Once again the Ferraris found the cooler conditions not to their liking.
Alonso had an eventful race with a few off-track moments but survived to claim third. Team mate Massa had a brush with the barriers which left him sixth.
|Fernando Alonso||Felipe Massa|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’20.365 (+0.015)||1’20.350|
Ferrari drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
Topped Q1 and Q2 but slumped to fifth in Q3, unable to better or even match his Q2 time.
But he felt that even with a perfect lap he could have done no better than third. He said: “It seems that when it’s time for Q3, Red Bull has a magic button that suddenly makes them go faster, but then it seems the button switches off in the race!”
Starting on the drier side of the grid, Alonso pulled away from Massa straight away at the start. But they both struggled for traction at the exit of turn one and the two Mercedes drove straight past them.
Alonso fended off Mark Webber and set off after Schumacher. He very nearly took his 2006 championship rival on the outside of turn 11, but eventually settled for a more conventional pass on the inside of the last corner.
Alonso made a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes in the opening phase of the race which delayed his pursuit of the Mercedes. He briefly fell behind Massa at one point, but his team mate made no effort to keep Alonso behind. By lap nine he was up to fourth place having passed Nico Rosberg twice.
Three laps later he was in for slicks. But the team had to hold him in his pit box as a Mercedes came past, and as he returned to the track he had Webber on his tail.
Webber had pitted two laps before Alonso used the advantage of his warmer tyres to out-accelerate the Ferrari from turn one and take the place.
They pitted together on lap 25, leaving Alonso stuck behind the Red Bull for another stint. “I think I lost half a minute behind Webber at the beginning of the race,” he said afterwards.
The team used an aggressive strategy to try to get Alonso ahead, bringing him in again after just 11 laps.
He switched to super-soft tyres, which he later accepted might have been a mistake: “Maybe the soft tyre was better than the supersoft,, especially for second or third stint, looking at the very high degradation.”
“But we found ourselves behind Mark for two stints and we had to anticipate the stops a lot so we came to overtake him.”
It got Alonso in front – but it left him needing another pit stop. It’s hard to judge how well it would have worked out for him had the track stayed dry as both Webber and Lewis Hamilton lost time pitting for intermediates when the rain arrived.
Alonso had just pitted for soft tyres when the rain came so he was inclined to stick with the tyres he’d got – which proved to be the right decision.
He closed on Vettel during the final stint but a spin at turn 12 cost him more time, leaving him third.
Alonso said he was happy with the result: “Again, we recovered two positions in the race and we were able to jump on the podium for the fourth consecutive race, I think. This is good again for us.
“The weekend was maybe not as expected: we maybe expected hotter temperature and more problems with degradation for our main competitors, but in the end it didn’t go like that.
“I think we have another – for the third consecutive time – difficult conditions for us, cold conditions and I think we reached another podium which is a good target for us every weekend. ”
Massa looked ragged on his first laps on the super-soft tyres in practice. But he got on top of it on Saturday afternoon, out-qualifying Alonso for the first time in 17 races to line up fourth.
Alonso and the Mercedes duo out-dragged him at the start, but he took a place back from Schumacher on lap four.
Four laps later he spun at turn two, nudging the barrier, and was fortunate to get away with only minor damage to his rear wing endplate. “I was scared the car might be too damaged to continue,” he said, “but my engineer told me I could keep going.”
Having slipped to ninth, and with the track drying out, Rob Smedley told Massa they could afford to gamble: “Just think about the fact that from where we are now we can probably take a bit of a risk.”
He was one of the first drivers into the pits for slick tyres, joining Webber, Vitaly Petrov and Rubens Barrichello on lap ten.
Massa’s stop was 1.4s slower than Webber’s and he lost a further 3.4s on his out-lap, which cancelled out any benefit from changing tyres early. It dropped him back behind Schumacher – despite the Mercedes driver staying out very long on his intermediates.
Massa made his next pit stop on lap 25 to jump Schumacher. It didn’t quite work – Schumacher came out ahead – but Massa was on him as they went into turn two. The Ferrari swept around the outside and Schumacher spun in avoidance.
That pit stop also jumped him in front of the other Mercedes of Rosberg and Massa rose to sixth after Kamui Kobayashi pitted.
Like Alonso, he did a third stint on super-soft tyres before switching to softs at the final stint. The recovering Webber and Hamilton passed him quite easily, leaving him sixth.
2011 Hungarian Grand Prix
Image © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo