SportF12006 Hungarian GP: when Alonso dressed up as Senna...

2006 Hungarian GP: when Alonso dressed up as Senna and Pedro's podium

On August 6, 2006 , we witnessed one of the best performances of Fernando Alonso’s career, although many do not think so because the man from Oviedo ended up against the wall on lap 52. It was the Hungarian Grand Prix, and at that time , the Spaniard himself and Michael Schumacher were the only two candidates for the world title, which would be the second for the Spaniard or the eighth for the German.

The couple reached the 13th round of the calendar with only 11 points between them and Renault at the top of the classification, but from the beginning of the weekend there was controversy. In free practice, both Alonso and Schumacher were penalized with two seconds over their qualifying time, for not respecting the yellow flags in the case of the Spanish, and the red in the German.

Thus, the 1:19.364 that the Asturian was worth to be second sent him to 15th position with the penalty, while the Kaiser achieved pole position with a 1:18.875 , for which he finished in 12th place on the grid exit. They weren’t the only ones with penalties, Scott Speed’s Toro Rosso had its three best times erased, and Jenson Button and Christijan Albers added ten positions for changing the engine.

Once the order in the classification was ready for the traffic lights to go out, the drama appeared in the form of rain. With Kimi Raikkonen on pole position, accompanied on the front row by Felipe Massa’s Ferrari, the fastest single-seaters in the world embarked on the 70 laps of the Hungarian event, where Pedro de la Rosa was also in the McLaren, who started from 5th place.

It was at that exact moment, in the initial lap, where we saw one of the best moments in the history of Formula 1, with Fernando Alonso coming back in the rain in something more like an exit from a video game with the rivals on the hardest difficulty. low possible than a real-life snatch. The Renault man made his way to climb to 6th position in just one lap, although Schumacher was not short, as he placed 4th, recalling actions such as that of Ayrton Senna at Donington Park in 1993, where he had no rivals on the water on the first turn.

However, it was the Spaniard who seemed unbeatable on the Hungaroring track, and it did not take him long to get his teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, and the German himself out of the way, with an overtaking on the outside in which the Ferrari driver could do little. by the incredible superiority of Alonso.

With the path clear, the then reigning world champion only had the two McLarens ahead of him, after passing Rubens Barrichello, and on lap 17 he was already the consolidated leader of the race. The appointment became easier for the Spaniard, and that is that on lap 26 , Kimi Raikkonen, who could be Alonso’s only rival that day, crashed into Vitantonio Liuzzi’s Toro Rosso, causing a safety car.

On that lap another unique moment was experienced for the sport in Spain, and it was the first time that two drivers of that nationality led a Formula 1 Grand Prix, with Alonso ahead of Pedro de la Rosa, something that they have only been able to the same from Oviedo and Carlos Sainz at the 2022 Canadian Grand Prix.

However, that was short-lived, as Jenson Button’s Honda, quietly, slipped into second place, leaving the other Spaniard’s McLaren third. When everything seemed resolved for the Renault garage, a stop of 6.4 seconds 19 laps from the end to change the tires and refuel Alonso, was the trigger for the race.

The Spaniard left the pitlane confident that he could endure the rest of the test to beat Michael Schumacher and gain more points, but a nervous R26 caused him to end up against the protections of the second corner. Looking at one detail, the team could see that it was not a driving error, but rather a badly tightened nut , the one on the right rear tire.

A crestfallen world leader saw how one of his best performances in Formula 1 ended in nothing due to a failure to stop, and he went to the paddock with his helmet on without striking up a conversation with anyone.

“A problem with the rear driveshaft at the pitstop, in turn 1 I almost crashed, and in turn 2 I couldn’t brake. It’s a shame because I think we were going well to try to win the race, but problems also come sometimes “, he told reporters once he had calmed down.

“The first lap and the first part were good, the whole race in general, but it’s a mechanical problem, so I can’t complain. There’s not much to do, we’ve done what we could”, he explained with a satisfied smile. when he realized what he was achieving in Hungary.

Despite the fact that the Spanish fans lost Alonso by the end of the race, Pedro de la Rosa was still holding on, who with a brilliant performance was glued to the rear wing of Schumacher’s Ferrari, which he was pressing.

With decision, the Barcelonan attacked the German when he could, causing him to skip the chicane of the second sector on several occasions until the Kaiser finally retired due to a problem in the direction just three turns to see the checkered flag, leaving the road clear for the McLaren rider to climb to his first and only podium in the highest category of motorsport.

After nearly two hours of underwater torture, Jenson Button, who up to that point had the third-longest streak of races played without a win, a total of 113, second only to Jarno Trulli [113] and Rubens Barrichello [124], he became the 96th driver to win a Formula 1 grand prix .

With tears in his eyes and an emotional father, the Briton celebrated his conquest, the last for Honda as a team in the Grand Circus, but his eyes were also fixed on de la Rosa, who was uncorking the champagne for the first time in his life, something that he could never repeat. Nick Heidfeld accompanied the two protagonists of the day on a date in which another made his debut who would also leave great memories, Robert Kubica, who showed signs of what he would be capable of, with a 7th position in his premiere, but ended up disqualified for not meeting the minimum weight.

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