Hungarian Grand Prix: Mercedes's Lewis Hamilton wins, but Vettel still leads championship table
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton won his first Grand Prix of the season and his first for Mercedes at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Lewis drove a brilliant race starting from pole and holding off Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel at the start and then managing his tyres well to take the top step of the podium for the 23rd time.
Lewis made two key moves that proved successful – the first being his pass on McLaren’s Jenson Button right after his pit stop and the next one on Mark Webber into Turn 3. Both these moves put him into clear air and helped him take the lead and consolidate it.
Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen drove another great race, finishing second. He started from the P6 at the beginning of the race. The Finn, who has a staunch fan following in Hungary, was one of only four drivers to stop only twice. He had a really great battle with Vettel in the closing stages.
Vettel came here looking very strong but was beaten by Hamilton in qualifying. Everybody expected him to overtake Hamilton quickly but that wasn’t the case. The German was stuck behind Button for over 12 laps which cost him a lot of time and grid position. The three-time world champion finished third.
This helped him extend his Championship lead to 38 points over Kimi Raikkonen in second spot, and 39 points over Fernando Alonso, who finished fifth in the race.
Mark Webber, who had a disastrous qualifying due to a KERS issue, showed us his true form by pushing hard during the race. He finished fourth, 5.5 seconds behind his teammate Vettel. Webber was right behind Hamilton in second position before pitting for option tyres in the closing stages. Surely the Australian will be happy with his performance.
Ferrari, meanwhile, desperately need to give Fernando Alonso a car he can win with. Alonso must be getting frustrated to watch his Championship rivals increase their lead. He could manage only fifth, which was probably the best his car could go. His teammate Felipe Massa finished in eighth.
Romain Grosjean looked really quick in the beginning, but his aggressive driving style once again cost him a podium place. He touched Button’s car and this earned him a drive through penalty and so he could manage only sixth.
McLaren seem to have turned things around after putting both their cars in the points today – Jenson Button finished in seventh and Sergio Perez finished ninth, with both stopping only twice and overtaking a handful of cars today.
Their immediate rivals Force India had a disastrous day after neither car managed to finish the race. Adrian Sutil’s race was over on the 19th lap after a suspected hydraulics issue ending his 100th Grand Prix early. Di Resta’s car was wheeled into the garage four laps before the end.
This now moves the Mclaren team just two points behind Force India in the Constructors Championship.
There were a lot of reasons for the Williams team to celebrate as their driver Pastor Maldonado finished in 10th to score their first championship point this season. This is probably their worst start to a season and they can only hope to turn things around next year when they switch to Mercedes power. Maldonado’s team-mate, however, had a smoky end to his race after his car stopped at the exit of the final corner on lap 45.
Sauber had another bad day after failing to score a single point this race. Their driver Nico Hulkenburg could manage only 11th whereas his team-mate Esteban Gutierrez’s race was over on lap 30. The team has managed to score points in only four of the 10 races so far. A lot of improvement is needed and with fresh financial help coming in from Russian firms, we can only hope that things change soon for the Swiss-based team.
Torro Rosso did not have a good day after neither driver finished in the top 10. Their drivers Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo finished 12th and 13th respectively. Ricciardo impressed after qualifying in 8th but disappointed in the race.
Caterham’s Giedo Van Der Garde finished 14th to equal his team’s best performance this season, ahead of his team-mate Charles Pic in 15th.
Marussia’s Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton were the last two finishers in 16th and 17th respectively.
One big name missing from the finishers’ list is that of Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, who had a bad start after dropping back to 12th because of contact with Massa. His race ended on lap 66 when fire and smoke started emanating from his engine. He was quick to park his car in the run off area down at turn 2 and escaped unhurt. This is his third retirement of the season.
So that’s it for the first half of the season. Hamilton takes his first victory for Mercedes, while Vettel extends his lead further still. Raikkonen looks like his only rival at this point with Alonso’s Ferrari not as quick as it should be.
Next up is the legendary Belgian Grand Prix at the Circuit de Spa Francochamps in late August. There are four long weeks to go before the drivers return to the track. The teams will now return to their bases and take a well-deserved break.
As always though, the factories will shut down but not the minds. Lots of interesting developments regarding next year’s line up could be decided during this break. Will Raikkonen sign for the second Red Bull seat or will Red Bull nurture another Sebastian Vettel in the form of Ricciardo? We will have to wait and find out.