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GP Week : Issue 164
22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: relax, who prompted Lewis to complain about mirror-blind back-markers (on a day when the behaviour of the slower cars – and the marshalling – to me seemed exemplary). Roman it was, when still on Pirelli options for the second stint, who pushed Lewis (now on primes) even harder, forever filling his mirrors, oversteer jink here, slight brake lock-up there. Jenson, smooth and long-cornering, lay third in the McLaren, frustrating the World Champion, Sebastian Vettel. And then, watching it all from afar, and recovering from some early-lap confusion with his KERS unit, came Kimi. It’s not easy being a Number Two when you are clearly the Number One. It’s not easy standing aside. And so Kimi responded with all the great attributes he still owns – with just about everything that Lewis owns (minus a tenth or three) but with his own brand of super-svelte tyre management born of his own, unique, energy manipulation. What we saw from Lewis and Kimi in Hungary came from what driver simulators can never provide: it came from feeling the surface of the road, lap after constantly-changing lap. Kimi was able to extend his first (full- tank) stint by only one lap relative to his nearest benchmark (Romain) – which gave him two laps longer than Lewis on that first set of options. The second, also on Pirelli options, was Klassic Kimi. He always gave himself free air; he made no errors; and he maximised the tyre cycle – no: he perfected it, although the adjectives ‘maximise’ and ‘perfect’ in this case do an injustice to his driving. His physical reward was a traffic-free road while all ahead of him (except Lewis) stopped for more tyres and – as is regularly the case in Hungary – bunches of slower laps behind (alternative strategy) traffic. Seb Vettel (on options) lost time behind Jenson (when he was on primes); Romain gave back time behind a pit-lane starting (and speeding!) Michael Schumacher; Fernando was held up by Sergio Perez; and Jenson’s three- stop race dried up behind Bruno Senna (two-stop with long middle stint). Kimi, though, regained virtually all of the ground he lost in a difficult stint one (thanks to his relatively poor grid position). He took the lead when Lewis stopped – and still the road ahead of him was traffic-free. Two, three, four, five: for five laps Kimi led in Hungary. Only Lewis at that point could match him for pace. Then Kimi stopped for his final set of primes. Then came the Kimi moment of the race. He was accelerating hard down the hill, towards Turn One, as Romain was approaching the braking area in seventh gear. Kimi dived for the inside, briefly locking his inside front. Romain, his tyres now fully up to temperature, went round on the outside. He had shown up the old master in qualifying (again). He was, is and forever will be the new young hope for all of France. Only the week before he had rejected an offer of advice from Sir Jackie Stewart (who knows all about mentoring talented young Frenchmen!). Romain, though, doesn’t need mentoring. He is his engineer’s man. This is 2012, not 1972. Kimi, placing his car perfectly, ate up all of the exit (and a little bit more, above). Romain had no option but to back off, ride the Astroturf and to let him go. And, possibly, to watch. As if in defiance, Romain then massively locked his suddenly-unloaded, inside left into Turn Two. Kimi – driving from the centre of the car, rather than over the front wheels (as SJYS likes to put it), never looked more composed. Kimi’s primes were five laps fresher than those of Lewis – but Lewis’ primes were new; Kimi’s were scrubbed. Kimi pushed him hard (while always leaving a little bit of free air) but Lewis, in these final stages, was superb. As with Vettel in Bahrain, Kimi could only wait and admire. Lewis crossed the line to win by just over a second; Romain (who began also to make mistakes in the closing laps, as reactionary drivers as quick as he will inevitably do when they struggle with tyre deg and with the frustration of having been displaced) was a further nine As he emerged from the pits, Raikkonen (right) made it very clear who had the right of way ... F1 >>> BUDAPEST