Formula One Season Heats Up
by ANTHONY FONTANELLE
Going into the European Grand Prix last Sunday, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton has a commanding twelve point lead over teammate Fernando Alonso. But after a chaotic race which saw several drivers retiring, Alonso took the win while Hamilton for the first time in his career failed to finish in the top three. Furthermore, Hamilton failed to score a point as he finished ninth.
That means that ten points were awarded to the double world champion Alonso. The Spaniard now has 68 points after ten races. He is now trailing Hamilton only by a couple of points. This shows how unpredictable the sport is. While Hamilton and Alonso are on the top of the drivers’ championship standings, the two McLaren drivers are not the only ones vying for the championship.
Scuderia Ferrari’s duo of Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen are still in contention for the championship. The Brazilian Massa is currently third with 59 points so far, 11 points behind Hamilton and nine behind Alonso. The Finn Raikkonen, on the other hand, has 52 points. It can be remembered that Raikkonen overtook his teammate in the standings after his back-to-back wins at the French and British Grands Prix.
At the European Grand Prix though, Raikkonen failed to finish as he was forced to retire on the 34th lap as his car’s hydraulics failed. Hamilton, on the other hand, only managed to finish ninth after he qualified tenth after a crash in the qualifying session. The front tire of Hamilton’s car was secured poorly after the team’s wheel gun malfunctioned. Although other parts of the steering system are intact such as the Mercedes struts, the wheel rubbed into the car which caused the accident.
The win by Alonso and the second place finish of Massa means that the race for the championship is now getting more competitive. Although Hamilton still leads the field, he is now facing a tougher challenge from teammate Alonso and the Ferrari pair.
Aside from the disappointing ninth place finish by the championship leader and Raikkonen’s retirement, the European Grand Prix is full of surprises. Only for the second time this season, a driver aside from McLaren and Ferrari’s pairs finished in the top three. Australian Mark Webber finished third for Red Bull. Webber’s teammate David Coulthard also managed to finish sixth although he started fro the 20th position on the grid.
Spyker’s rookie Markus Winkelhock posted a record at the European Grand Prix. The German Formula One driver who took over the seat of Christijan Albers became the first driver to start in a Grand Prix both in the last and first position. The rookie started at the back of the grid but was soon leading the race as he was the first to have tires suited to the wet tracks after rain poured. When the rain continued pouring, the race was red flagged on the fourth lap. When the race was restarted, Winkelhock started at the front of the grid.
The surprising debut of the German though did not end well as he was forced to retire after his car’s hydraulics malfunctioned. The German though is expected to be driving for Spyker for the upcoming Hungarian Grand Prix. At the said race, the four drivers on top are expected to step up their game as the season reaches its most crucial stages. With more than half of the season already in the books, every race and every point is important for these championship hopefuls.