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GP Week : Issue 187
sebastian Vettel goes into the summer break with a 36-point advantage over Kimi Raikkonen, but while Red Bull gets busy with the fizzy they must surely be casting an eye at the pair peering over the Finn’s shoulder. Apart from his non-points finish in Spain, Lewis Hamilton has been the most consistent driver outside of Sebastian Vettel – scoring no fewer than ten points in all of his races thus far. With Mercedes on an upwards trajectory – demonstrated by its consistently quick qualifying pace and its new-found ability to manage tyres in 50̊ track temperatures – having Hamilton just ten points behind Raikkonen is no cause for complacency at Red Bull. Nico Rosberg will too become a factor. While conceivably out of the running, the Monaco Grand Prix winner has publicly stated that he will make it his mission to make life hard for Vettel, and if that means helping Lewis: game on. The situation at Lotus is identical. Raikkonen was unlucky to be caught out of sequence in Hungary, and if Grosjean hadn’t suffered a drive -through penalty via an overzealous steward decision, he too could have been challenging for victory. On the option and prime tyres, Lotus appear to be back to their Melbourne form, so if the Enstone operation runs with a little less complication, they will also be a thorn in Red Bull’s side. Alonso is just one point behind Raikkonen going into the mid-season break and will surely be lighting a few Roman candles under seats at Maranello. The Asturian leads by example, and has moved on from the early season mistakes to record four consecutive top-five finishes in a Ferrari that is far less competitive than it was when it rolled out of the blocks in Melbourne. If the Scuderia can somehow unlock performance over the next four weeks (factory shut-down excepted), Fernando’s now legendary never-say-die determiation could blow the championship wide open. Should ex-Lotus technical director James Alison be fast-tracked into the frame at Maranello, his fresh set of eyes could be just what is needed to uncover a crucial ingredient that may have been overlooked. What all of these potential challengers to Vettel have in common is a willing and able teammate. Massa, Rosberg and Grosjean all have very good reasons to play rear- gunner; Rosberg because he knows good karma will be returned, Massa and Grosjean because they need a seat in 2014. Webber has no such dilemma, and a steadily increasing frustration with reliability will only serve to vindicate any ‘anti-team’ behaviour, warranted or not. Vettel has burnt his bridges with Webber, and must defend his lead on his own. In the face of increasingly competitive opposition, he can only hope that Webber continues to have the odd technical niggle ... It's a wide open road ... 38 GPWEEK.com // 38 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> HUNGARY