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F1 Advent Calendar 2010 (Day 19) - Mind the gap // Safety car regulations cause chaos in the Hungarian GP

Published by Christine

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Hello and welcome to the F1 Advent Calendar 2010 brought to you by Sidepodcast. We're reviewing the 2010 series in bitesize pieces, a key event at a time. We're racing towards the end now, but there are a few more bits of the puzzle we have to get to. Today is Day 19 - Mind the gap.

Yesterday, we talked about what happened to Renault during the Safety Car period in Hungary. Today we're still looking at the same moment, but rather than in the pitlane, we're concentrating on what happened out on track.

Vettel had taken pole position for the Hungarian GP, with Webber second and Alonso behind. At the first corner, Alonso managed to make it past Webber, splitting the Red Bulls for the first part of the race.

When the aforementioned Safety Car was deployed, Vettel came in for a quick pitstop. Most of the other front-runners did the same, with the exception of Webber, who then took the lead. Red Bull had scrabbled together a new strategy of running really long on one set of tyres, in the hopes of taking back their second place. For now, his decision not to stop left him leading the pack behind the Safety Car.

When the lights went out on the Safety Car, indicating it was coming back in, Vettel began to back the pack up. He had returned to the track second behind Webber, so conspiracy theorists will tell you he was instructed to back up and hold Alonso up to give Webber the best possible restart for his new strategy. Red Bull denied any such thing.

Either way, Vettel broke the regulations which say you can't fall more than ten car lengths back. Sebastian was handed a drive-through penalty, and as he came through the pitlane to serve his time, he was visibly angry about it. He was heard on the radio asking what the penalty was for, and shook his fists at the pitwall as he passed by.

It's only slightly amusing, then, that the regulation was actually brought in because of the collision between Vettel and Webber in 2008. Back then, Hamilton was falling back behind the safety car, distracted Vettel who crashed his Toro Rosso into Webber's Red Bull. Thus, the regulation was introduced, and now Vettel appeared to have forgotten it again.

The race continued with Webber in the lead, Alonso was second and Vettel had fallen back to third, and that was how it finished. Directly after the race, Vettel said that he had been struggling with radio troubles, and thought they had another lap behind the safety car, so ultimately he was caught out when it came in. He added: "I didn't understand what was going on and why I was penalised. It was a question mark for me, I didn't understand until someone told me why after the race. It's pretty unlucky, because it would have been a walk in the park without that. Still, we saved a podium."

The race left him in third place in the championship standings, ten points off his teammate Webber who was leading. The tension was rising at Red Bull again, and Christian Horner was quick to jump to the defence of Vettel saying: "Unfortunately here didn't go his way, but he's had a black cloud following him for most of the season... Part of the emotion is what makes him so strong, and he obviously has to channel that into the car."

This was Red Bull's 100th Grand Prix, and they managed to win it, if perhaps not in the style they would have hoped for.

That's all for this episode of the F1 Advent Calendar 2010. Thank you for listening as I take you through the season gone by, and I hope you will join me again tomorrow when we reach Day 20.

All content in the series F1 Advent Calendar 2010