Hungarian GP: Thoughts on the start

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Lewis Hamilton starts from his tenth career pole position at the Hungaroring and has an excellent chance of extending his championship advantage.

Behind him the dusty condition of the right-hand side of the track could play a major role in deciding who takes up the chase of Hamilton – and whether Felipe Massa can challenge for victory.

Hamilton will not want a repeat of Romain Grosjean’s start from pole position in yesterday’s GP2 feature race. The driver for Hamilton’s former team ART was sixth by turn two.

Unless Hamilton repeats the error he made at the start at Bahrain that doesn’t look very likely. But on past form Heikki Kovalainen is going to have a difficult job holding onto second.

The off-line, even-numbered side of the grid is particularly dirty and dusty at the Hockenheimring. As Mark Webber (eighth) admits:

I’m disappointed I’m on the wrong side of the grid, an odd number is always better, but we definitely have a chance to get something from where we are, so we’ll see how we go tomorrow.

Last year Kimi Raikkonen, who started third, had no difficulty whatsoever in picking off Nick Heidfeld, who started second (and picked up an award for it, surprisingly). But just as Kovalaien will have to watch out for third-placed Felipe Massa at the start, so Raikkonen (sixth) will be worried about Fernando Alonso (seventh) especially as the Renault is not likely to have good race pace.

Timo Glock starts a career-best fifth – but how heavily fuelled is the Toyota? Regardless, Raikkonen will be desperate for an opportunity to pounce on the rookie on the first lap and not spend a stint stuck behind him.

Nick Heidfeld, however, faces a long slog from 15th on the grid. Felipe Massa started 14th last year and only gained one place in the whole race. Can Heidfeld do better?

2008 Hungarian Grand Prix grid

1. Lewis Hamilton 1’20.899
2. Heikki Kovalainen 1’21.140
3. Felipe Massa 1’21.181
4. Robert Kubica 1’21.281
5. Timo Glock 1’21.326
6. Kimi Raikkonen 1’21.516
7. Fernando Alonso 1’21.698
8. Mark Webber 1’21.732
9. Jarno Trulli 1’21.767
10. Nelson Piquet Jnr 1’22.371
11. Sebastian Vettel 1’20.144
12. Jenson Button 1’20.332
13. David Coulthard 1’20.502
14. Nico Rosberg no time
15. Nick Heidfeld 1’21.045
16. Kazuki Nakajima 1’21.085
17. Rubens Barrichello 1’21.332
18. Giancarlo Fisichella 1’21.670
19. Sebastien Bourdais 1’20.963*
20. Adrian Sutil 1’22.113

*five place penalty

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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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14 comments on “Hungarian GP: Thoughts on the start”

  1. That odd / even side of the grid will be crucial.

    Nick is a much better overtaker than Massa is though.

  2. Keith, why not we start making predictions over positions after Turn 2? ;)

  3. As much as I thought Bourdais’ penalty was unnecessary, I must confess to being glad that he received it – if only for Rosberg and Williams’ sakes. Nico has been pretty good at gaining places on the first lap (at least in the first 1/3 – 1/2 of the season), so to have him moved from 14th to 13th onto the clean side of the grid could mean the difference between points or not for Williams in Hungary. And, if you believe them, Nico’s car is much quicker than Q1 showed, so here’s hoping!

    Fingers crossed for a good race. Kovi for the win!!!

  4. I shall be interested to see how Heikki fares… he’s been a bit slow on quite a number of occasions…

  5. Oh, and just a thought. If Hamilton heads home after another processional win today, I think these performances should officially be called “Hammolitions” – with two m’s for aesthetics.

  6. For a Kovi win here, he needs to get past Lewis.. Will Ron allow him to do that?????? ;)

  7. Short answer is no, but the long answer is about 70 laps.

  8. Paul Sainsbury
    3rd August 2008, 11:54

    MaClaren and Williams are famously the most fair teams to both of their drivers. Heikki will be free to race Lewis if he can keep up with him. I think he is sensible enough not to do anything silly though.

  9. Expect to see Ron out on track before the start, with a broom – sweeping the dirt on to the front of grid position 3 !

  10. I think Kimi getting past Glock at the start is going to be crucial. If Alonso is close to the Ferrari going into the first corner, then I expect the Renault to get past or clash with Kimi trying as Alonso will be running lighter.

    Lewis should get a clean start. Kovalainen starting from the unrubbered pit side of the track will have his hands too full holding off Massa to worry his team mate.

    Still think the option tyre is going to cause issues, but expect a very long middle stint from Hamilton to put off having to use the super-soft as long as possible.

    Given the track temperature at Hungary hovering around the 45°C mark, I still think Bridgestone made a duff choice with the super-soft for this weekend.

    Better savour this one folks, we got the summer break coming up.


  11. Has Heikki made a decent start lately?….

  12. That is the point, Paul, “sensible enough not to do anything silly”.. Just let us imagine Heikki in race lead, and Lewis just behind him and both in a position for a wheel to wheel drive for an exciting finish with Massa closely behind. Will Kovi not be told to let Lewis past and hold Massa or will Kovi do this all himself being “sensible enough”?

  13. Paul Sainsbury
    3rd August 2008, 12:11

    @ Nirupam.

    I think Heikki would fight if he was in a position to do so, but sure, he would probably be wise enough to think long term, and not do anything detrimental to the team.

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