Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes held on in the scorching heat at the Hungaroring to allow the Briton to score his first win for the German team in yesterday’s Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen who had to hold off a late-race charge from Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
Hamilton’s win, his fourth around the circuit on the outskirts of Budapest, moves him to within 48 points of Vettel who continues to head the standings. Raikkonen moves up into second ahead of Fernando Alonso and closes the gap to Vettel to 38 points.
Hamilton had claimed his third straight pole on Saturday but with track temperatures in their fifties predicted for the race, the 2008 world champion’s comments and body language after qualifying indicated that he had resigned himself to another tough slog in the midfield, fully expecting his Mercedes to eat through its tyres.
However, the Briton had a trouble-free race right from when the lights went out and there was no sign of the tyre problems that have sent Hamilton and his teammate Nico Rosberg tumbling down the field on several other occasions when the Silver Arrows have started at the front.
Hamilton’s win in Hungary is Mercedes’ third win in five races and, with the team appearing to have turned the corner on their tyre wear issues, the Brackley-based squad could be set to mount a serious title tilt in the second half of the season. “I really wasn’t expecting it. Our long runs didn’t look that great in practice two,” Hamilton said after the race.
“But I got the balance just spot on today and if we can be quick here with these track temperatures then I’m fairly hopeful that we’ll be competitive everywhere else. So this could be a good turning point for us,” he added. Hamilton wasn’t the only one surprised by the strong race pace Mercedes displayed with Vettel and Grosjean expected to fight it out for the win.
However, hopes that Grosjean could score his first career victory were dashed when the Frenchman was hit with a drive-through penalty for passing Ferrari’s Felipe Massa with all four wheels off the track. The Lotus driver was given a further penalty after the race with 20 seconds being added to his overall race time for another incident involving Jenson Button in which the two cars banged wheels as Grosjean tried to find a way past the McLaren.
Vettel also had a frustrating race with the German, who has never won in Hungary, spending several laps after his pitstops stuck behind Button losing time to Hamilton all along, while damage to his front wing only added to his woes. The reigning world champion gave vent to his frustration towards the end of race complaining to his team over the radio about Raikkonen not leaving him enough room.
Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber finished fourth ahead of Ferrari’s Alonso, who is also under investigation by the stewards for having thrice used his drag reduction system when he was more than a second away from the car ahead. Grosjean finished sixth ahead of Button, Massa and Sergio Perez while Pastor Maldonado brought home Williams’ first point of the season in tenth.
Both Sahara Force India cars, driven by Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil, retired from the Hungarian GP yesterday. Sutil, racing in his 100th GP, stopped after 19 laps with a hydraulic leak while Paul Di Resta stopped only a couple of laps from the finish.