Hamilton back in the race after Olympic win at Hungaroring
By Berthold Bouman
Again a very hot day at the Hungaroring, with an ambient temperature around 30 degrees Celsius and a track temperature of 45 degrees, when 24 cars lined up for the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix, the last race before the summer break.
Much to the surprise of everyone, FIA’s Charlie Whiting aborted the start procedure after Michael Schumacher signalled he had a problem, and now 23 drivers made a second warm-up lap, while Schumacher was preparing to start from the pit lane. Surprisingly, Schumacher said he switched off the engine because he saw yellow flags waving around him.
The first corner is always a bit tricky at the tight and twisty Hungaroring, but all drivers made it through without damage, Lewis Hamilton was away clean while Sebastian Vettel tried to take second place from Romain Grosjean, but the Frenchman successfully defended his position, and seconds later Jenson Button found a way past Vettel, who was then fourth.
Behind Vettel were Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus, next was Mark Webber who already had made up four places and was in seventh spot at the time. Needless to say, poor Schumacher was 24th, but even worse, he had been speeding in the pit lane and was handed a drive-through penalty.
Meanwhile Hamilton was getting away from the rest of the pack and after eight laps already had created a gap of 2.1 seconds to Grosjean, while at the same time Button was checking his rear-view mirrors to see how far Vettel was behind him. Vettel tried to reel in Button as he was able to use DRS on the main straight, but Button simply defended his third place by using his KERS.
Vettel tried again the next lap, but the main straight at the Hungaroring is simply not long enough for a successful DRS assisted overtaking manoeuvre. Button decided to pit and rejoined the race in tenth place on the medium tyres, right behind Nico Rosberg in the Mercedes.
Next to pit was Vettel, it was not a very smooth stop and he rejoined in seventh place. Also Hamilton pitted, again not a flawless stop and he rejoined in fourth on a set of medium Pirellis. Alonso had also pitted and had also opted to continue on the medium tyres, next to pit was Grosjean who stayed on the soft tyres and obviously wanted to do his second and last stint on a set of mediums.
Both Raikkonen and Webber pitted and the order after 21 laps was: Hamilton, Grosjean, Button, