Hamilton drove a superbly
controlled race to edge out Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean for victory at the
Hungarian Grand Prix, breathing new life into a title challenge
that had previously looked to be in dire trouble.
The morning's support races were run amidst sporadic
downpours, but as the main event approached the dark clouds parted
and sunshine beamed down on the circuit once more. The track was
fully dry as Lewis Hamilton led the field on to the installation
lap - but the start was aborted when seventeenth placed Michael
Schumacher lined up out of position on the grid. The drivers were
swiftly dispatched to complete a second formation lap.
A few minutes later, the shortened race got underway as planned.
Hamilton made an excellent getaway to retain the lead into the
first corner, whilst Grosjean and Button squeezed out a
fast-starting Vettel to ensure their places in the top three. The
status quo was maintained as the frontrunners reeled off the laps,
with the evenly matched leading pair steadily pulling away from the
rest of the pack as the first stops approached.
On lap sixteen Button successfully deployed the undercut to remain
ahead of Vettel - and three laps later, team-mate Hamilton used a
similar tactic to maintain his lead. Both he and Grosjean suffered
frustratingly prolonged pit stops, effectively cancelling each
other out as they emerged on the medium and soft tyre respectively.
Raikkonen and Webber briefly assumed the lead before diving into
the pits, allowing a determined Alonso to jump the latter.
The second stint saw Grosjean use his grip advantage to apply real
pressure to Hamilton, eventually culminating in the leader (and
struggling team-mate Button) being told to switch to "plan b" by
the McLaren pitwall. The latter dived in on lap thirty-six, but
disastrously emerged behind Bruno Senna in eighth place. Hamilton
followed suit five laps later, keeping Grosjean at bay as he again
opted to fit the medium compound for the final twenty-eight
Having assumed a temporary lead once more, the wily Raikkonen began
extracting the best from rubber. His efforts saw him gain
considerably in the pit window, emerging from his own stop
wheel-to-wheel with team-mate Grosjean - and after a brief tussle,
the Finn assumed second place and set off in pursuit of Hamilton.
Elsewhere, both Vettel and Alonso had surged past the delayed
Button and assumed fourth and fifth places.
The closing stages saw Hamilton soak up more and more pressure from
Raikkonen, who was reaping up the benefits of stopping five laps
later. For some twenty laps they circulated in close proximity, but
the Finn was unable to find a way past on a track on which it is is
notoriously difficult to overtake. As a result, Hamilton swept home
to claim his second win of the season and third career triumph at
the Hungaroring - an promising note on which to go into the summer