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By Karl Williams


Monday, August 4, 2008.


Over the weekend, we returned to the Hungaroring for all the right reasons. With two straight wins under his belt at the British and Germany Grand Prix, for Lewis Hamilton and his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team (and the pace, which the car seems to have with its revised package), there was every hope for optimism within the team.


It had been a very frustrating time for McLaren team, up until his win in an atrociously wet, monsoon-like Silverstone where conditions take a theatrical turn for the five-time spinner Felipe Massa.


It was as they’re say his finest hour of pure commitment and composure, even eclipsing his win a few months ago in Monaco, which was also won in a downpour.


At Silverstone that afternoon he lapped everyone else apart from the second place Nick Heidfeld, a welcome and well-deserved sight, a third place Rubens Barrichello.  


At the Germany Grand Prix at Hockenheim two weeks ago, Hamilton again displayed his ability as a pure racer. From the time of the red lights going out, he was in total command of the race. That was until he’d built-up a very comfortable lead and the deployment of the safety car after Toyota Panasonic Timo Glock’s rear suspension broke as he exited the last corner at 130mph.


At this point most teams pitted their drivers who where on two stop strategies, while McLaren opted to keep Lewis out until lap 50! This gave him the daunting task of building almost 20 seconds lead in seven laps, in-order to make it into the pits, back out and try too win the race!


As he did at Silverstone, Lewis showed that same grit and determination form his days of racing GP2 and by driving like a bat out of hell, he drove a revised McLaren MP4-23 at its limit. As he left the pits on lap 50, you knew he had his Sunday afternoon’s work cut-out but felt both he and the car where capable.


The changes which the team made to the car where not ‘fully’ exploited at Silverstone in the wet, even though he was able to lap 10secs faster than anyone, which was highly praised by none other that Ross Brawn, who was astounded by his pace in the wet.


Shades of a young rain master Schumacher perhaps!



At a dry race in Hockenheim, with 17laps to go, he was on form setting a blistering paste lap after lap by almost half a sec to a second a lap as he’d done before the pit stop, after which he had to chase down his team-mate Heikki Kovalainen whose car had over steering problems.


He then toke the fight to first Nelson Piquet Jr, who only stopped once in the race, so his tyres would’ve been well shot with a heavy fuel load. So with his lighter load and faster car a slipstreaming Lewis made easy work of him Nelson.


With the Ferrari’s Felipe Massa ahead of him, you just knew it was going to be messy and so it was, with them ducking under each other in two short corners as first Lewis out braked Massa to overtake him and then Massa coming back at him only to be forced unto the green stuff once more. This then left with a clear track to cruise to the flag to for his double at the home of Mercedes Benz.  


He totally demoralised the opposition that afternoon with an awesome display of his talent for raw speed and commitment.


Now last year’s race at the Hungaroring has lots memorable; It was the start of the cracks in McLaren’s ‘Dream team’ of Fernando Alonso and the young Rookie Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari-McLaren ‘spy-gate’ and one Max Mosley, who millions had never even heard of until then.


However, in the last few months most of these things have been settled via various court cases, (except the one against the Ferrari Engineer who past the sexed-up dossier) along with that hefty £50m fine and McLaren issuing an apology to Ferrari.


And when the News of the World gave Max Mosley a spanking in the press, he too walked away with the biggest payout and court cost for an infringement of his privacy, with more to come in the form of libel damages. I for one can’t help feeling that those journalist at the News of the World, where feeling slightly jealous of our Max, as their sat down watching all that footage as it came in, while Max held the attention of five women, yes five, when most of them could hardly manage one. Good on you max!


Meanwhile to matters in hand and the real racy stuff comes to a head once more tomorrow afternoon as Lewis and Hieikki make it a McLaren 1-2 on the front row of the grid for the Hungarian Grand Prix, and it looks like its another Sunday afternoon spanking for the opposition for all the world to see. The Ferrari’s which started the season so well, with dominate wins by both Felipe and the hard charging ‘Ice man’ that is Kim, seems to hit the buffers in terms of getting the car to work with either of its driver since the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours.


As for Kimi, I think he’s all but given up for all to see, which for me is a disappointment, as if there’s one man who hates the press run and let his driving do the talking, its always been Kimi. So I’m aghast as to what has sent him off the boil!


The BMW’s have also lost pace of late, this may well be due their focus on next year’s car, while Toyota Panasonic driver Timo Glock, has dusted himself off very nicely and popped his car fifth on the grid after that horrendous crash two weeks ago at Hockenheim. It’s a stunning performance and his best qualifier of the seasons.


We all know how difficult Monaco’s street circuit can be, and racing at the Hungaroring only differs by the lack of barriers and the water at its edges. It’s a light and very twisty and almost imposable to over take. Lewis won form pole position last year and he knows what needs to be done this weekend. This revised McLaren of the last two Grand Prix, and with more added for this weekend race driven by Lewis, has close to a second a lap in hand!


This race was the turning point last year for all the wrong reasons and with Heikki sitting on the dirty side of the track, many maybe thinking its a disadvantage, but he’s keen if not keener as is Lewis for his first win and with no team orders and nin-on no overtaking, that first corner could hurt. 


Karl Williams is a London-based freelance journalist and motoring correspondent for The New Black Magazine.


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