Group Lotus F1 ambassador Jean Alesi gives us his thoughts on the Hungarian Grand Prix.

It was the first time this season that Lotus Renault GP failed to finish in the points. You must be disappointed…

It’s clear the performance of the team relative to our rivals is dropping off. To be honest we were expecting a little bit more from the car. Vitaly Petrov’s 12th place isn’t very exciting, but then he – like half the field – made the gamble of changing to Intermediate tyres late in the race and then changing back again.

Things got pretty scary for Nick Heidfeld when his car overheated in the pits and caught fire. He spent a long time with the engine on the limiter with no possibility to cool the car and as a result the exhausts overheated and the surrounding bodywork caught fire – thankfully no one was seriously injured. I know the team is looking into the problem and makes sure that it won’t happen again.

What goes through a driver’s mind when he sees flames licking the cockpit?

Get out! Nick did everything perfectly in this situation. He parked the car away from the track, away from the pits and other cars, got out quickly, and the marshals were straight on it. I remember being in this same situations many times with Ferrari!

Should the fire have triggered the Safety Car? Was it safe to have marshals working on putting the fire out next to the track, and then tractor the car the wrong way up the pitlane while the race was in full swing?

Signaling the Safety Car is always a tricky decision because you don’t want to disrupt the race, and there will always be people who are disadvantaged, or are given an advantage, or don’t agree with the decision.

Nick parked off the track and I don’t believe it was in a dangerous position, it was on the far side of the track. However, when they brought the car back up the pitlane that was a bit scary.

Mixed weather, mixed tyre strategies, plenty of overtaking. Was this the most interesting Hungarian Grand Prix you’ve ever seen?

Yes, because usually this race is pretty dull. There’s not much opportunity for overtaking because it’s so twisty and you need rain or changeable conditions to spice things up… which is what happened.

It was 2006 when we had another good wet race here and, ironically, Jenson Button won that one too. Congratulations on his 200th grand prix. Two more races and he’ll equal my total.

I must say, though, I wouldn’t have penalized Lewis Hamilton for spinning his car back around in front of Paul di Resta. Lewis was in the middle of the track and he was just trying to get out of the way. Di Resta wasn’t approaching fast. The speed in that chicane is only 60km/h, nothing dramatic. I felt this was a harsh penalty. But by changing to Intermediate tyres, Hamilton ruled himself out of contention anyway.

The teams will now take a little summer break. What are you doing for your holidays Jean?

I’m off to Sicily, where I was born. It’s a beautiful place. I have my boat there, and will be spending a lot of time swimming in the sea, gazing up at Mount Etna.

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