||Honda F1, News, Race Reports, Other, Motorsports
||August 06, 2006 10:02
||August 07, 2006 14:38
The day opened under dramatic circumstances, after morning showers drenched the track ahead of the race. The teams were forced to make a sudden, unsighted change in strategies and put either full wet or intermediate wet tires on the cars.
After losing an engine yesterday, Jenson had to start from P14 on the seventh row. Rubens was starting from P3. The opening lap was frought with passes, spins, and wheel-banging. Rubens quickly stormed into P2 but it was Jenson who was on a real tear. He climbed quickly up the running order into the points.
Their tire strategies couldn't be more different, Jenson running the intermediate wet tires and Rubens opting for the extreme-wet spec. Rubens stopped on lap 5 with badly worn tires and got embroiled in the mid-pack madness. This twist wrecked Rubens' race and kept him off the podium. Jenson was able to run longer, with the proper tires. He finally stopped on lap 16, after making up a lot of ground on the pack (14th place to 4th by lap 7!).(editor note: hat tip to danielgr in the comments for spotting an error in my original article)
Around lap 27, Kimi Raikkonen drove into the back of Vitantonio Liuzzi, showering the track with debris and bringing out the safety car. Rubens pitted again, but Jenson stayed out. Honda was obviously taking the right strategy with Jenson's race, as he had advanced to 2nd place at this point. The safety car was out until lap 31, when the green flag dropped again. Jenson had obviously put in a load of fuel, as he ran until much later in the race.
Jenson passes David Coulthard early in the race
With Kimi out of the way, many of the championship rivals in disarray from the changing conditions, and plenty of fuel in each car, Jenson and Fernando set about trading fastest laps as the wily brit closed up on the spaniard. The key to Jenson's win was just around the corner.
The rain finally quit falling around mid-distance in the race. A huge dry line was forming around the race track, but the teams held their ground on changing to full dry tires. Ultimately it was the decision to stay out on intermediate tires that won this for Jenson. Well, that and one major lucky break.
Fernando Alonso, the championship leader and race leader (at the time), pitted on lap 52 to finally change to dry tires and get his last dose of fuel. Unfortunately, for him, the team appeared to make an error on the pitstop and the locking devices on the right rear wheel nut were not engaged. Within one lap, Alonso was stuck in a runoff area with the cranes hauling his Renault lump away.
That put Jenson in the lead - still on his intermediate tires. What followed was reminiscent of watching Michael Schumacher or Fernando Alonso manage a lead...indeed it was almost like watching Mika Hakkinen, back in the day, manage a massive lead in his McLaren-Mercedes! The Michelin intermediate wet tires were, by far, the best in the changeable conditions.
On lap 55, he made his final stop...a splash of fuel and, at last, dry tires. He kept his cool, with Nick Heidfeld right on his tail and cold tires on his car. The pit out exit lane was still dreadfully wet and several other drivers came close to stuffing it in the wall at Turn 1 after leaving the pits on dry tires. Jenson kept the car under control. After a lap or so, to get his tires up to temperature, he was back in stride.
Heidfeld stopped shortly thereafter, handing 2nd place back to a distant Pedro de La Rosa. The lead at that time was 25 seconds or so. By the next to last lap of the race, he had a 40+ second lead. What else is there to say?
Soichiro, this one's for you, sir!
The Hungarian Grand Prix
The Hungaroring, Hungary;
70 laps; 306.663km;
Weather: Wet, then dry.
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Button Honda (M) 1h52:20.941
2. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) + 30.837
3. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) + 43.822
4. Barrichello Honda (M) + 45.205
5. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) + 1 lap
6. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) + 1 lap
**. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) + 1 lap
7. Massa Ferrari (B) + 1 lap
8. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) + 3 laps
9. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) + 3 laps
10. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) + 3 laps
11. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) + 4 laps
12. Trulli Toyota (B) + 5 laps
13. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) + 5 laps
Fastest lap: de la Rosa, 1:24.315
Driver Team On lap
Alonso Renault (M) 52
Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 26
Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 26
Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 22
Fisichella Renault (M) 23
Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 7
Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 2
Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1
Post Race - Kubica disqualified for being 2kg under weight after the race