Hamilton hopes not punctured but champion has lucky charm

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The Independent Online

"I am sure it is not a great feeling," Felipe Massa said in Hungary with the understatement of one who was not speaking in his first language. "When things looked already finished with only three laps to go and then you just hear something and have a strange feeling in the car as the engine breaks down, for sure it is not a great feeling. I feel really bad, and not happy for what has happened."

As the charismatic little Brazilian reflected on the rare Ferrari engine failure that cost him both the race and the lead in the World Championship, his rival Lewis Hamilton said he was getting used to punctured tyres. In Turkey last year, one arguably cost him the points that eventually lost him the World Championship; another in Hungary cost him a win that went to his team-mate, Heikki Kovalainen.

"It was a sudden puncture – it must have occurred at Turn One and the tyre was flat by Turn Two, so I had to travel a long way back to the pits at reduced speed," Hamilton said. "After that, I needed to look after the supersoft tyres because I had a longer-than-expected final stint to the flag. But the car felt good, and I just kept pushing until the finish and picked up a useful handful of points.

"After a day like that, you've got to look at the big picture; and given the problem we hadwith the tyre and the difficulty looking after the car in the final stint, I can't really complain about finishing fifth. Salvaging the maximum possible points from a difficult race is always important so I can't be too disappointed to have come away having extended my lead in the World Championship."

Kovalainen kept up the tradition of drivers who have won their first race in Hungary, such as Damon Hill, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button. After the season he has had, including that horrible shunt in Spain, few begrudged it when Lady Luck finally smiled on him. "Of course I am very happy," he said. "There have been various incidents this year when I was in a position to challenge for the win and things have gone wrong and not functioned properly. Halfway through the race it started to work for me better and I could put pressure on Felipe and hope for something to happen."

Spanish newspapers have questioned how Kimi Raikkonen could make a mistake on lap 50, when Fernando Alonso, with whom he was battling, pitted for a second time, yet made such a fast stop himself a lap later that he could overtake the Spaniard in the pits.

Diario AS said Renault are investigating how Raikkonen's refuelling was completed so fast, since Intertechnique's refuelling rig operates at a standard flow rate for all teams. "I don't know how they did it," Alonso was quoted as saying. "We will carefully study the data and see if they have something that allows them to fill up faster."

"To be world champion," Massa reflected, "you need to be quick, you need to be consistent, you need to work well with the team, and you need to be lucky. I think if you are missing one of these parts maybe you cannot make it."

So keep an eye on the champion, Raikkonen. He might be in the middle of a lacklustre streak that is again calling into question his motivation and likely future, but if the luck is running with anyone, it is with him.