Kovalainen wins Hungarian Grand Prix

Heikki Kovalainen became the 100th winner in Formula One history with the first victory of his career to cap a surprising Hungarian Grand Prix.

The triumph was totally unexpected as Felipe Massa was on course to comfortably take the chequered flag, only for the engine in his Ferrari to blow just three laps from the finish.

The bitter blow for Massa means Lewis Hamilton now has a five-point lead in the title race from reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen as the young Briton could only finish fifth due to another tyre problem.

When Kovalainen crossed the line, team boss Ron Dennis told him over the radio: "Welcome to the world of winning. The first of many. Well done."

In hindsight it should have been a straightforward afternoon for Hamilton as he came into the race enjoying undoubted domination of his sport.

Successive wins in Britain and Germany had propelled him into a four-point lead - and he appeared on course to become the first British driver since Damon Hill in 1996 to make it a hat-trick.

In practice, Hamilton had blitzed the field, and then in qualifying he was head and shoulders above the rest.

Starting from the 10th pole position of his career, and with Kovalainen alongside him on the front row, the McLaren duo should have repeated such a one-two in the race.

Even one of the Bridgestone chiefs had mentioned Hamilton was far more balanced on his tyres these days than Ferrari, and that was part of the reason as to his recent success.

But Formula One always throws up the unexpected, and at a tight, twisty Hungaroring where overtaking is virtually impossible, the sport conjured more surprise moments.

Once the five red lights disappeared, Massa initially blazed past the first McLaren of Kovalainen before reeling in Hamilton.

Around the outside of turn one, Massa made his manoeuvre stick, even though his British rival attempted to push him wide.

Following Hamilton's brilliant move on Massa in Germany, that must have tasted like sweet revenge for the Brazilian.

Perhaps even more remarkably, there was virtually no response from Hamilton as Massa eked out a tenth of a second here, a tenth there and by the first round of pit stops the advantage was 3.5secs.

Even on fresh rubber Hamilton failed to make any impression on a Ferrari that had notably struggled at Hockenheim a fortnight ago.

Again Massa eased away, slowly but surely, and by lap 40 the lead had grown to 40 seconds, and then came the second surprise.

Those Bridgestone tyres that had apparently been working so well for Hamilton suddenly failed him, in particular the front left.

Hamilton lost pressure, forcing him to brake heavily into turn two, and from that point it resulted in a slow tour back into the pits, occasionally running wide as he struggled to corner.

It is not the first time Hamilton has had problems with his tyres, and he has become renowned for being hard on his rubber.

In this instance the issue did not appear to be of his own making, which is likely to result in an investigation from Bridgestone.

Inevitably, Hamilton lost valuable time on his in-lap, with his only saving grave the fact his stop occurred naturally in the second window.

However, once the dust had settled on the second round of stops, Hamilton had dropped to sixth, and he must have thought that with it would go his lead of the world championship.

But then came Massa's engine blow-out, robbing him of 10 points and with it the lead of this current remarkable season.

In another sensation, Toyota's Timo Glock took second just two weeks after his horror shunt at Hockenheim, with Raikkonen third and Renault's Fernando Alonso fourth, followed by Hamilton.

The remaining points-scoring positions were taken up by Nelson Piquet in his Renault, Toyota's Jarno Trulli and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica, whose own title challenge continues to falter.

Given the conditions, the fact there was little overtaking of note was of no great surprise, although there were pit stop incidents.

Sebastien Bourdais, Kazuki Nakajima and Rubens Barrichello for Toro Rosso, Williams and Honda respectively, all endured re-fuelling flash fires.

These days a pit crew member is on hand with an extinguisher, and for Bourdais - who twice encountered the problem - and Barrichello, their cars were quickly sprayed with foam.

But with the fuel rigs supplied by the FIA, the teams are likely to demand answers from the sport's governing body.

A thrilled Kovalainen said: "I'm very happy.

"There have been various incidents this season that have happened when I've been in a position to fight for a victory.

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

"The team have kept pushing and I'm very glad to get this first win.

"It's fantastic, a great moment, something I've been targeting for many years. Hopefully this is the first of many."

Glock, taking more points from this one race - his maiden podium - than he had in the previous 10 this season, remarked: "It's just unbelievable.

"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.

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

Raikkonen, who had started a disappointing sixth, was reasonably happy with his third place.

"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.

"I'm a little bit lucky with other people going all over the place.

"We have the speed in the race, but if I can't get qualifying right then we will always end up like this.

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

Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003