Reflections on the Hungarian Grand Prix

12 August 1997

Andrew Frankl
Euro Bureau Chief

By now most of you will have seen or heard about the most exciting race for decades. I cannot remember something as riveting as this race since 1970 when Jack Brabham crashed into the guardrail 200 yards from the end of the Monaco Grand Prix whilst in the lead.

This time it was poor Damon Hill who really came back with a bang. Like my fellow scribes I also felt that not only was his car awful but that he lost motivation as well. Then came the rocket from his boss at Silverstone and surprise, surprise the former world champion started driving like his old self. After getting a point at his home race he drove well again in Germany and to everyone's amazement nearly won the race in Hungary. Had it now been for a problem with a hydraulic pump he would have scored the surprise of the decade, never mind the season. Let us not forget that back in Australia his car broke down on the warm-up lap!

He kept dropping out of races with such regularity that as I may have mentioned once before there was a cruel joke in Formula One circles about the difference between him and Tiger Woods. Answer: Tiger could drive 300 yards.. yes, I know it's cruel but it was true for a while.

Anyway, in front of a huge multi-national crowd-locals, Austrians, Germans, Czechs, Italians, it was a bit like the United Nations, a fact due to Hungary's geographic position.

They certainly saw an amazing race with world champion Michael Schumacher struggling in a spare car having crashed the good one during morning practice. As always though he did bring the car home gaining valuable points to stay at the top of the championship table.

Jacques Villeneuve was lucky but as always, he had to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of Damon's misfortune.

Johnny Herbert had a lonely race in third place, he got there by keeping his head down and minding his own business whilst others were dropping out like flies.

Frentzen's Williams looked like a rocket launcher at one point with flames shooting out of the back of the car. He did of course retire although through no fault of his own.

Japan's Nakano did a fine job in six place although he did shunt Eddie Irvine out of the way in kamikaze fashion. Dread to think what will happen next time they meet..

The two Benettons had a miserable day, they picked the wrong tyres and suffered for it with Berger in 8th and Alesi in 11th place.

Now the championship is closer than ever with Villeneuve breathing down Schumacher's neck. In two weeks time it will be the battle of the giants at Spain Belgium. It does very much look as though there will be some exceedingly interesting races to come, it has been a long time since the Championship was this close.

Stand by for a photo finish in October. TACH, as always, will of course be there.

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