By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – In winning the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, Red Bull’s Mark Webber took the lead in the drivers’ standings from Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, whilst Brazil’s Felipe Massa could only manage fourth place and is now 64 points off the overall leader, an almost impossible margin to overcome.
Webber will now go into the mid-season break with a four point lead after a safety car period and drive-through penalty for Vettel allowed Webber to snatch first place.
“It was a bit of a gift, but I’ve not had many of them, so I’ll take it,” he said. “It’s an incredible day for [Red Bull]. It’s nice to have more points than anybody else, but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves as there are some big events coming up.”
Ferrari’s Brazilian driver Felipe Massa, subject of such controversy in last week’s race, finished just ahead of Renault’s Vitaly Petrov and Williams’ Nico Hulkenberg, and confusion continues to rumble on over last week’s German Grand Prix when Massa and Fernando Alonso blatantly switched places at the front as the Brazilian conceded the race to his Spanish teammate.
In a sport not alien to such occurrences, the biggest offense was not in Ferrari ordering Massa to concede, but rather the fact that the maneuver was carried out in such an obvious and blatant manner, though it looks unlikely that any penalty will be handed down to either driver or their team despite such a substantial flaunting of the rule book.
It now looks unlikely that Massa will be a serious contender for the drivers’ championship come the end of the season. Ferrari clearly regard Alonso as their quickest driver, and thus their best bet to secure the title. For now, Massa will have to be content with a role amongst the supporting cast. Yet Alonso failed to land first place in Hungary, finishing sandwiched between Webber and team mate Vettel.
Webber’s delight was not echoed by his teammate, whose frustration at not winning the race was clear. The source of Vettel’s frustration began on lap sixteen, when the safety car entered the track due to debris scattered on the surface, by which point the German had already built up an impressive but not insurmountable twelve second lead.
Vettel then made a pivotal error in not staying the required ten car lengths behind the safety car, and was penalized by the race stewards. The penalty put him behind Alonso, who defended his position expertly for the rest of the race. It was the sixth time in seven races that Vettel has failed to convert pole position into victory, and his anger finally got the better of him to such an extent that his race engineer was forced to try to calm him down.
“I know you’re upset. We’re all upset but there’s nothing you can say to change anything. Take a deep breath,” he was heard saying to the distraught driver.
After the race, Vettel explained: “At the restart I guess I was sleeping. I probably was relying too much on the radio, I lost the connection and didn’t hear anything. I should have won, but in the end I was third and I am very disappointed.”