Fernando Alonso won the Hungarian Grand Prix today to become the eighth winner of a Grand Prix this year. He led from lights to flag to become Formula One's youngest ever winner at the tender age of 22 (beating Bruce McLaren's 40 year old record). Michael Schumacher scored one valuable point by finishing in eighth position, a point that keeps him at the top of the Drivers' World Championship. Michael's team mate, Rubens Barrichello, was forced out of the race when he lost the left rear wheel on lap 18.
'We are obviously disappointed with today's result but we scored and you cannot underestimate the importance of every point at this stage in the season,' said Mike Copson of Shell Global Solutions. 'Just as one horsepower that we can give the team with a new fuel or oil can count towards a race win, one point here today could be crucial at the end of the season.'
The start was as chaotic as everyone had predicted. Runners on the right-hand side of the grid suffered badly from the dust that lay off the racing line. Men in the even numbered grid spots lost places at the start to the men who sat in grid spots to their left. One notable exception was Michael Schumacher. Having started eighth, he ran the Williams cars hard and was up to seventh by Turn Three.
As the cars funnelled down to turn one, a great deal had changed since they left the grid. Alonso still led, but Webber was up to second, Barrichello up to third and Raikkonen had jumped to fourth. Trulli was down to fifth, Coulthard up to sixth with Michael Schumacher close behind in seventh. Ralf Schumacher had a torrid start. From second on the grid, he made a slow getaway and spun at Turn Three to put himself dead last. It was however the beginning of a good recovery drive that would earn the Williams driver some points at the end of the day.
Charging hard to pass Webber, Barrichello made a mistake at the chicane and lost places to the men immediately behind him, demoting him to fifth in the early stages of the race.
The cars sat in a line, all desperately looking for a way past one another, but the tight confines of the Hungaroring made overtaking difficult. Many drivers opted to hold tight until the first round of pit stops to review their situation.
Alonso was the first of the leaders in, swiftly followed by Webber. Both men had good stops and were the catalyst for the rest of the field to come in. In fact, by lap 17, most of the field had pitted, although there was no real change on the track.
Change was to come to the Ferrari team though. On lap 18, as Rubens Barrichello braked for Turn One, he lost the left rear wheel, pitching him into the tyre wall. The F2003-GA absorbed the impact well and Rubens was unharmed but out of the race.
At the second round of pit stops there was little change, nor was there much change in the order when most of the leaders came in for the third time. With Alonso running freely at the front, he was able to set and maintain fast times. Behind him, most of the cars were engaged in either attacking or defending positions, causing lap times to drop behind that of the leader.
On Lap 61, Montoya, who was running in third place, had a spin at the top of the circuit. He recovered, but this enabled his charging team mate, Ralf Schumacher, to close right up behind him. The two ran nose to tail for the remaining laps, Ralf happy to settle for fourth having been last at the end of lap one.
Alonso led from start to finish and took his maiden Grand Prix win. The whole Renault team greeted him as he crossed the line for one of the year's most popular wins. Behind the Spaniard was Raikkonen, closely followed by the two Williams cars of Montoya and Schumacher. Coulthard finished fifth and Webber brought his Jaguar home in sixth position. The second Renault of Trulli was seventh with Michael Schumacher in the sole Ferrari hard on his tail.
At this stage in the season, all points are precious, and Michael's point keeps him at the head of the Drivers' Championship as the title race goes to Monza. He leads Montoya by one point and Raikkonen by two Ferrari has lost the lead of the World Constructors' Championship to Williams so things at Monza should be very exciting!