Lewis Hamilton’s future in Formula One is currently the subject of much speculation. His contract at McLaren expires at the end of the season, and he has not yet made any announcement about his plans for 2013. One possibility is a move to Ferrari, which has been generally ignored in the media due to the poor relationship Hamilton had with Fernando Alonso (Ferrari’s leading driver) at McLaren in 2007. But is it really that unlikely?
Hamilton is supremely talented. His raw speed is visible in qualifying, where he is always in with a shout of pole. In the races, his aggressive style of driving frequently translates into overtaking and if he is out in front the rest of the field has their work cut out to catch him. Hamilton is a true racer, and would be an enormous asset to any team.
Ferrari have an available seat for 2013. Felipe Massa’s contract runs out at the end of 2012 and it seems likely that the Brazilian will be replaced for next season. If Ferrari does seek to replace Massa, Hamilton must surely be right at the top of their wishlist. He will certainly bring the team victories, and is as capable as anyone of delivering championships.
Ferrari’s driver line-up is typically announced at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. Although McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has expressed confidence that his star driver will re-sign with the Woking-based team for 2013, it seems a little strange that it is taking so long to be finalised. Perhaps Hamilton has signed with Ferrari and is simply keeping the news quiet until Monza.
The only potential problem with a move to Maranello is Fernando Alonso. Hamilton and Alonso were team-mates at McLaren in 2007, and they did not share a good relationship. Hamilton is a little older and a bit more mature now, and Alonso seems much more comfortable at Ferrari than he ever did at McLaren, so the Hamilton-Alonso driver pairing could perhaps work better the second time round. The two drivers have been seen talking at a few of the races so far this season, and the relationship seems relaxed and friendly. Could it be a sign of things to come?
Hamilton in a Ferrari is an attractive proposition for Formula One. He is regarded by many as the quickest driver on the grid, and Ferrari are the ultimate Formula One team. It is a match that should, sooner or later, be made.
Budapest is the setting for the 11th round of the 2012 Formula One season. The teams have had no time to relax after the German Grand Prix last week, but can look forward to a mid-season break after this weekend.
The Hungaroring was the location for the first Formula One race behind the iron curtain in 1986, and has featured on the calendar every year since. The track is tight, narrow and twisty, with very little in the way of straights, and consequently has the second-lowest average speed on the current F1 calendar – after Monaco.
In recent years, Hungary has seen a surprising amount of drama. Felipe Massa’s near-fatal accident in 2009 happened when a spring from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn hit Massa on the head on the run up to turn 4, one of the fastest points on the track. The start-finish straight saw Michael Schumacher push Barrichello very close to the pit-wall as the German attempted to defend 10th position in the 2010 race.
Records and first-time winners
Fernando Alonso has won 30 Grands Prix, which puts him fifth on the list of most wins by a driver in Formula One history. If he wins in Budapest on Sunday, Alonso will take his 31st win on his 31st birthday to go level with fourth-placed Nigel Mansell on that same list.
Alonso’s very first Formula One victory came at the Hungarian Grand Prix of 2003. Of the current field, Jenson Button (2006) and Heikki Kovalainen (2008) also first stood on top of the podium in Hungary. Retired World Champion Damon Hill took his first victory for Williams in 1993 before winning again in 1995 and very nearly taking a surprise win for Arrows in 1997 before mechanical issues dropped him to second.
As in Germany, Pirelli are providing the teams with medium and soft compound rubber.
Who can bet against Alonso? The F2012 has, after some development, proven to be quick in all conditions, and Hungary should be no exception, particularly in the hands of the in-form Spaniard.
Red Bull should be in contention, as will McLaren. The surprise package of the weekend could be Mercedes, as the W03 has been quick on slower circuits that require good traction. Schumacher took pole in Monaco(before his grid-penalty dropped him to sixth) and Rosberg finished second in the race as Mercedes very nearly dominated proceedings in the principality. Perhaps they will be resurgent this weekend.
But Alonso is so dominant at this stage of the season that it seems very unlikely that he will be beaten to the chequered flag.
Circuit Length: 4.381 km
Race laps: 70
Race length: 306.630 km
Lap Record: 1:19.071 – Michael Schumacher / Ferrari (2004)
Race winner: Jenson Button / Mclaren
Pole position: Sebastian Vettel / Red Bull – 1:19.815
Fastest lap: Felipe Massa / Ferrari – 1:23.415
- Michael Schumacher has had the most success in Hungary, with four wins between 1994 and 2004.
