Alonso surges into Rankings top two with Hungary win
Fernando Alonso surged into second place in the Castrol EDGE Rankings following his fine victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The top two spots in the Rankings have been Red Bull’s domain almost exclusively since late 2010, when Mark Webber moved up into second behind Sebastian Vettel.
And while the German’s position at the head of the standings remains, for now at least, out of reach, Alonso signalled his intentions by denying Webber a 39th consecutive week in second.
In addition to that boon, Alonso also has the satisfaction of once again closing heavily on Vettel, whose position at the top is becoming increasingly precarious.
At the start of this season, for example, Vettel lead Alonso by more than 12,000 points in the Rankings – meaning he had almost double Alonso’s total. Now, the gap stands at just 4,000.
Added to Alonso’s joy was the fact he was also able to extend his championship lead.
Having also won at Silverstone, he is now 34 points clear of Webber at the head of the standings.
That gap in truth owes something to Vettel’s post-race penalty for passing Jenson Button by going off track – which effectively dropped him from second to fifth.
The subsequent change of result also affected Vettel in the Rankings.
Yet to win a grand prix on home soil, this year’s race therefore offered Vettel the chance to correct that record and gain some ground in the Rankings – a precious opportunity given how his 2011 dominance has left him facing an uphill task most weekend.
With second becoming fifth however he slid again, losing 400 points and falling to his lowest total since April 2011.
The fact he still remains top owes much to the unpredictable nature of this year’s championship, which has – until the last two races at least - helped spread the gains around the field rather than allowing one man to pull clear.
One of the main beneficiaries of that trend has been 2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen.
In the first year of his F1 comeback with Lotus, the Finn has rocketed up the Rankings order.
205th at the start of the year, and 373rd at the season’s beginning, he now lies 40th, having gained 15 places on the back of his Hungary podium.
Button, the rostrum’s third occupant and runner-up in the race, also gained ground, although not position.
Having fallen off the back of the top four due to a poor run in recent weeks, a second place at Hungary allowed him to close in once again on team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Sauber’s pairing of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi were the other big movers of the weekend.
Perez, the higher of the two, moved up one spot to 33rd on the back of his sixth-place finish.
His gains were outdone by Kobayashi: the Japanese driver finishing two places up the road in fourth, leading to a nine-place rise into 41st.
In the opposite direction, Romain Grosjean slipped five spots to 57th as a result of his early woes, and his eventual 18th-place finish.