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GP Week : Issue 225
with a rear suspension failure that left Sergio Perez upside down in opening practice. When Hulkenberg’s front wing simply fell off at the fastest point of the circuit the team had little choice but to call Perez in. Force India made the correct decision as it put its drivers above world championship points. Hulkenberg’s wing littered the circuit with debris which couldn’t be covered under a virtual safety car, forcing race control to send the real thing on track and in a heart-beat changing what had been a processional and predictable race into one of the most chaotic and action packed 30 laps of the season. With lapped cars allowed through the advantage Vettel had built was eliminated. He was shadowed by an ailing Raikkonen who’d had his MGU-K fail while Rosberg, Hamilton and a feisty Daniel Ricciardo queued up behind. The timing of the safety car hurt Ferrari. Running well on the soft compound tyres, they’d planned to extend the middle stint and sprint home on the slower, medium compound tyres knowing Mercedes had its number in a head to head fight. Of the top five only Ricciardo had soft compound tyres, giving the Australian the advantage with more grip than those ahead. It was a contra strategy that in normal racing conditions would have netted a solid haul of points but with the safety car Ricciardo held a slim chance of winning. At the restart Rosberg quickly despatched Raikkonen, who had no pace without his MGU-K and was retired from the race soon after, while Ricciardo and Hamilton locked horns and made contact. It damaged the Mercedes front wing and gave Daniil Kvyat an opportunity to sneak by – a move for which he was later penalised for gaining an advantage after leaving the track. Hamilton was forced to pit, dropping down the order at a time when he’d been poised to make amends for his poor opening lap. Instead he fell out of the points, with salt rubbed into the wound when officials decided he’d not left Ricciardo enough racing room. The drive-through was a harsh penalty. Hamilton was clearly at close to full lock as he rounded the first turn, understeer sliding him into Ricciardo. It was clumsy from Hamilton but certainly not deliberate and should perhaps have been left as a racing incident. But, having penalised Pastor Maldonado earlier in the race one could argue the stewards needed to punish Hamilton to remain consistent. However, in Maldonado’s case the circumstances were different. As he battled with Perez the Venezuelan could be seen to open the steering to drive his Lotus to the outside of the circuit and scare Perez off the track. To his credit the Mexican held his ground, even though the contact spun the Force India. Poor doesn’t go far enough in the description of Maldonado’s race. It was not the performance of a Formula One standard driver, and well below what Maldonado is capable of. After the Perez incident he was also penalised for speeding in the pit lane, for which he was given another drive-through penalty, before completing the hat-trick after he was caught passing under the safety car. Three penalties, all for driver errors. Maldonado might feel he’s been hard done by but the decisions were fair and correct and he can have absolutely no complaint for the second two at very least. Compounding Lotus’ day was Romain Grosjean receiving a five- second penalty for an unsafe release that saw him race Felipe Massa out of the pits as the Sauber crew emerged to ser vice one of its cars. From a race they 23 GPWEEK.com // 23 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> HUNGARY PARTNERS: