What REALLY happend in Hungary - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-10-2007, 07:55 PM Thread Starter
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What REALLY happend in Hungary

from automoto365.com

Our spies in Hungary report – part one

In most cases, the drama in Budapest happens on a Saturday as the race itself is very often a boring procession. However, in the 2007 event the action all took place in qualifying and in the following 8 hours. The cold war between the McLaren drivers took on a whole new life, examples of which we had had sneak previews of in Monte Carlo and Indy, but nothing could beat Budapest’s story!
When Alonso waited in his pit box for so long in Q3 before his final run with Hamilton running out of time sitting behind him waiting for service, so long in fact that he ran out of time to do his final shot, spectators of the incident saw nothing more than a dirty trick from a champion who knows how to play this game, and play it well. But there was more to it than that as the first foul was done by Hamilton himself, and what Alonso did in return was nothing short of sweet was revenge.

Budapest is one of the few tracks where you can do one extra fuel burn lap, if everything goes according to plan, that is! So you can do 12 instead of 11 laps in Q3, which means that before the race you are allowed to fill for 12 instead of 11 laps. This can be a joker in a tight race, because it determines your first pitstop. In Silverstone Hamilton got the bonus of the extra lap, so McLaren wanted to give this present to Fernando in Hungary but for this to happen he needed to be in front of the queue when Q3 got underway, because he needed a free track in front of him to squeeze 12 laps into 15 minutes. Hamilton could leave the garage earlier because his engine was up to the required temperature earlier than Alonso’s, therefore McLaren asked Lewis to let Alonso pass as soon as practice started, but instead of doing this Hamilton disappeared. Three times the team reminded him to let his teammate have track position, but he refused to react. His argument was…

"If Fernando had followed me closely, we both could have got the extra lap. But he was too slow. I did not want to wait, because Raikkonen was right behind Alonso, and he could have taken the benefit of it."

Hamilton’s refusal put the entire Q3 plan for McLaren out of sequence. When Alonso stopped the first time to put new tyres on, he waited there for 45 seconds.

"My engineer and I discussed a change on the frontwing settings, as I had too much understeer. Than one tyre blanket would not come off. It did not matter, as we had time because of the lost lap."

Things became more serious at Alonso’s second pitstop. The team told him over the radio that he had to wait probably 20 seconds to find a gap in the traffic, something that surprised the stewards later on, as at this moment only 4 cars were on track. According to Alonso his engineer was counting down the seconds before he would start, but when the lollipop went up Alonso stood still for another 10 seconds. In the meantime Hamilton had parked right behind him, also waiting for the tyre change for his last run. When the stewards asked Alonso why he waited that further 10 seconds, he replied:

"I started to discuss with my engineer the tyre choice. They had given me a used set of fronts, and I wanted a fresh one."

But why, he was asked, did he not sort that out in the first 20 seconds of the stop?

"Because my engineer was counting me down. I could not interrupt that."

Nobody wanted to believe this excuse, therefore Alonso was demoted from 1st to 6th on the grid, however, there was also the suspicion that it was the team, who were teaching Hamilton a lesson for disobeying orders. Alonso could not have known on his own, from inside the cockpit, how much time was left and how tight it was going to be to get himself out in time, let alone his teammate. When he passed the line for his last flying lap, 0.6 seconds were left before the chequered lap. Without help from outside the car, you cannot do this, you cannot do the timing yourself. So the whole team must have been involved.

Alonso improved his time and got pole position on the harder compound of tyres as just like in Montreal and Monte Carlo he struggled with the supersoft compound. His driving style is too hard for them and the rubber grained before the end of the first lap. Raikkonen had the same problem, but Hamilton made the supersoft survive over one lap. Therefore he could have the benefit of more grip and would have taken pole for sure. After Lewis realized that he was screwed by the team he started a quite aggressive discussion with Ron Dennis over the radio, which ended up with Lewis saying:

"If you do that once more to me, we're done." Quite a tough boy that young lad is after just 11 Grand Prix.

Hamilton carried on debating with his boss once both were sitting in front of the stewards and this undermined McLarens defence strategy. For example, Lewis said that he has never heard of a procedure of counting down the seconds before you leave the pits.

"I go, when the lollipop comes up."

Therefore the stewards found it hard to believe what McLaren and Alonso said, but there was another reason why they punished team and driver. The radio talk could have proved everything in favour of Alonso or the team, but the sound file got lost. When McLaren talk to their drivers while they are standing in the pits, they use a different frequency than the one they use while the car is in motion, a frequency that the FIA cannot listen to, therefore, to prove their case they needed those recordings, but they were nowhere to be found, wonder why.

