Heikki Kovalainen (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) has won his first Formula One race after an exciting and tension-filled Hungarian Grand Prix, round eleven of the FIA Formula One World
Kovalainen used a soft – soft – super soft tyre strategy at the Hungaroring near Budapest to take the top step of the podium in his 28th Grand Prix. The race had looked to be going the way of Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver Felipe Massa, until he retired from the lead with just three laps remaining and scored no points.
Massa had led the field after overtaking pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) at the first corner and the duo maintained an advantage at the head of the field through much of the race. On lap 41, Hamilton suffered a deflated tyre, the exact cause of which is being investigated by Bridgestone and the team, which meant an early pit-stop from second position. Although this affected his strategy, he was able to fight back to finish in fifth.
Timo Glock (Panasonic Toyota Racing) crossed the line in second place, 11 seconds behind Kovalainen. Kimi Raikkonen (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro) finished in third place and also set the race’s fastest lap, using the super soft compound in his final stint to achieve a 1min 21.195secs. Fernando Alonso (ING Renault F1 Team) finished in fourth, 1.4 seconds ahead of Hamilton.
Sixth position went to Nelson Piquet (ING Renault F1 Team), Jarno Trulli (Panasonic Toyota Racing) finished in seventh and Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber F1 Team) scored the final point.
Leaving Hungary, Hamilton continues to lead the drivers’ championship with 62 points from Raikkonen on 57. Massa is in third place on 54. Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro lead the constructors’ championship with 111 points, whilst Vodafone McLaren Mercedes have moved into second place on 100 points. The BMW Sauber F1 Team are in third on 90 points.
Formula One now takes a brief break until the European Grand Prix on 22-24 August at the new street course in Valencia, Spain. Bridgestone’s soft and super soft compound Potenza tyres will be used, in what is Bridgestone’s 200th Grand Prix since entering the sport in 1997.
Hirohide Hamashima – Director of Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development, said:
“Congratulations to Heikki Kovalainen for scoring his first Grand Prix win, and also to Timo Glock for achieving his first F1 podium finish, especially after his accident in the last race. Performance from both compounds was good and the super soft was faster when we saw more rubber laid on the track, as we saw from Kimi Raikkonen’s fastest lap. The super soft also performed well in the case of David Coulthard, who used it to run a long first stint, starting the race with a heavy car. Regarding Lewis Hamilton’s tyre deflation, we are still investigating the reason for this as it is not immediately apparent from initial analysis, however a puncture from a sidewall cut looks to be the probable cause.”