Hungarian GP: Hamilton Triumphs In Budapest

Sunday 29-July-2012 14:48

Lewis Hamilton produced a tenacious victory in the Hungarian GP as the McLaren driver held off two separate attacks from the two Lotus drivers.

Romain Grosjean was held at bay in the opening two stints, while after some intra-team contact on Lap 46, it was Kimi Raikkonen who took over the challenge and tried and failed to overhaul the Brit in the final stint.

A frustrated Sebastian Vettel came home in fourth place after yelling at his engineer in a remarkable outburst to "do something!"

Race Report
The forecast rain that might have mixed up the order failed to arrive at Budapest and it was an ambient of 31C and 46C as Lewis Hamilton led the cars off on two parade laps, the second necessary after Michael Schumacher's engine died on the grid. That reduced the racing laps from 70 to 69.

Seven rows of grid: 1.Hamilton, 2.Grosjean, 3.Vettel, 4.Button, 5.Raikkonen, 6.Alonso, 7.Massa, 8.Maldonado, 9.Senna, 10.Hulkenberg, 11.Webber, 12.DiResta,13.Rosberg, 14.Perez.

Start: As the lights went out Hamilton was able to pull clear of Grosjean who immediately came under pressure from Sebastian Vettel who tried to go round the outside of the Lotus driver at Turn 1. Jenson Button decided to take advantage and was past the World Champ after running side by side through Turns 2 and 3.

Mark Webber got an unusually good start and Felipe Massa got an unusually poor start while Pastor Maldonado also lost a handful of places. Further back the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi was squeezed to the outside by a Toro Rosso and ended up the the first lap in 19th place. No bodywork lost on the opening tour.

Positions at the end of lap 11.Hmailton, 2.Grosjean, 3.Button, 4.Vettel, 5.Alonso, 6.Raikkonen, 7.Webber, 8.Senna, 9.Massa, 10.Hulkenberg, 11.Rosberg, 12.Maldonado, 13.Perez, 14.DiResta

Yet again Kimi Raikkonen had lost places on the opening lap and it would cost him later on. Michael Schumacher - starting from the pitlane - decided to change strategy and came in early for a set of medium tyres. Speeding down the pitlane didn't help his strategy and so he was back soon for a drive-through.

At the front Lewis Hamilton established a gap of 2.1 seconds by Lap 2, but that gap didn't get bigger as Grosjean dogged his every move in the opening stint. By lap 9 it was exactly the same. In the opening laps of the race it became obvious that Button was dropping back from Grosjean, Vettel was pressing Button hard and in doing so was going clear of Alonso who had Raikkonen up his exhaust.

No overtaking was going on despite the DRS.

On Lap 15 Button pitted; Lap 16 Senna pitted; Lap 17 Vettel pitted and emerged behind Button while Alonso came in at the same time and emerged behind the yet-to-stop Perez. Hamilton came in on Lap 18, Grosjean on Lap 19 and Raikkonen and Mark Webber on Lap 20.

While Hamilton had taken on a set of medium tyres, Grosjean was on softs and was looking a whole lot quicker. Despite being hampered by a slow stop Grosjean was soon up with Hamilton again. Meanwhile Kimi Raikkonen had easily got past Alonso through the pit-stops. Alonso had been held up by Perez on fading tyres and all of a sudden the Sauber just faded out of the way of the Ferrari on its run down to Turn 4.

Positions at the end of Lap 22: 1.Hamilton, 2.Grosjean, 3.Button, 4.Vettel, 5. Raikkonen, 6.Alonso, 7.Webber, 8.Senna, 9.Massa, 10.Rosberg, 11.Hulkenberg 12.Maldonado, 13.Perez, 14.DiResta

Grosjean was lapping 0.7 quicker than Hamilton until he closed up, and then it was a question of following the McLaren round and getting frustrated. Vettel was in the same position stuck behind Button but he was getting more frustrated. He could also see Kimi Raikkonen approaching at speed in his mirrors.

Over race radio Vettel gave the astonishing command: "I can go much faster than him so do something!" and then "Try something, try something!" to which he got the sensible reply from his engineer Rocky: "There are cars behind, Sebastian, we can't just do anything."

Jenson Button pitted early for soft tyres on Lap 34 indicating that he would need to stop again before the end of the race and do a three-stopper, ending any outside chance he had of a podium finish. By this stage Grosjean was still 1.0 behind Hamilton but unable to do anything about it.

