Martin Whitmarsh. Hamilton was well placed in second position less than 10 seconds behind race leader at the time Felipe
LEWIS Hamilton's fifth place at the Hungarian Grand Prix was a 'truly impressive result', according to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes chief Martin Whitmarsh.
Hamilton was well placed in second position less than 10 seconds behind race leader at the time Felipe Massa, before disaster struck and he suffered a tyre puncture.
This in turn relegated him to 11th position following the exit from the pits after the repair, so a fifth-place finish was seen as a success by Whitmarsh.
And despite the team receiving criticism for appearing to be second best to Ferrari during the race, Whitmarsh explained that McLaren had a solid plan of action.
He said: "Clearly, Felipe was strong in Budapest, particularly in the early part of the race and we come away from Hungary with a clear intention of understanding where that perceived uplift of performance came from.
"But the reality is that Lewis's pace behind Felipe during the first stint was very respectable.
"He was able to peg him to around the three-second mark until the first pitstops, and we weren't unduly concerned about the Ferrari's pace.
"In our second stint, I think we started to turn our fortunes around. We pitted later than Felipe, fuelled Lewis significantly longer than the Ferrari and had a performance advantage, despite the heavier fuel-load.
"We felt confident that we would have been in a significantly stronger position going into the last stint but, unfortunately, Lewis's tyre problem not only forced him to complete the best part of a lap on a flat tyre, but also caused him to pit earlier than anticipated."
With Massa seemingly on course for a victory that would have put the Brazilian at the top of the drivers' standings and defending champion Kimi Raikkonen comfortably in the top four, it appeared it was going to be a Ferrari success story.
Yet more drama unfolded when, with only three laps to go, Massa suffered engine failure and was forced to retire from the race, and all of a sudden despite Hamilton's own problems, the day wasn't turning out quite as bad as it appeared.
The Tewin hero, following his tyre problem, was left to concentrate on getting into the points which he did with little fuss.
Whitmarsh added: "This (the puncture) not only negated the fuel advantage he (Lewis) was originally carrying but forced him to look after his super-soft tyres over a far longer stint than we had originally anticipated.
"That he managed to do that so effortlessly is a great testament to his presence of mind, and his fifth position, during an afternoon of damage-limitation, was a truly impressive result."
The racing takes a break now, with the next round to take place at the new street circuit of Valencia in the European Grand Prix on August 24.