Review of Hungary 1999
McLaren back on topArticle is written by and copyright (c) 1999 David Cunliffe, Warrington, UK - all rights reserved.
by David Cunliffe
After all the euphoria of the last two races, Eddie Irvine and Ferrari were put firmly back in their places in Hungary today by an emphatic McLaren 1-2. Mika Hakkinen took a lights to flag victory, thanks (this time) to a mistake-free race by the team from Woking. Despite a poor start, which dropped him to 5th, David Coulthard made a strong recovery and took 2nd place after pushing Eddie Irvine for several laps and forcing the Ulsterman to make a mistake. Irvine came home third and maintains his place at the head of the Championship table, albeit now by a meagre two points.
This was not the most exciting race of the season, but it had its moments. Unfortunately, the non-digital TV director neglected to show most of them, preferring instead to concentrate on watching the leading cars trundle around on their own for most of the hour and three-quarters of the race.
Hungary lived up to its reputation as a track where it is difficult to overtake, none suffering more from this than the hero of Hockenheim, Mika Salo. The hapless Finn, who had qualified the second Ferrari no less than sixteen places behind team-mate Irvine, was stuck behind Pedro de la Rosa for the first third of the race, failing to overtake the under-powered Arrows until the Spaniard went in for the first of his two stops. From hero to zero in twenty odd laps. After 77, Salo was still only 12th, failing to add to Ferrari's points tally in their quest for the Constructors' Championship Where now are those six teams who reportedly were rushing to sign him two weeks ago?
The Jordan team had a good race, Frentzen and Hill bringing their "buzzin' hornets" home in 4th and 6th respectively. Eddie Jordan looks pretty well set for his target of third in the Championship, unless Williams, or even Benetton or Stewart, have an incredible upsurge in form late in the season. Williams had a poor showing this race with Zanardi being the first to retire and Ralf Schumacher failing to score points for once. Barrichello added a couple to Stewart's tally with a strong 5th place. Benetton's chances looked much better here than of late, with Fisichella running in third early in the race, but his engine lost power on his pitstop and their hopes were dashed once again.
Ferrari have been the team on form in recent races, whilst McLaren have carelessly thrown points away. But today the balance was redressed more than a little with a McLaren perfect score. Perhaps Eddie's dream of being Ferrari's saviour has begun to fade a little. With the news that Michael Schumacher is (probably) due to return at Monza, in two races time, Eddie needs another good score at Spa if he is to have any chance of achieving that dream. But, on today's performance, the titles are still Hakkinen's and McLaren's for the taking. Unless, of course, they throw them away...
David Cunliffe has been following F1 for over twenty years and is a fan of any skillful and sporting driver who's a true racer. He produces a number of F1 related websites.