That’s a headline I, and many others, probably didn’t think they’d be writing a few days ago. However, it became clear in practice and then qualifying that the McLaren’s were much improved with Hamilton and Kovalainen qualifying in 4th and 6th respectively. With KERS on their side, there was the potential for both McLaren drivers to get a very good start in Hungary and possibly get a first McLaren podium of the 2009 season.
What actually happened was beyond anyone’s expectations. Lewis did have a good start going up to 3rd, but Sebastian Vettel didn’t start so well which hampered Hamilton’s progress a bit. Undeterred, Hamilton pressed on and attacked and overtook Mark Weber at the first opportunity, on a track which is notoriously difficult to overtake on! When Fernando Alonso pitted after just 11 laps Lewis Hamilton found himself at the front of the pack and leading the race – something he hadn’t done thus far in the 2009 season.
From then on we witnessed a flawless drive form the 2008 World Champion as he came home to take victory and the full 10 points. This was a day of firsts:
McLaren’s first podium of 2009
McLaren’s first victory of 2009
Hamilton’s first podium of 2009
Hamilton’s first victory of 2009
Formula 1’s first KERS victory
Heikki Kovalainen came in 5th making it a very good day for McLaren. Going forward, as a McLaren fan, I can only hope that this form is here to stay. I am under no illusion that Hamilton or Kovalainen will be challenging for the Driver’s Championship, but they can grab some good points, have some good races, and finish 2009 on a comparable high when looking at the first 9 races of the season. It also gives renewed optimism for the 2010 season where McLaren will hopefully be back where they belong – at the top!
Interestingly there have 4 different winners in the last 4 races: Button in Turkey, Vettel in Great Britain, Weber in Germany and now Hamilton in Hungary. Hamilton is now on 19 points and is 8th, 51 points behind leader Button, and Kovalainen is in 12th place on 9 points. McLaren move up to 5th in the Constructor’s Championship with 28 points, with Brawn GP way ahead at the top with 114 points.
This was a great race to watch as McLaren fan after the frustrations of the season so far. Hamilton in particularly, while never grabbing many points, has always been an entertaining driver to watch – just look back his battles with the likes of Weber, Alonso and Raikkonen this season. It’s fantastic to see him not only trying, but succeeding again too.
Away from the race, my thoughts go out to Felipe Massa who has a horrific accident in qualifying yesterday and is currently in a serious but stable state in hospital. The latest I heard is that he is improving, which is great news and I, along with everyone I’m sure, wishes him a speedy a recovery and quick return to the sport he loves and is so very good at.