Silverstone F1 Testing 2014 PH 18

Hungarian GP 2016 Review – Lewis’s Cruise Control

Lewis Hamilton has many more strings to his bow than we tend to give credit for. He won the Hungarian Grand Prix – at a track he adores – for the fifth time. It also was his fifth win from the last six rounds. Ho hum. Well, no not really, as this was a win cut from a very different cloth to his usual.

Rather than his habitual attack, Lewis’s race was more in keeping with the great Juan Manuel Fangio’s maxim: to win using the lowest possible speed. Or, that old one about controlling a race from the front. He never looked like he’d run away, nor even all that often like he was quickest – perhaps a lingering consequence of his Friday practice crash losing him momentum, though the man himself spoke of having to nurse his engine with few units left, and penalties likely, for the season’s remainder. But at the sinewy Hungaroring track position is nine-tenths – or ten-tenths – of the law, and Lewis exploited that fully.

Started So He’ll Finish

After a controversial qualifying session in which pole position looked to be his, only for team mate Nico Rosberg to nab it at the very last, in part via slowing down just enough (for the stewards at least) through a yellow flag zone, winning the race looked like a tough ask for Lewis. Overtaking as intimated is near impossible at this track, and Mercedes tends to give the lead car strategy preference too. That left the start as about his only opportunity to swap the silver cars’ order in his favour, and these Lewis hasn’t very often aced this year.

But, you know what, he only went and aced it this time, and claimed the lead down the inside of turn one. Both Lewis and Nico stated afterwards that this was crucial to the result. And it was. Nico got close to Lewis on occasion, at one point to the extent that a few – including the Mercedes team it seemed – suspected that Lewis was trying to ‘back up’ Nico into the chasing Red Bulls and Ferraris. The man himself insisted not so, that simply he was eking everything out cautiously as outlined.

Lewis Knows What he’s Doing

It looked that way, and harnessing a famous Kimi Raikkonen quote later Lewis said he knew what he was doing. It also looked like he never was going to be dislodged from his lead, which he maintained to the end. The Bulls and Ferraris behind chased gamely but didn’t have the Mercs’ legs – it seems that from its already towering level Mercedes has found extra pace recently.

It all means too that despite six rounds ago facing a mammoth 43-point gap to his team mate Lewis now actually leads the drivers’ table. Nico insisted again afterwards that he’s not worried, that his season in the round has been a good one, that there’s still a long way to go and there’s all to play for. All true, but surely it must linger in a mental recess for Nico somewhere that if him winning the first four rounds can’t guarantee that Lewis is kept in his box, then what exactly can?

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