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30 Nov 2010

F1 Season Review 2010: Part 3

Before the next race in Hungary, teams had already labelled the Hungaroring as Red Bull territory. The track's high amount of mid- high-speed corners suiting the RB6's high-downforce characteristics. Even though Red Bull were expected to be ahead in Hungary, nobody quite expected the gap between them and the rest to be so vast. In Free Practice 1, the fastest non-Red Bull was a full second slower. Come qualifying, Red Bull's Vettel was fully 1.2 seconds faster than the first non-Red Bull car. This domination was largely down to a new front wing assembly pioneered by Red Bull. The endplates appeared to flex towards the track much more than any other car. As the wing gets closer to the track, it generates more downforce and so the car goes faster round corners. McLaren and Ferrari immediately claimed the parts were illegal and should be banned. The FIA put the wings under tests before the race, and they passed them easily. The parts were deemed legal.                          
          Teams expected "70% of the final result" to be decided in turn 1. Alonso muscled his way through Mark Webber to P2 and Kobayashi moved from 24th up to 16th in an impressive first lap. Liuzzi was overly aggressive when overtaking a backmarker, turning across the front of the car and losing his own front wing in the process, causing the Safety Car to be deployed and the majority of the field to pit. Renault's Robert Kubica was released at the wrong moment and collided with Sutil's Force India, a crash that ended the German's weekend and earned Kubica a 10-second stop-go penalty. Webber led behind the safety car and Vettel attempted to back the pack up from 2nd to allow his team-mate to get enough space to pit and rejoin 2nd. Vettel backed up too far and was awarded a drive through penalty much to his disgust. Hamilton's gearbox cut out meaning he DNF'd for the first time this season. Webber eventually won the race from Alonso and Vettel.

 In the final few laps, Barrichello caught up to the back of Schumacher and pulled along side, prompting the German to pin him right to the pit wall, incredibly close to a huge accident.

Every year, the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa never fails to provide an exhilarating event. 2010 was no different. The setting, deep in the Ardennes forest, means unpredictable and frequently changing weather conditions. Qualifying arrived and rain was expected just 5 minutes into the first session and with the long lap-time there were chaotic scenes as all 24 cars took to the track at once. The first moment was when Vitaly Petrov ran across a wet kerb, spinning through 720 degrees before colliding with the wall and red-flagging the session. Thanks to the adverse weather, both Heikki Kovaleinen and Timo Glock made it to the second part of qualifying, at the expense of both Saubers who also span out. The final session saw another rain shower right at the death cause Alonso to fail to move up from 10th. Webber grabbed pole from Hamilton for Red Bull's 12th pole in 13 attempts. The race itself began in dry conditions and Mark Webber's anti-stall system kicked in, meaning he dropped to 6th by the first turn and promoted Hamilton into 1st. By the end of lap 1 however, rain had began to fall at the final turn, catching the entire field out who all overshot the turn into the run-off area. The biggest loser was Barrichello, who ended up colliding with Alonso's Ferrari and retiring. The Ferrari would somehow survive the heavy impact and continue. A group of drivers pitted for intermediate/wet tyres hoping the rain would continue, however a few laps later it had stopped almost completely, and all those drivers had to pit again for dry tyres. This cost Alonso most, already near the back after his crash with Rubens, he had to pit from wet to dry and lost another load of places. Vettel in 2nd began to reel in Button and attempted to pull alongside going into the Bus-stop chicane, however he lost grip and T-Boned into the radiator of the McLaren, earning a DNF for Jenson and a drive-through penalty for Vettel. Having served the penalty he made good headway cutting through the pack before he tangled with Liuzzi's Force India. The Italian managed to pit for a new nose cone, but Vettel continued another lap before realising he had a slow puncture, costing him yet more time. The chaotic weather came back with a twist near the end of the race, unleashing a downpour that so nearly caught out Lewis Hamilton as he slid through the gravel and clipped a tyre wall but recovered still 1st. Alonso, having a nightmare race, made a rare mistake and ran wide out of Les Combes and span into a wall, triggering another safety car and more pit-stops. A messy stop from 2nd place Kubica saw him drop to 3rd behind Webber. The front-runners held position for the final few laps after the Safety Car, with Hamilton taking his first win since Turkey.

Up next, Hamilton's title challenge suffers fatal damage.


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