Nick Heidfeld held off the challenge of double Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso to secure his second podium of the season in Hungary - helping BMW to secure its best points haul since taking over the Sauber team at the start of 2006.

Allied to a fifth place for team-mate Robert Kubica, Heidfeld's third place helped BMW to secure ten points from the weekend, marking the first time the team has secured double figure points from a Grand Prix meeting and helping strengthen third place in the championship standings.

Although the grid penalty imposed on Alonso gave Heidfeld an unexpected front-row slot, it did mean the German was forced to start from the dirty side of the track and he slipped behind Kimi Raikkonen as a result when the lights went green.

Unable to keep pace with the front two, it then became a battle of strategies between BMW and McLaren to see if Alonso could jump up the order into a podium position but, despite the best efforts of the Spaniard, Heidfeld held on to bring the car to the finish.

"This was a superb race for me," Heidfeld reflected. "I was on the podium for the second time this year, and podiums were on our 'to do' list for this season.

"I had a bad start on the dirty side of the track and lost a place to Kimi, but anyway both Lewis and he have clearly been faster today, so a better start would not have changed much. I had some difficulties with the second and third sets of tyres and it was not easy to race against a 'ghost'. Of course I knew I was racing Fernando Alonso but, due to the different strategies, he wasn't visible to me.

"We decided early this weekend to go for a three stop strategy because the softer tyres caused trouble. I only used them in the last stint when my car was relatively light and the track had a lot of rubber. Fernando was faster than me almost everywhere and put me under pressure, but he didn't have a proper chance to overtake as this is very difficult here."

Technical director Willy Rampf described the race as being similar to a game of chess with planning and strategy being key, but he was thrilled to see the plan come to fruition for the best result collected by the team so far.

"This race was a wonderful game of chess, in which you could plan where and when to make your moves," he said. "Strategically it was extremely enjoyable, and because of a great pit crew it really worked perfectly for us.

"The performance of the pit crew was a crucial ingredient in this game of chess with the third stops, with the very quick tyre changes, being the most important. Both our drivers were fantastic today. They were fast and consistent and achieved the maximum today."

 

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