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Page last updated at 13:44 GMT, Sunday, 3 August 2008 14:44 UK
Hungarian Grand Prix
Hungaroring, 1-3 August, 2008

By Sarah Holt

Heikki Kovalainen celebrates his win in Hungary
Kovalainen became the 100th winner in Formula One history in Hungary

McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen captured his maiden win at the Hungarian Grand Prix as team-mate Lewis Hamilton kept his title lead despite finishing fifth.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa gifted the Finn victory after his car ground to a halt with just three laps to go.

Massa jumped both McLarens at Turn One and the race looked to be his after Hamilton suffered a punctured tyre.

But bad luck hit Massa and Kovalainen took the flag ahead of Toyota's Timo Glock and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.

Fernando Alonso matched his best finish of the season for Renault in fourth ahead of former team-mate Hamilton, whose fifth place was decent damage limitation.

Renault's Nelson Piquet, Jarno Trulli in the second Toyota and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica collected the rest of the points.

Ferrari will be left ruing what might have been after Massa's retirement ended their hopes of halting McLaren's winning streak at the Hungaroring.

After struggling to match their rival's pace in the last two races at Silverstone and Hockenheim, the team were on the verge of reigniting their faltering campaign thanks to Massa's audacious passing move at the start.


The Brazilian had sent a plume of smoke into the air as he nipped past Kovalainen and then squeezed polesitter Hamilton into Turn One.

Given McLaren's dominance in practice and qualifying, Massa's brilliant injection of pace suggested he was running light on fuel and, with a 3.5-second lead under his belt, he came in at the end of lap 18.

One lap later, Hamilton, who was struggling to get his tyres going, followed suit but took on board enough fuel for a longer middle stint.

But the Englishman did not get the opportunity to test his tactics of trying to stay out on the track long enough to eclipse Massa.

With the Brazilian four seconds ahead in the distance, Hamilton suddenly lost pressure in his tyres on lap 41.

The Englishman, renowned for pushing his tyres hard, wobbled across the track at Turn Four with a punctured left-front tyre and there was nothing he could do but wend his way back to the pits.

Forced to run the rest of the race on the super soft tyres, it was a case of salvaging as many points as possible as he fed back into the field in 10th.

Meanwhile, Massa waited patiently behind Kovalainen for the Finn to make his second stop and eventually retook the lead at the end of lap 48 - just 22 laps from victory.

But there was yet more drama to come in a race full of surprises.

As he powered down the straight, Massa's engine blew taking with it 10 points and the lead in the drivers' standings.

I salvaged the best of the worst - it's nowhere near as bad as it could have been

Lewis Hamilton
Kovalainen, who was confirmed as a McLaren driver for 2009 on Thursday, suddenly found himself in the unusual position of leading the race for the chequered flag.

And the 26-year-old cruised to his first victory in his 28th race to become the 100th Grand Prix winner in Formula One history.

"It's fantastic," said Kovalainen. "A great moment, something I've been targeting for many years - hopefully this is the first of many.

"At the end I tried to put pressure on Massa and hoped something would happen and it worked out that way.

"There have been various incidents this season that have happened when I've been in a position to fight for a victory, so I'm very glad to get this first win."

More significantly, Kovalainen's victory saw him protect Hamilton's advantage in the drivers' standings.

The Englishman now leads a closely-fought title race on 62 points, five points clear of Raikkonen with Massa three points further back.

And Hamilton was relieved to see his title rivals fail to eke out too much advantage from his misfortune in Budapest.

"I salvaged the best of the worst," he said. "What can you do when you get a puncture?

"It's nowhere near as bad as it could have been. I could have had Felipe and Kimi right at the front.

"It was a surprise that we weren't as quick as we should have been. We were quick at the beginning but struggled with our tyres."

Massa was clearly hugely disappointed after his afternoon.

"It was a near-perfect race, one of my best - but it's one of the most frustrating races in my career," he said afterwards.

"I was not in trouble, the tyres were not in trouble, I was just saving the car for the end of the race, but maybe it was not enough.

"As you saw, everything was perfect - then you know what happened, and it did so without warning, without the slightest indication."

Toyota underlined their progress in the battle between the best of the rest with Glock and Trulli both getting in the points.

Felipe Massa walks away from his stranded car in Hungary
Massa waves goodbye to 10 points as his car grinds to a halt

The 26-year-old Glock stayed out of trouble with an excellent drive, capturing his first podium after he made the most of his fifth place on the grid.

His performance was even more creditable given that he had only just been cleared to get back behind the wheel after his high-speed crash in Germany.

"I couldn't believe it when I saw Felipe's engine go and I was P2, so this is remarkable after the race in Hockenheim and the big crash," said Glock.

"To get a podium is just a perfect weekend."

Raikkonen went some way to restoring his title challenge with his first podium in three races.

But the defending world champion left it late to mount his challenge, eventually overtaking Alonso and then chasing Glock hard before Massa's crash saw the team urge him to pull back.

"We could have managed to do the race a little better, and I was stuck behind Alonso all the way to the second stop," said Raikkonen.

"We just need to sort out the problems and then we will be fighting for wins."

Piquet followed up a podium at Hockenheim with a sixth place but Kubica, in front of hordes of Polish fans, trailed in eighth - his worst finish of the season.

Englishman Jenson Button will probably be satisfied to finish where he started for Honda in 12th just behind Red Bull's Scot David Coulthard.

The drivers will resume battle in three weeks' time in Valencia which makes its Formula One bow as host for the European Grand Prix.

Results from Hungarian Grand Prix:

1. Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes 1hr 37min 27.067secs

2. Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota 11.061 seconds behind

3. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari at 16.856

4. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault at 21.614

5. Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes at 23.048

6. Nelson Piquet (Brz) Renault 32.298

7. Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 36.449

8. Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber 48.321

9. Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 58.834

10. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber 1:07.709

11. David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull-Renault 1:10.407

12. Jenson Button (GB) Honda 1 lap behind

13. Kazuki Nakajima (Jpn) Williams-Toyota 1 lap

14. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Toyota 1 lap

15. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Force India-Ferrari 1 lap

16. Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda 2 laps

17. Sebastien Bourdais (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 3 laps

R Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 67 laps completed

R Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India-Ferrari 62 laps completed

R Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 22 laps completed

Key: R = retired

Fastest Lap: Kimi Raikkonen, 1:21.195, lap 61.

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see also
Massa expects Ferrari improvement
31 Jul 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton to keep attacking style
30 Jul 08 |  Formula One
McLaren keep Kovalainen for 2009
31 Jul 08 |  Formula One
Hill backs Hamilton title claims
27 Jul 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton fights back for victory
20 Jul 08 |  Formula One

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