Lewis Hamilton to score a hat trick? (2008 Hungarian Grand Prix preview)

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Lewis Hamilton aims for his third F1 win in a row in Hungary

McLaren have nosed ahead of the opposition in the past few weeks with Lewis Hamilton scoring a pair of emphatic wins at Silverstone and Hockenheim.

Testing last week suggested the team will keep their advantage at the next round in Hungary. Can Hamilton become the first man in two years to win three successive races?

After the German Grand Prix it was clear several particular innovations had handed the initiative to McLaren. Building a fast car is only half the job, however, and they will need to capitalise on their speed advantage.

The Hungaroring is a favourable track for that, however, as it is tight, aerodynamically critical, and overtaking is very difficult. Pole position is critical – hence the contretemps between the two McLaren drivers here last year the team will not want reminding of.

The team looked strong again in the four-day test at Jerez last week. Heikki Kovalainen was the fastest driver over the four days as McLaren became the first team to try their own version of BMW’s ‘antler’ wings mounted halfway down the front nose. They may make an appearance at the Hungaroring along with McLaren’s tested but yet unraced version of Red Bull’s ‘shark fin’ extended engine cover.

McLaren being fast doesn’t automatically mean Hamilton will win, of course, but Kovalainen has been struggling to stay as close to his pace in the second half of the season as he was earlier in the year. However Ron Dennis has resisted calls from the likes of Jackie Stewart to force Kovalainen into a supporting role to Hamilton’s title bid.

But McLaren definitely have the momentum at the moment and will want to capitalise on it this weekend ahead of the three-week break that follows which may give their rivals time to regroup.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “Lewis Hamilton to score a hat trick? (2008 Hungarian Grand Prix preview)”

  1. I think he has to be favourite but only just. It only takes a minor temperature change to make all the test data useless.

    As for Kovi, I think he has put himself into a supporting role already.

  2. William Wilgus
    28th July 2008, 14:24

    I’d guess that it depends on McLaren being able to keep their engine-mapping paddles AND Ferrari et. al. NOT having them.

    (So much for all the garbage about what a magnificent drive Hamilton had in Germany: It was the paddles.)

  3. I agree with William re: the “legality” of the steering wheel paddles.
    The decision on the “legality” of Hamilton’s engine that the FIA took away last weekend to examine might have an effect on the outcome of the championship, too.

  4. Scott Joslin
    28th July 2008, 15:24

    I agree, on the face of it, Mclaren should be favorites, however the heat and the way Lewis cooks his tyres could mean Ferrari have reason to believe they can grab a win in Hungary – but they must sort out their handling gremlins from the last race.

  5. Oh I know, the paddles were soley doen to Hamilton’s passes weren’t they?

    He didn’t need any talent their, just click a couple of buttons and he passed Massa and Piquet. I may become an F1 driver, sounds easy!

  6. Christopher Wait
    28th July 2008, 15:49

    The rules of this web forum prohibit swearing & insults…so i shall refrain from such activities. Formula 1 used to be about innovation. The Fiat has a hole in its nose, the BMW has antlers, Honda have some weird horns stuck on the front of theirs and almost all the teams have now tested or implemented the shark fin engine cover. To say the Mclaren paddles are the only reason Hamilton has won shows your lack of appreciation & knowledge of the sport and a move to legislate against them would serve as a massive disincentive to innovate… i wonder if you will say this when Alonso & the Fiat boys have a similar system in a couple of weeks…simpleton

  7. McLaren steering wheels is legal. The device was presented to Mr. Charly Whyting before been used:


    QUOTE (poorly translated):

    “…The system was previously delivered to Charly Whyting and used only after approbation. Mclaren, after last year´s political debacle, don´t want to damage their reputation again…”

    “…The history is not new and just gained such ´sensational´ dimension because Hamilton dominated the last two races…”




    “…The FIA has begun its annual routine random checks on all Formula One engines, with Mercedes-Benz the first manufacturer whose power unit will be examined…”

    “…That process began after Hockenheim, with Lewis Hamilton’s engine being the first to be sealed by the FIA so its checks can be conducted. Inspection of other manufacturers’ engines will take place over the remainder of the season…”

  8. Just what is the status on the extra paddles? I’ve seen a wide variety of opinions regarding them, but nothing definitive. Who can help me understand this?

  9. Lewis and McLaren have had a slow corner advantage over Ferrari for ages. As Hungary is ALL slow corners there can only be one winner, paddles or no paddles.

    Maybe he will need the paddles if it rains?

  10. Don – there’s more information here especially in the comments: McLaren’s technical innovations have put the MP4/23 ahead of the pack

  11. You have to think Lewis will win this race. McLaren have a history of winning in Hungary and this year’s McLaren is going to be suited to it more than Ferrari. Add to that the fact that Lewis is flying and the Ferrari drivers are all over the place and it just has to be a McLaren win.

    I think Heikki is better than he appears just now and I hope McLaren keep him for next year but I agree with Jackie Stewart that it is time he supported Lewis’s championship bid as he has no real chance of winning it himself.