However, the stewards penalty was a joke. You can live with Alonso’s demotion, but what did the team have to do with it? It should not matter to the FIA if a team has internal problems, which they are having trouble solving. McLaren could have kept Hamilton back in the pits and argued that they wanted to save the new tyres for the race. McLaren did not influence the outcome for any competitor. To delete their constructor’s points mean a present to all rivals, namely Ferrari, which they did not deserve. It again left a bitter taste that the FIA is influencing this championship. If Ferrari does not win it on the circuit, they do not deserve it. McLaren does not lead the championship because of the qualifying story in Budapest, nor do they because one or more persons had documents from Ferrari in their possession.

Ferrari has lost points this season, mainly because they have committed too many mistakes, in terms of drivers, the team and also reliability. This race Felipe Massa had to start from P14 after he did not make it into Q3. When he left the garage for his second outing in Q2, there was no fuel in the car. The team had discussed for such a long time whether they should refuel the car with the FIA rig or their own, that finally they forgot to do it at all! When Massa was pulled back to the pits, his set of super-soft tyres were too cold to do a proper lap and understeering started in the first corner. The team did not put a new set on because they were afraid that time would run out.

Ferrari had the race pace but what can you do on a circuit where overtaking is almost impossible? You have to do it in the first few laps, once the field is still packed and you need the goodwill from the guy in front. Kubica could have stopped Alonso, but Fernando is his friend. However, in the end the BMW driver had his doubts being so cooperative with the McLaren driver:

"I crossed the line behind Fernando, so I could have been 4th if I had blocked him at the beginning. The problem was, that I thought Rosberg and Schumacher were the guys to cover, not Alonso. I was afraid, that If I had a battle with the McLaren over ten laps, I would lose too much time on my main rivals. Maybe a mistake."

In hindsight BMW also made a mistake. They chose a 3-stop race, because the engineers were concerned that the supersoft tyres on a longer stint could cause problems. In practice the left front started graining badly after one lap for a period of 8 to 9 laps, but with the rubber going down on the circuit, the picture changed, the supersoft actually became a competitive tyre, as Kovalainen and Rosberg proved. No more was the left front a problem, rather the rear tyres, but only for 3 or 4 laps. Rosberg admitted:

"I should have run two stints on the softer and one on hard instead of doing it vice versa."

He recorded the 6th fastest race-lap on the supersoft compound.

To be continued…..
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-10-2007, 09:31 PM
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-10-2007, 09:45 PM
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well written, but nobody know for sure the truth except lh and fa...
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-10-2007, 11:01 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by picklesam
well written, but nobody know for sure the truth except lh and fa...
All I can say is for several years I had access to inside information from more than half the teams on the grid. The "insider" who writes these articles has only sidestepped fact in one paragraph, of one article over the years that I am aware of, and that was more a matter of interpretation.

I am 99.9% sure I know who the author is. If I am correct he is one of the movers and shakers in the upper echelon of the sport.
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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-10-2007, 11:23 PM
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Lewis Hamilton's press release refutes some of this commentary - claiming that the reported radio conversation with Ron Dennis never took place.

I am sure the media has made more of all this than is really there. I remember at the funeral for Ayrton Senna one of the paullbearers was Alain Prost. If they were the arch enemies that the media made (and continues to make) them out to be then that would be very strange and surely the Senna family would have objected.

I wish the commentators would focus on the skill of these great drivers and the quality of the racing rather than making things into a soap opera.



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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 08-11-2007, 04:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Astin

I am sure the media has made more of all this than is really there. I remember at the funeral for Ayrton Senna one of the paullbearers was Alain Prost. If they were the arch enemies that the media made (and continues to make) them out to be then that would be very strange and surely the Senna family would have objected.

I wish the commentators would focus on the skill of these great drivers and the quality of the racing rather than making things into a soap opera.
There is professional courtesy (or the lack of it) and then there is integrity. Integrity is getting thin on the ground but the competitive edge is still an active part of the sport. It takes an honest man to admit that life without Senna is not as good as life with him. Prost comes to the funeral to share his loss and bear his true feelings as any honest man would do. But to give way in a race that would never happen.

People need to learn respect for Ron Dennis or any other team boss. If he says to the drivers that the sky is green and the ocean is white then everyone in the team needs to agree. Just because drivers have ambitions and desires it does not excuse them from this obligation.

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