For a while there it looked liked the “Balls up of Box Hill” all over again; Plan B replacing Plan A until “no, hang-on, we’ll stick with Plan A”; a track way too narrow to allow any proper shuffling of the pack; and an overwhelming British favourite beaten by a returnee with a controversial past… Almost.
Saturday’s Olympic road race cycling final was, in the end, not to be repeated and ‘Team GB F1’ got its man to the front and kept him there. Lewis Hamilton and McLaren now have five weeks to contemplate the fight of their lives, but to judge by their form this weekend, they are more than up for it: Fernando and Ferrari, you haven’t won this one yet.
It wasn’t the most exciting Grand Prix was it? The Ladies Road Race was possibly the better viewing, what with the rain and Lizzie Armitstead making up for some of Saturday’s disappointment. Once it became clear that Kimi Raikkonen was not even going to catch Lewis, let alone pass him, it was possibly the least compelling race this year.
Michael Schumacher caused the first start to be aborted then promptly appeared to switched off his engine, obliging him to start in the pits only to drive to fast in the pit line, obliging him to make yet another visit… Is it just us, or should he of all people really know better?
When the race did get underway it was good start for both Hamilton and Jenson Button who hung on to pass Sebastian Vettel for third place at the end of the first lap. Quite how he ended up back in sixth at the flag we haven’t quite worked out, but it was interesting to hear the pits to car report a conversation something along the lines of (assertive McLaren voice) “Jenson, switch to Plan B, okay”, (JB) “Really? Are you sure?” (less assertive McLaren voice) “Well not really, what do you think? Shall we just stick with Plan A, then…? Jenson?”.
No wonder Jenson is clearly having some fun, helping to stir up rumours he will join Fernando Alonso at Ferrari next year.
Mind you, McLaren’s domestics were not half as entertaining as Red Bull’s. Sebastian Vettel needed taking down a peg when he came on the radio and demanded his team did something clever to make him less far off the lead. You could hear him stamping his foot in the cockpit. The team responded the only way they could. They told him to drive faster.
Vettel dragged the RB8 home fourth behind Lewis and Kimi and Romain Grosjean in the other Lotus. Lotus boss Eric Boulier must have been pleased with two cars on the podium especially as Hungary marked the moment in Kimi and RoGros’ relationship when the two almost took each other out for the first time. And that’s probably why Kimi is also talking to Ferrari.
Alonso himself had his quietest race of the year, bringing the F2012 home fifth ahead of Button. Rounding off the top ten then were Bruno Senna in his best race this year by a mile, Webber from 11th on then grid, Massa (from seventh) and Rosberg (from 13th). You can see precisely why Ferrari is talking to just about everyone from that result.
A less than sparkling race then, but one that sets up the last nine races of the year perfectly. We’ll be back to talk about that tomorrow, and give our half-term report…