BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Midway through the blistering Hungarian
Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen pulled his mercurial McLaren race car
into pit row.
A dubious sight, considering Raikkonen's string of mechanical
troubles. There hadn't been a quicker car in Formula One the
previous three races -- or a more frustrating one. Two blown engines
and a hydraulic failure probably cost the Finn a shot at the season
But there would be no breakdown Sunday. Instead, Raikkonen used
the pits to perfection and raced away from Michael Schumacher and
the rest of the field for his fourth victory of the season.
On a hot day in the Hungarian hills where track temperatures
approached 113 degrees, Raikkonen finished 35.5 seconds ahead of
Schumacher, a polesitter for the first time this season. Ralf
Schumacher was third, 36.1 seconds back.
"It was really the pit stops that decided it," Schumacher
The turning point came after the second pit stop. Separated by
less than a second, Schumacher pitted on lap 36 and Raikkonen a lap
Raikkonen opted to add only a little fuel, and the strategy
worked. He came out of the pits just ahead of Schumacher and
immediately started padding the lead by nearly two seconds a lap.
"It was a combination of things," Schumacher said. "At this
stage, he was at least a second quicker. Then I had some traffic."
By lap 38, Raikkonen was seven seconds ahead of Schumacher. By
lap 40, the lead was more than 12 seconds.
Meanwhile, leader Juan Pablo Montoya slowed and stopped on the
41st lap with a broken driveshaft. That gave Raikkonen the lead,
nearly 15 seconds over Schumacher.
They both pitted again, and by lap 57, Raikkonen had a
32.6-second lead and cruised to the victory.
"Luckily we chose different tactics and the team did a great
job. We changed it -- it was the best time to stop the second
time," Raikkonen said.
Raikkonen's sixth career F1 victory gave him 61 points this
season, still a distant second to Formula One points leader
Alonso finished out of the points but still holds a commanding
lead with 87 points and six races left on the schedule. He was
forced into the pits with a damaged nose after the first lap and
Raikkonen can certainly empathize with the Spaniard's day. He
had to change his engine before both the French and British GPs,
costing him 10 spots on the starting grid each time, then stalled
on the track while leading last week's race in Germany.
"For sure it looks better now than the last race," Raikkonen
said. "It seems we throw away 10 points and then [Alonso] gives it
back. It goes backwards and forwards."
Raikkonen also led the San Marino GP and European GP before his
car broke down.
"It seems to be always that when we have a bad race we ... we
seem to win the next race," he said.
At the start, Schumacher pulled away untouched, followed closely
by Raikkonen and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya.
Alonso was squeezed to the curb by Ralf Schumacher and lost a
front wing. He came into the pits after the first lap and was more
than 30 seconds behind after two laps.
"I think I was unlucky today," Alonso said. "I was very
surprised by how many movements Ralf was making into the first
corner and he just didn't give me any room at all and hit the front
wing. When the wing came off, that did quite a lot of damage to the
Michael Schumacher had his brother to worry about on the final
laps. Ralf came within 0.6 seconds with four laps to go, but could
not find a way to pass. He finished third, his first podium of the
Behind them, Jarno Trulli came in fourth and Jenson Button
fifth, ahead of Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber. Takuma Sato finished
Alonso finished 11th more than a lap behind. Two years ago in
Hungary, he lapped Michael Schumacher on his way to becoming the
youngest winner in Formula One history.
Alonso's Renault team went scoreless, but it still leads the
constructor's standings 117-105 over McLaren.
"This was just not our weekend," said Renault's Giancarlo
Fisichella, who placed ninth.
The next race is the Turkish GP in Istanbul on Aug. 21, the
first Formula One race in that country.