Hungarian GP review: Hungry Hamilton is the HungaroKing

By on Sunday, July 28, 2013
Mercedes AMG Petronas

Mercedes AMG Petronas

In a supposed battle between the Red Bull and Lotus drivers in the sweltering heat, it was the tyre-hungry Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton that rose above both teams to record his first victory for the Silver Arrows at the Hungaroring.

With track temperatures hitting over 50 degrees centigrade at the start, few would have confidently predicted that Hamilton would be able to convert his fourth pole position of the season into a lead for more than a few laps.

Initially, the race was panning out as expected. Hamilton blitzed the opening lap, coming across the line over a second ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean. Vettel soon closed in on Hamilton but was unable to make sufficient inroads on his rival. Vettel began to slip back into the clutches of Grosjean – the two having come very close to disaster at the first corner – allowing Hamilton to open up a gap up front.

Suddenly it was Hamilton who was coming under pressure. His second and a half lead was slashed in the space of one lap and the Brit quickly dived into the pit lane for prime tyres. Vettel resumed the lead but came under even more pressure from Grosjean, who briefly got the gap down to just two tenths of a second. Vettel, then Grosjean, peeled off into the pit lane but crucially they both emerged behind the McLaren of Jenson Button.

Hamilton also came out of the pits behind his former team-mate, but was able to get through his rival with a couple of laps, giving him a healthy dose of clean air. Vettel could not repeat the move, meaning that the Red Bull driver was stuck behind Button for several laps. The German had a go at Button into Turn 2 but made minor contact with Button, damaging his front wing. Vettel eventually made it up the inside of Button into Turn four and Grosjean tried to follow suit, from where his afternoon began to unravel. Grosjean moved over on Button at the chicane and took to the pits for a precautionary stop. The Lotus driver was later handed a drive through penalty for exceeding track limits when passing Felipe Massa; an extraordinarily harsh penalty for what was a sublime move.

Red Bull/Getty Images

Red Bull/Getty Images

Mark Webber enjoyed a brief period at the head of the field while his alternative strategy played out but Hamilton quickly resumed the lead. Vettel began to eat away at Hamilton’s advantage but by now was 12 seconds behind his rival, such was the damage that getting stuck behind Button had done to his afternoon.

Hamilton emerged from his final stop narrowly behind Webber, who still had to stop for option tyres, but once again showed his overtaking prowess by dispatching with the Australian at Turn 3 and heading into a lead with he never relinquished. Webber took to the run-off as Hamilton made the move.

Kimi Raikkonen had enjoyed a quiet race – dropping as low as tenth after filtering back into traffic – but by stopping once less the Finn was now maintaining second place after Vettel made his final stop. It seemed improbable that Raikkonen would be able to keep a charging Vettel at bay but he turned his Lotus into the widest car on track and executed a beautifully defensive drive. Vettel had a go at Turn 4 but had to settle for the bottom step of the podium. A quirky statistic is that for each of Hamilton's four wins in Hungary, Raikkonen has been the runner-up.

Webber’s strategy netted him fourth place, ahead of a quiet Fernando Alonso in fifth. Grosjean was sixth following his unfortunate penalty, one position in front of his number one fan, Button.

Massa netted a few points for eighth place and was the victim of a couple of assaults, most notably on the opening lap with Nico Rosberg. The Mercedes driver tried to close the door on Massa but the duo made contact, sending Rosberg off the circuit.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Sergio Perez made a slow start and had a quiet race on the way to ninth, while a late fiery engine failure for Rosberg elevated Pastor Maldonado to tenth place, giving Williams their first point of the season.

Nico Hulkenberg was eleventh, having served a penalty for speeding in the pit lane, while the Toro Rosso duo of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo limped to twelfth and thirteenth as both drivers struggled with the STR8’s narrow operating window.

Giedo van der Garde enjoyed a strong day by finishing in fourteenth place, ahead of Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi and Max Chiilton.

Adrian Sutil was looking for a positive result on his hundredth race start but he was an early casualty as his Force India was affected by a hydraulics leak. Paul di Resta made a good start but also had to call it a day before the end courtesy of a similar issue. Joining them on the sidelines was Valtteri Bottas, who parked his smoking Williams at the final corner, and Esteban Gutierrez, who pulled into the pits early on.

Vettel still maintains a healthy lead in the championship, but with Hamilton and Mercedes on form, you’d be foolish to write them out of the title fight just yet…

Hamilton Budapest


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