In order to finish first, first you have to be Finnish
“Welcome to the world of winning, the first of many.” That was how McLaren boss Ron Dennis greeted Heikki Kovalainen as the Finn scored a surprise victory on Sunday in a Hungarian Grand Prix that should really have been Felipe Massa’s race.
The Brazilian took his chance with both hands and thrust his Ferrari past the front-row McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Kovalainen at the start, and then dominated proceedings.
Life got easier for him when Hamilton suffered a deflated front left Bridgestone tyre on the 41st lap and dropped back to 10th place, and in truth Kovalainen never looked likely to challenge Massa. But gradually the McLaren moved closer and closer to the red car as the final laps were reeled off. Massa completed the 67th of the 70 in the lead, but then a spectacular engine failure stopped car number two just past the line. As Massa was clambering out, Kovalainen swept past en route to a triumph that made up for all the poor fortune he has had to endure this season as Hamilton’s partner.
Behind him, Timo Glock drove the race of his life for Toyota to take an excellent second, holding off Kimi Raikkonen as the Finn’s Ferrari finally came alive on the softer tyre in the final stint.
Fernando Alonso did what he had to do to take fourth for Renault, holding off the recovering Hamilton to the flag. The latter’s fifth place and Massa’s misfortune keep him at the head of the points table, with 62 points to Raikkonen’s 57 and Massa’s 54.
Renault’s Nelson Piquet drove well for sixth, keeping Jarno Trulli at bay in the second Toyota, while Robert Kubica had a disappointing race for BMW Sauber but kept his fourth overall with a point for eighth which brought his total to 49.
Behind them Red Bull’s Mark Webber and David Coulthard sandwiched Nick Heidfeld’s single-stopping BMW Sauber, in ninth and 11th places, followed home by Jenson Button’s Honda, the battling Williams of Kazuki Nakajima and Nico Rosberg, Giancarlo Fisichella’s Force India, Rubens Barrichello’s Honda and Sebastien Bourdais’ Toro Rosso. Nakajima, Bourdais and Barrichello all experienced minor fires during their pit stops, such was the heat.
Massa was classified 17th, between Barrichello and Bourdais, while Adrian Sutil retired his Force India late in the race after several pit stops, and Sebastian Vettel failed to finish with mechanical problems.