Hamilton Stays Ahead Of Chasing Lotus To Win Hungarian GP

From the first practice session on Friday morning to the chequered flag on Sunday afternoon, there was one man and one man alone who was out in front in a league of his own. After being quickest in two of the three practice sessions and only then was he second to his team-mate, he took pole position by a wide margin of four tenths of a second on Saturday. Lewis Hamilton claimed victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix to bring himself back into championship contention after his challenge was appearing fragile following a low finish and  a retirement at the two previous venues of Silverstone and Hockenheim respectively.

A delighted Hamilton praised the fans and his team, whilst also stating he may not have won if the trailing Lotus cars had started together on the front row:

“An amazing day, fantastic work by all the team and the fans have been fantastic. These guys were rapid,” he said. “If they had qualified at the front it would have been impossible to get past them.”

Raikkonen kept Hamilton modest until the end

In the early stages of the race, it was Romain Grosjean who stayed in second and kept pressure on the leading McLaren, but as the race developed it was Kimi Raikkonen who hustled and harrassed Hamilton all the way to the flag, but the Mercedes-developed KERS system was superior to that in the Lotus’ and was a contributing factor to the victory.

As has been a familiar theme of the season, the Finn bemoaned his qualifying as a fifth-place start meant he had work to do with strategy before attacking the race winner was possible, eventually meaning that another possible win was not turned into a reality:

“We always try to win and sometimes you get close and it is a bit disappointing that we cannot,” said Raikkonen. “We know the reason: we are not so strong in qualifying and make it hard for ourselves on Sunday.

“We should be able to put ourselves in a good position and get good points, but it is a long season. We are improving all the time, and if it comes, great, if not we keep trying.

“I have been in this business long enough to not worry about things too much.”

A smiling Grosjean stood on the podium for the third time this season

Romain Grosjean continued to keep his profile on the rise, finishing a double podium for the Lotus team. The Frenchman expressed disappointment at missing out on the victory but said that the difficulties in directly following another car ensured the leader stayed in front:

“We were close to fight for the win, so we are a little bit [disappointed] today. But I got stuck behind another car on that blue flag and it didn’t really respect it. It is really difficult for the car here to be close and not make mistakes.”

Following his final pit-stop, Grosjean re-joined the track with Raikkonen alongside him going into turn 1, with both cars almost colliding as Raikkonen forced his team-mate wide, off the race track in a hard but fair move. Grosjean said he felt it needed to be done and had no bad feeling:

“It was close with Kimi, he did what he had to do,” Grosjean said. “I got marbles on my tyres and struggled to recover, but it is what it is.

“It was the same story with Kimi [as with Vettel] – I was inside of Seb so it was alright.”

Despite his wins in recent years, Vettel still has yet to win a race in July

Similar to the German Grand Prix a week ago, Sebastian Vettel said that he could have had a better race if he did not have to chase other cars, blocking any potential free air but said that improvements in future qualifying sessions would be better for the team to show it’s true speed:

“I think our overall speed was better than the actual result we got,” said Vettel.

“I was stuck behind Jenson Button in the first stint; he was slower and we lost some time there, but of course you can’t just pit and come out in clean air, there’s traffic, so there’s not much we could have done. The race pace was very good, so now it’s up to us to do better in qualifying and at the start; then it’s a different race.”

Alonso increases his championship lead over Webber to 40 points – ten short of two race wins

Fernando Alonso may have finished a low-profile fifth, but he finished in a higher position than that of his direct championship rival Mark Webber, who ended the race in eighth. Alonso was pleased to increase his points lead on a day that he said went better than he could have hoped:

“Incredible again. Another very, very good Sunday for the championship,” he said. “I don’t think we have been quick on Saturday or Sunday or on Friday and we still finished ahead of our main rivals, so it’s been another Sunday that was better than expected.

“I think no one here thinks it’s normal to finish ahead of a McLaren or a Red Bull, but we finished ahead of one of each, so it was better than expected, especially thanks to the strategy, because the cars that finished behind us made three stops. We made two and this time it was the right call and it turned out well.”

The Ferrari did finish nearly 30 seconds behind the race winner, and Alonso stated that improvements were needed. Despite wins in recent races, he had consistently demanded the need for improvements and stayed with the same story after the race, praising the team for its development work:

We’ve been saying that all the time,” said Alonso about Ferrari’s need to improve. “We finished Canada and said we needed to improve. We finished Valencia and said we needed to improve. At Silverstone we had to improve, and here we have to improve again.