At least Button's pit-stop had released Vettel but Kimi Raikkonen behind was putting in a dazzling series of fastest laps, taking it down from 1:26.365 on Lap 36 to 1:25.728 on Lap 41. All done on worn tyres. While Grosjean's lap times had slowed behind Hamilton, Kimi had free air.

Grosjean pitted for the second time on Lap 39, allowing the nervous engineers of McLaren to bring Hamilton in a lap later. They had been fearful that Lewis's tyres wouldn't have lasted the distance in the middle stint and that he would have had to switch to 'Plan B' like Jenson and go for a three-stopper that would have handed the win to Lotus. Grosjean's early stop was thus a gift.

Grosjean emerged behind the yet-to-stop Fernando Alonso while Kimi was still putting the hammer down behind them both. Alonso finally got out of the way of Grosjean on Lap 43, but when Kimi came in for tyres on Lap 45 he emerged side by side with Grosjean going into Turn 1.

Kimi had the inside line for the corner and the two Lotus cars touched wheels sending Grosjean out wide. Raikkonen had jumped from net P4 to P2 in one mega middle stint.

Button meanwhile came in for a third pit-stop on Lap46 and because he had a problem on the left-front corner exited behind Alonso. He had been held up a long time behind Senna and now he would have to follow Alonso.

Positions on Lap 46: 1.Hamilton, 2.Raikkonen, 3.Grosjean, 4.Vettel, 5.Webber, 6.Alonso, 7.Button, 8.Senna, 9.Massa, 10.Rosberg, 11.Perez, 12.Hulkenberg.

On Lap 47 Lewis had a lead of 3.5 seconds over Raikkonen but that would vanish as Kimi closed to 0.9 by Lap 53.

Pastor Maldonado tried to get past Paul DiResta on Lap 48 and lost control of his Williams (again) and gave the Force India a nudge with his front tyres into DiResta's sidepod. The stewards decided to investigate the move and rewarded Maldonado with a drive-through penalty.

Kimi's KERS had been working off and on through the race and was occasionally being set to 40Kilowatts to give him some boost through the lap. Hamilton was typically faster in the last sector of the lap giving him a good lead-out onto the start-finish straight. He needed to manage his tyres till the end of the race and hope he could stop them from falling off the cliff.

The Red Bulls obviously believed that theirs were likely to because they brought Sebastian Vettel in for an extra set on Lap 58 (of 69) and Mark Webber on Lap 55. Because there was now an enormous gap between himself in 4th and Alonso in 5th Vettel didn't lose a place (though it was very close into Turn 1) but the stop dropped Webber from 5th to 8th.

Vettel, now in clear air, produced a series of spectacular fastest laps in his pursuit of Grosjean (the best a 1:24.136) - often at two seconds a lap quicker and by the line was just 1.0 seconds shy of the Frenchman. Grosjean dropped off the Raikkonen vs Hamilton battle quite considerably, but Kimi could not find a way past Lewis because he couldn't get anywhere near him on the straight.

So it was Hamilton's 19th win, his third Hungarian GP victory, followed home by the two Lotus drivers, one of whom would be keen to discuss Lap 46. Vettel was 4th, Alonso 5th, Button 6th, Senna 7th and Webber 8th with Massa and Rosberg making up the final points places.

Despite predictions, it had been a Hungarian GP in the mould of previous Hungarian GPs, a lot of following and not much overtaking, but one in which we got a very revealing insight into the mindset of the current World Champion.


01. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1h41:05.503
02. Raikkonen Lotus-Renault + 1.032
03. Grosjean Lotus-Renault + 10.518
04. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 11.614
05. Alonso Ferrari + 26.653
06. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 30.243
07. Senna Williams-Renault + 33.899
08. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 34.458
09. Massa Ferrari + 38.300
10. Rosberg Mercedes + 51.200
11. Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes + 57.200
12. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1:02.800
13. Maldonado Williams-Renault + 1:03.6
14. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 1:04.4
15. Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
16. Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
17. Kovalainen Caterham-Renault + 1 lap
18. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 2 laps
19. Petrov Caterham-Renault + 2 laps
20. Pic Marussia-Cosworth + 2 laps
21. Glock Marussia-Cosworth + 3 laps
22. De la Rosa HRT-Cosworth + 3 laps
Did not finish
Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 63
Schumacher Mercedes 61

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