No overtaking, races being decided by how quickly some guys dressed like half-arsed stormtroppers can change a set of tyres and more discussions about types of rubber than you’d get at a brainstorm in the Durex offices. In recent years, it’s fair to say we’ve become accustomed to F1 races about as unpredictable as your average Dan Brown novel. In the last few seasons however, it’s actually become interesting, which is something of a double-edged sword for the Paddy Power Journalists. On one hand, we get to watch sport that’s genuinely exciting, but on the other, it kind of ruins F1’s status as our go-to gag for things that are boring. Thank God for Test cricket.
Anyway, the Hungarian Grand Prix was yet another reason for us to abandon the old stereotypes with enough drama to almost make listening to a Martin Brundle commentary seem worthwhile. Here’s a selections of lines and numbers that are supposed to represent the fluctuations in the odds from Sunday’s race. To us it looks like a metrosexual mountain range (or lopsided boobs if we kind of squint).
Pre-race: With Sebastian Vettel seemingly romping merrily to another F1 Drivers championship, from the moment he claims pole position at the Hungaroring he’s installed as 13/10 favourite to win his 7th win of the season. Lewis Hamilton claims second and is rated as a 6/4 chance to win the race – providing he doesn’t go a bit mad and try to run some people off the road. Jenson Button hangs on in there to take third on the grid and Felipe Massa claims 4th, everyone at the front is probably more worried about the threat of moody Spanish former World Champion, Fernando Alonso.
Lap 5: Sebastian Vettel starts the race like a man who’s had his engine replaced by solar panels and although he gets to the first corner in the lead, it isn’t long before Lewis Hamilton is all over him like a gaudy silk shirt on Eddie Jordan. The German manages to hold him off for a few laps, but on lap five a mistake allows Hamilton to take the lead. Hamilton goes odds on whilst Vettel hovers around the 5/2 mark.
Around Lap 10: Lewis starts to pull out a lead. It’s kind of wet, but it also looks like it’s about to dry out. If it was you, you’d be debating whether or not to take a jacket, but the teams need to decide what sort of tyre they should use.
Around Lap 15: It what’s starting to become a disappointingly familiar feeling for him, Vettel gets overtaken by another McLaren. This time it’s Jenson Button who goes from being an outsider to slightly less of an outsider to win the race. It’s still seen as Lewis’s race to lose and he’s big odds on to win his second race in succession.
Around Lap 25: Nick Heidfeld’s car goes on fire and then explodes. Although it’s highly amusing there are repercussions for the race and anticipating the deployment of the safety car, most of the leading contenders nip into the pits to do something or other. As it happens, the safety car isn’t needed and although Vettel retakes the lead, it’s only because he hasn’t yet had his pit stop whilst Lewis Hamilton has.
Around Lap 40: It still wet and Sebastian Vettel has the wrong tyres, prompting Martin Brundle to say “Look at Vettel, he’s got no front grip at all! It looks like a cross-Channel ferry!” by which we presume he means the car is now full of schoolkids vomiting from a combination of seasickness and ingesting near fatal levels of vodka. Hamilton and Button remain in first and second which means we’re all set for the type of battle between team-mates we’ve seen countless times in Formula 1 – namely Hamilton coasting to the chequered flag with Button under strict instructions to remain a safe distance behind him.
Around Lap 47: the rain comes and not taking that jacket looks like a stupid move. Lewis Hamilton is caught out and spins. Jenson Button takes the lead and favouritism for the race. I haven’t seen him look this smug a receiving something for doing basically nothing since the cheque for doing that Head and Shoulders ad cleared.
Around Lap 51: Now it’s getting a bit mental and Button spins his car allowing Hamilton to retake the lead. Button overtakes Hamilton again, but messes it up and hands the place back to his teammate. Hamilton is handed a drive through penalty and his chances of winning the race evaporate as he has to make another tyre change. It’s Jenson’s race to lose and it’s only now that I realise Fernando Alonso did very little in this race other than stay on the track, rarely had a chance of winning and it’s only because he finished third that he’s on the graph.
Around Lap 60: Hamilton puts in some blistering laps, but it’s really just to show off and bump himself up the places. Button has it in the bag. He’s briefly 1/200 before we decide it’s over as a contest and the sticking a fork in it can begin.