David Coulthard column: Lewis Hamilton and flipside of brilliance
Last updated on .From the section Formula 1
Lewis Hamilton drove the Hungarian Grand Prix like he was having some kind of out-of-body experience.
It is not the first time this has happened to the world champion, who finished sixth after an error-strewn drive.
During a very up-and-down season in 2011, he was always bumping into Felipe Massa's Ferrari.
But then the wheels occasionally come off the wagon for all great drivers.
Ayrton Senna tripped over a backmarker when on his way to victory in Italy in 1988 and deliberately took out Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1990.
Michael Schumacher had his red-mist moments, too, when his judgement deserted him and he resorted to underhand tactics.
Fernando Alonso has occasionally let his emotions get the better of him as well, particularly when he was with McLaren in 2007.
F1 is an incredibly intense environment that pushes people to their limits in every possible way. Sometimes, you get these kinds of incidents.
It's the flipside of brilliance and Hamilton quite often dances a line between genius and disaster.
We saw that in the previous race at Silverstone, when he ran wide trying to pass Massa early on and lost ground.
Usually, because he is so good, it works out for him. But it will go wrong from time to time, as it did on Sunday.
More light than shade
If you itemise Hamilton's race in Hungary, the good outweighs the bad in many ways.
His display in practice and qualifying was flawless. And he can't be blamed for the start-system problems Mercedes are suffering at the moment.
Having dropped to fourth place by the second corner, he was on the back foot and made a mistake at the chicane and ran wide, dropping to 10th place.
But he fought back brilliantly to be fourth before half-distance, in a way that many other drivers would not have done.
That put him in with a chance of victory when the safety car came out and bunched up the field after Nico Hulkenberg's Force India crashed.
But then Hamilton made another mistake, misjudging how late he could brake on coolish 'medium' tyres while trying to defend against an overtaking move by Daniel Ricciardo.
The Australian had much more grip on his 'soft' tyres and Hamilton ended up sliding into the side of him.
Having changed his front wing and served a drive-through penalty for causing a collision, Hamilton then got his head down, again overtook several cars and fought back up to sixth place at the end.
You cannot get it right all the time. Yes, Hamilton made some mistakes, but Mercedes made some mistakes on strategy.
We expect drivers to be infallible and invincible, but no-one is that.
Hamilton is a heart-on-the-sleeve type of guy who lives an emotional rollercoaster, but he will bounce back.
What impact did Bianchi's death have?
There was great racing and some wild action at the Hungaroring.
It felt more like the first grand prix of the season, when everyone is a bit rusty, rather than the 10th.
Perhaps it had something to do with the loss of Jules Bianchi.
This is the first time this generation of drivers has had to deal with something like this and they had to contend with reminders of Bianchi's death all week.
From the funeral, through a meeting of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association on Friday, all their media interviews and then the minute's silence on the grid.
Maybe it destabilised them. After all, performance for elite sportsmen is as much about mind management as it is physical attributes.
Rosberg falls short
For all Hamilton's problems, he ended up gaining points on team-mate Nico Rosberg.
It was a missed opportunity for the German and further evidence that he seems unable to capitalise unless he is at the very front.
What cost Rosberg was his collision with Ricciardo late in the race, an incident that left his Mercedes with a punctured left rear tyre.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing but maybe Rosberg didn't need to let his car drift over as much as he did as he tried to secure the corner.
He was trying to defend his position but in doing so increased the risk of a collision. Unfortunately for him, the consequences were serious.
Ferrari bounce back
Sebastian Vettel drove a brilliant race to win, but there was no miracle leap forward from Ferrari in Hungary.
It was clear that Hamilton had the beating of them on raw pace, while Rosberg was out of sorts all weekend.
Ferrari were simply gifted an opportunity by the poor starts of both Mercedes cars.
Vettel was super-aggressive off the line and never looked like losing the race after claiming the first corner.
Kimi Raikkonen did a solid back-up job a few seconds behind, until he suffered a hybrid system failure.
The Finn might well have made it a Ferrari one-two.
From Raikkonen's point of view at least, what happened might be a blessing in disguise.
His future at Ferrari is in doubt and it is probably better for him to get the sympathy card from his team rather than finish 10 seconds or so behind Vettel.
You might not think so, but a lot of decisions are made on emotion in F1 rather than by studying the data, so Sunday's events could end up benefitting Raikkonen.
A welcome bonus for two great teams
Red Bull and McLaren also had a weekend to savour, with both enjoying their best races of the season.
It was great to see Alonso battling with the Toro Rossos and really showing his competitive spirit, which was also on display in qualifying when he pushed his car back to the pits after breaking down.
It would have been very easy for him to walk away and let the marshals get on with it - as other drivers have done.
But there he was, a double world champion with 32 victories and an all-time great, trying to push his car back to the pits, all in the hope of being 12th or 13th on the grid rather than 15th.
What fantastic commitment that is.
Commitment was also at the heart of Ricciardo's aggressive, fighting race for Red Bull.
I was happy to see Daniil Kvyat get his first podium, because he has been getting stronger and stronger this season and his pace was there for everyone to see in the race.
But he was not able to cut his way through the field in the same way Ricciardo did.
In that sense, Ricciardo is very like Hamilton or Alonso. You know he is going to make things happen for himself. It was great to watch.