“Because we won a couple of races it seemed that everything was on the right path, but we have never said anything else. This weekend, with dry running on Friday, Saturday and Sunday you can see more clearly, but Lotus, McLaren and Red Bull have been ahead of us for the whole championship.

“It’s just that at the start of the year it was 1.5 seconds, then eight tenths, then four, then six. That’s the great merit of the team, that with all that, we are 40 points ahead, which is completely abnormal.”

Jenson had a rather quiet race, but was not so quiet in question his team

Jenson Button was puzzled after his team decided to switch strategies, a decision which he said may have cost them a higher finish:

I don’t know what was going on there really,” Button admitted. “The weird thing was after the first stop I could still see the leaders so it was close, but we decided to go for a three stop and we were stopping early, and both times I came out in traffic and wondered why.

“The tyres were still in good condition and I think they were trying to jump the cars in front but we went straight back into traffic and that was it. Normally you pit and come out into clean air.

“Then we did that again later on in the race, so not a great race. Hopefully we will learn from this because it happened twice – I don’t think we looked too good on strategy today.”

Senna delivered a strong drive to seventh

Bruno Senna put in one of his best drives of the season as he brought his Williams home in seventh place. He has been out-performed more often than not by his team-mate Pastor Maldonado and gave himself a boost heading into the sport’s five-week break which he hopes will kick-start his season:

Today was a nice race,” said Senna. “We pushed very hard on the strategy to make it work especially as the track conditions and the weather were very different from what we were expecting, so I’m happy with the team and I hope we can carry this momentum on.

“There were a lot of battles for me and it was hard to keep the tyres alive because the temperatures were so high, but it’s good to start in ninth place and finish in seventh. I think this is a turning point for us.

“The race was good, it was a fun weekend, the team are happy and the break is now welcome as it will be a chance to rest before we continue to push in the second part of the season.”

Maldonado has been making a habit of incidents this year

Another penalty was handed out to a bemused Pastor Maldonado as the Williams driver continued his theme of getting in trouble with the race stewards following his collision with the Force India of Paul Di Resta, nudging the Scottish driver off the track. After a race in which he had to serve a drive-through penalty for the incident, the Venezuelan was not pleased:

“I have no idea why I got the penalty this time. It was a good overtaking manoeuvre.”

“There was a small contact, but this is racing. I saw [Kimi] Raikkonen and [Romain] Grosjean [battling] and it was more or less the same.”

“The contact was so small,” he said. “He decided to run wide because there was a lot of space off the track. There was nothing big from my point of view. It was a good move.”

Schumacher has now had six race retirements this season – the most on the grid

The start of the race was delayed as Michael Schumacher failed to line up at his grid slot properly. The starting lights turned yellow indicating a delay instead of their usual red, and Schumacher turned his engine off in order to keep temperatures down. His failure to get away from the grid resulted in him being the lone starter from the pit-lane, and a puncture and drive-through penalty completed a long afternoon for the German which ended in retirement:

We had the yellow lights and pretty high engine temperatures, and I decided to switch off the engine as we were waiting so long,” he admitted.

“We had a puncture – I don’t know how and what happened. There was obviously no contact, I was alone and by myself,” said Schumacher.

“Then we even had a drive-through because maybe the pitlane limiter or something didn’t work properly during the puncture phase.

“That was the race decided. It was just trying to hang out and see if maybe something unusual would happen that we could take benefit from.

“In the end, because we’d had these engine temperatures and we had some telemetry issues, we decided to stop the car.”

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time
 1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           1h41:05.503
 2.  Raikkonen     Lotus-Renault              +     1.032
 3.  Grosjean      Lotus-Renault              +    10.518
 4.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           +    11.614
 5.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +    26.653
 6.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +    30.243
 7.  Senna         Williams-Renault           +    33.899
 8.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +    34.458
 9.  Massa         Ferrari                    +    38.350
10.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +    51.234
11.  Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes       +    57.283
12.  Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes       +  1:02.887
13.  Maldonado     Williams-Renault           +  1:03.606
14.  Perez         Sauber-Ferrari             +  1:04.494
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

Not classified/retirements:

Driver        Team                         Lap
Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth                 63
Schumacher    Mercedes                     61

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