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GP Week : Issue 56
>>F1HUNGARY T HE last time Britain had a Formula 1 world champion, his season as reigning champ was without doubt his toughest. In a car that struggled for points at every circuit, it all came together for him with a simply magnificent drive at the Hungarian Grand Prix. And so it came to pass that, 12 years on from Damon Hill’s heroics at the wheel of the Arrows, it was to be in Budapest that Lewis Hamilton finally stood back on an F1 podium for the very first time in his year as reigning champ. In so doing he had overtaken the man who had won the last Grand Prix and who was driving arguably the best car in Formula 1. He had overcome his tyredegradation demons. And he had made history as the first driver to win an F1 race aided by KERS. Hamilton had looked fast all weekend, but it was to be a weekend that was overshadowed by a freak accident befalling Felipe Massa, Hamilton’s 2008 championship rival. With Massa in a medically-induced coma at hospital on Sunday, the race had a downbeat feel to it... but oddly, for Hungary, the racing actually turned out to be pretty good. Fernando Alonso screamed away from his first pole of the season and shot off into the lead. Behind him, the KERSenabled McLaren of Hamilton almost managed to slip into second, but some bold driving from Mark Webber saw the Aussie hold P2, with Hamilton on his rear wing and gunning for a way through. That move came on lap five, with a stunning move around the outside of Turn 2. Hamilton set off after his old nemesis Alonso, cutting the gap back by half a second a lap until Alonso pitted on lap 13. It was here that Alonso’s race went belly up as the team released him back onto the track with his front right wheel barely attached. Eventually it flew off his Renault, and landed his team in some very hot water. Back out on track Webber and Raikkonen pitted on lap 20 from second and third, but Webber’s release was held up with a slow lifting of the fuel hose and the duo almost collided. Raikkonen kept his foot down however and took second position. And that was the podium. Despite a slow getaway from his second stop, Raikkonen never looked like being troubled by Webber for the rest of the race. Nico Rosberg had another impressive race, taking his second fourth position in a row, while Heikki Kovalainen also had a much improved race to take fifth on the track where he took his maiden F1 win one year ago. Sixth and eight went to the Toyotas of Glock and Trulli after both had failed to reach the top ten in qualifying, much to their obvious delight. Stuck between them was championship-leader Jenson Button. After his team-mate’s comments that Germany had been a good example of how to lose a race, Button must be starting to feel that Brawn is starting to become adept at losing championships too. They have a lot of work to do in the three week break. Above it all however rose Hamilton. His drive had been the drive of a champion, and not the first we’ve seen from him this year, either. Only this time, it really mattered. But to Lewis. There was only one thing on his mind: “I’ve had a great relationship with Felipe for quite a few years now and some great battles with him,” he said after the race. “To not see him with us today was definitely sad to see but I’m glad that the surgery went well and we’re just going to keep him in our thoughts and prayers.” He spoke for everyone. 27