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Reflections on the Hungarian Grand Prix
12 August 1997
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
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