Lewis Hamilton was in a class of his own as he unexpectedly converted pole position into his fist Mercedes win for the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hamilton, now a four time winner in Budapest, didn’t suffer the tyre degradation that was expected and his ruthless overtakes when needed saw him comfortably win.
The 28 year-olds victory catapults him into title contention but he trails leader Sebastian Vettel by 48 points. The German was the favourite to win the race but suffered badly at the hands of Jenson Button after his first stop.
Vettel couldn’t get past the McLaren, who started on the medium tyres, and who made his first pit-stop much later then the front runners. The 12 laps spent behind Button cost Vettel as he couldn’t compete with Hamilton for the win and eventually finished third behind Raikkonen’s Lotus.
Kimi Raikkonen had struggled with pace all weekend and altered his strategy to play himself into contention by opting to make just two pit-stops in comparison to everyone else’s three. This left the Finn, who was cheered on by a large Finnish contingent, to spend 33 laps on his last set of tyres.
In coming second it was a superb demonstration of mixing tyre management and speed, although had the race lasted a couple of laps longer he would surely have been overtaken by the frustrated Vettel, who couldn’t find his way past after 10 laps behind.
With Fernando Alonso’s clear lack of pace in his Ferrari that resulted in a 5th placed finish, Raikkonen has now become Vettel’s main rival as he moves into second in the standings. Alonso struggled all afternoon to keep up with the leaders and he’ll be thankful that he came 5th after benefiting from others misfortune.
Raikkonen’s Lotus team mate, Romain Grosjean, who was many peoples tip to win the race, clearly showed he had the fastest car on the grid in the early laps. However, contact while over taking Button and an illegal overtake on Massa saw him penalised by the stewards and handed a drive through penalty, which ended any hope he had of a podium. He chased Alonso hard but just manage 6th.
Hamilton’s team mate Nico Rosberg continued his consistent inconsistency. Although blindingly fast, it is still an applicable question to wonder if he has the race craft and temperament to excel regularly at this level. Starting 4th, Rosberg couldn’t convert a good start and foolishly clashed with Felipe Massa on the opening lap while trying to cement his advantage in a corner. Rosberg turned in on Massa and the contact forced him off the circuit. An engine explosion ended his race early, but 9th was the best he was hoping for.
There was joy lower down the grid as Williams finally claimed their first point of the season, courtesy of Pastor Maldonado’s tenth place. Torro Rosso continued to prove that their race pace doesn’t live up to their qualifying pace as Daniel Ricciardo sunk from 8th to 14th. With Red Bull due to announce Mark Webbers replacement for next season soon, Ricciardo can’t afford to keep sliding down the field in races after impressive qualifying performances.
The drivers now have four weeks to prepare for the next Belgian Grand Prix as they enter the summer break. Vettel is still favourite to retain his crown, but he has three superstars all waiting in the wings.
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