- All of the multiple winners in Hungary have been World Champion in their careers
- McLaren have enjoyed much success in Hungary in recent years, winning five out of the last seven races.
Friday and Saturday are expected to be dry, with a chance of thunderstorms on Sunday. If the race is wet, the teams could suffer from a lack of wet-weather set-up time, but hopefully the rain will hold off and the race will be dry, although a wet race could shake up the order.
For the first few races of 2012, there was no dominant driver in Formula One. Lewis Hamilton was strong in qualifying, and Fernando Alonso was pushing beyond the limits of his car in the races, but neither could be said to be dominating the season.
Now, however, Alonso is the clear title favourite, 34 points clear of second-placed Mark Webber, with three wins to his name. And his strong position is mostly down to consistency. Alonso’s last six results are second (Spain), third (Monaco), fifth (Canada), first (Valencia), second (Great Britain) and first (Germany). The Spaniard is the only driver to have finished in the points at every race in 2012.
At the half-way point of the season (10 races out of 20 have been completed), it is mathematically possible for any one of the 24 drivers in the field to take the title. Realistically, however, there are only six drivers in with a chance of being 2012 World Champion: Alonso, Webber, Vettel, Raikkonen, Hamilton and Button. Although Nico Rosberg is ahead of Jenson Button in the championship, the Mercedes car does not seem to have the pace to be a title contender.
Button, seventh in the drivers’ table and 86 points behind Alonso, is the furthest behind of the realistic contenders. To translate 86 points into results, Button is three wins and a fourth place off the lead, which means he would need a very dramatic improvement in results for the second half of the season to mount a challenge. Nonetheless, it is possible, assuming Alonso slips up once or twice.
If Alonso fails to score at the next two races, he will quickly fall into the clutches of the Red Bulls behind him. He hasn’t quite run away with the championship yet. But if he continues to win races, it will not be long before Ferrari start planning the year-end party in Maranello.
Fernando Alonso has taken his third win of the season with a fairly uneventful victory from pole position in Germany.
After making a good start, Alonso led almost continually to the flag, surrendering the lead for only a couple of laps when he made his first pitstop. Although he never had to defend too vigorously, there was always a challenger close behind. In the early stages of the race it was Sebastian Vettel who was chasing the Spaniard, and then after Button passed Vettel in the second round of pitstops, the Briton kept Alonso honest until Vettel took the place back while he was outside the limits of the track. The stewards ruled that Vettel’s pass was illegal, and he was handed a 20-second penalty after the race was completed, but he crossed the line second with Button close behind in third.
Kimi Raikkonen came home fourth after a fairly strong afternoon that included a good pass on Michael Schumacher. Kamui Kobayashi finished fifth ahead of his Sauber team-mate Sergio Perez, and the pair of them were followed by Schumacher, who struggled for pace over the race distance but managed to collect his 77th career fastest lap. Mark Webber came home eighth after a race in which he lacked performance for no apparent reason. Nico Hulkenberg finished ninth for Force India followed by the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in tenth.
Lewis Hamilton was hoping for a strong race in dry conditions after struggling in yesterday’s wet qualifying session, but the McLaren driver was unfortunate to pick up a puncture in the early stages of the race that put him out of contention. He eventually retired his car with 11 laps remaining after providing some entertainment by passing Sebastian Vettel to unlap himself. Despite Hamilton’s tough day the team will be reassured by the pace of the car after a significant upgrade for this race.
There were no points for Williams and Toro Rosso today, continuing the run of bad form both teams have experienced recently. Pastor Maldonado in particular must be wondering what he has to do to achieve decent results – since winning in Barcelona over two months ago, the Venezuelan has not finished in the top ten.
Vettel’s post-race penalty pushes him back to fifth position, giving Kimi Raikkonen his fourth podium of the season, and promoting Kamui Kobayashi to fourth place. Vettel is gradually falling back in the Drivers’ Championship, a situation he will want to remedy in a hurry.
Alonso has now extended his championship lead to 34 points over Mark Webber, with Vettel a further ten points back. Kimi Raikkonen has moved up into fourth place in the table, albeit 56 points behind Alonso.
Formula One now heads to Budapest for next week’s Hungarian Grand Prix. Alonso will be keen to consolidate his championship lead ahead of the mid-season break, but he will face stiff competition from Red Bull and the resurgent McLarens.