The lead up to this years Hungarian Grand Prix has us remembering the fantastic 2006 event where big teeth Button capitalized on the misfortune of the whole grid to finally win his first race. The first laps were stunning by Fernando Alonso, starting 16th and quickly dicing past the whole field including rain-maestro M. Schumacher. Over at F1 Fanatic, the claim is that it could be the best lap ever.
In the 50 years of F1, that's a tall order. The legacy of skilled drivers ranges from multi-World Champions (Senna's Monaco Pole lap) to amazing talents like Ronnie Peterson, who could float his car on the limits of adhesion with frightening audacity and still be the fastest. Most of F1's history doesn't have library on-board camera footage to track these super-laps so its a bit of a stretch to say that Alonso's was the best.
There is one particular lap of the God's that is often written about in books but not much in the Interweb. This particular race came long before Bernie Ecclestone's dream of F1 and way before our soapbox here called the Suitcase of Courage. The setting was the 1957 German Grand Prix and Juan Manuel Fangio was on the cusp of winning his 5th World Driver's Title ...
Fangio started on Pole but the faster Ferraris took the lead at the start with Collins and Hawthorn dueling through the Ardennes forrest. The maestro took his time in his Lancia-Ferrari waiting for the time to get in front of two Brits who were racing eachother rather than holding station.
Fangio in classic style and grace built up a lead, a cushion big enough to nip into the pits and get out in front. But at half distance, the pit stop was catastophically long and the two Ferraris got in front. With 10 laps to go, Fangio was over 1m58 seconds behind the leaders, so the Ferrari team signaled to his two drivers to take an easy as it was thought Fangio would have to tolerate 3rd place.
In the proceding laps, Fangio strung together perhaps some of the finest driving laps in the history of the sport. A true display of dipping into the Suitcase of Courage and finding speed that nobody knew existed. Overcoming a two minute gap, he reset the lap record with each circulation of the 14-mile "Green Hell". That's 7 lap records in a row. In Fangios words, "The first time I dared to go through flat-out, the car zoomed into the air, flew for about an hour, and landed at the very edge of the track, near the wire fencing they had then. Only God knows how the right reflex functioned to twitch the wheel, but there I was, back in business. So, that was it. From then on I took that bend flat-out. On that place alone I knew I was saving seconds that I had to have."
No disk brakes, no seatbelts, no proper safety gear just pure balls. On the penultimate lap with his tires properly shagged, Fangio passed both Ferraris to the chagrin of the Brits, and the old Man Ferrari himself. And yet again, another lap record - a 9.17.4 seconds. Nothing like taking 8 seconds out of the lap record on your way to your retirement and 5th World Championship.
So is it actually effective comparing something like this to Alonso's well documented 2006 Hungarian GP with Fangio at the 'Ring? The Hungaroring is a ludicrious example of an F1 track. Granted, it was rainy and it was slick, but the ultimate one lap? I think not but it sure was an awesome display for us sitting on our couch in awe.