    Yes William Wilgus is right it was the paddles. Nothing else on the car contributed anything and the drivers did nothing but sit there and work paddles. For the first ten laps Lewis was averaging 1.2 seconds a lap faster than Heikki. Clearly when it comes to working paddles there is no-one to touch him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ferrari are testing all their employees now to find who can flick paddles fastest. They probably have a typist with lightning quick fingers who would be a second or two faster than Lewis. Maybe Schumacher is practising his flicking now. If Ross Brawn was still at Ferrari he would probably be discussing with Rory Byrne how to build an electronic paddle flicker.

    I wouldn’t accept something is legal because Charlie Whiting says so. He said for 18 months that mass dampers were legal then he was over-ruled. Last season despite being tipped off about it he said Ferrari’s blatantly illegal floor was legal. By the next race it wasn’t. Max will be feeling invulnerable now and it wouldn’t surprise me if he banned them and decided that all points scored with them were removed. His attention has been diverted from F1 for the first half of the season and his team are clearly suffering without his assistance.

  12. I think Hamilton is still the favourite to win at the Hungaroring. With McLaren on top form at the moment as well as Lewis, I would imagine they’ll be tough to beat. However if Ferrari can find that pace that went missing not so long back then I wouldn’t count them out of contention. Plus if it remains as warm as it is in that part of Europe at the moment(as Scott Joslin said) that will play into Ferrari’s hands too. Still, I agree with Keith, the smart money’s on Hamilton.

    p.s. Absolutely loved the fact that Big Ron told old JS where to stick his opinions. I’m not really a fan of Big Ron but he definitely went up in my books after I read that…

  13. I’ll wager all comers that the paddles will be declared illegal during Hungarian GP scrutineering. Ferrari have to be kept in the competition and that’s the FIA main task, isn’t it.

    What kind of chaos that would cause McLaren and the impact on the results? I’d like to think Lewis could still pull off the win, but who knows?

    Any takers?

  14. GeorgeK, as much as we don’t want this to happen, you could be right. You never know what can happen in F1, and if anything, Hungary has given us all sorts of penalty dramas for 2 years straight now!

  15. GeorgeK: I really hope you’re wrong about the FIA potentially stepping in to rig yet another championship but I have a horrible feeling you’re not.

  16. Well… be it dry or wet, with McLaren having definite edge over the rest, Lewis should not have any problem wining at Hungary. In fact with little help from big Ron, KOVI should make it 1-2 for McLaren.
    Given the current scenario, I dont think Lewis will not get so much of chance for a hattrick in near future.

  17. It should be closer than the romp at Hockenheim, but I can’t see how Lewis will not win this race too. Ferrari have shown that they are strong in the so-called slow circuits, and were very competitive in Monaco and Montreal (Kimi was going to win that race, bar the pit ‘accident’). Still, McLaren are a couple of steps ahead, and Lewis is finely tuned to his MP4/23. A hat-trick it will be.

  18. Hamilton engine being taken away is part of the annual FIA engine checks, not because they suspect anything – see autosport here – http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/69428

    Do we know when McLaren started using these ‘extra’ paddles?
    Is Hamilton the only one to use them?

  19. #1 Andrew – formula 1 cars are finely tuned yes, but not that finely tuned to operate in a razor thin temperature corridor!! However, Ferrari are working at making a recovery that is for sure – is two weeks enough?

  20. I dont see any reason why the paddles shouldn’t be declared illegal and if they are, how can you label it FIA “fiddling”? If it’s against the rules it’s against the rules.

    I doubt there will be any action though, the FIA havent done anything about the teams’ method for simulating launch control so why would they attack these paddles?

  21. When I say minor I mean air temperature. Say 7-10 degrees which I think, though I may be wrong, has a much more substantial effect on track temperature.

    I won’t pretend to understand the physics but the comentary over the past few races suggests to me that McLaren have an advantage in cooler temperatures because they work the tyres harder. This was given as a negative point for Ferrari several times by the ITV commentators.

    If that is nonsense I would be happy to be corrected though.

  22. The paddles have been in use since the start of the season. Stop making a mountain out of a mole. On top of that teams like Honda, Renault and Ferrari have their own way of mapping with a knob on the steering wheel. McLaren just found a better solution.

    As for the race, it should be close. Never discount the Ferraris.

  23. Ferrari have fumbled the ball. A couple more and they will drop it.

    I must say that Hamilton and Mclaren have done a great job.

  24. Anyone feel that forcing McLaren ( and others ) add a support to the bridge wing, actually made the car much faster? Canada was the first race with the support and ever since then the car has been flying. (apart from the race in france where we will never know McLarens true pace due to the penalties). Spa will be the ultimate test, if they can beat the Ferraris there then Lewis has a great chance at the WDC.

  25. Its funny someone mentioned paddles and doesn’t even state what it does. All the cars have paddles, some cars have more paddles than the others. If a team puts a switch on the paddle instead of underneath a button, does that make the car illegal? Please lets not claim to be experts when we don’t even understand the intricacies of the sport.

  26. As everybody said ‘Mclaren looks to have an advantage ‘ right now . As Internet said , spa will be the ultimate test. Fighting with ferrari’s at a normal day at normal circumstances is a challenging task for every other car in the circuit . Guys at tfossi’s camp are not dumb, they may find some thing better which helps to improve there performance better

  27. Anyone else gets annoyed by the photo for this topic. I find it very irritating when I’d like to like Lewis a little more than I do now, and it’s hard to looking at that. LOL.

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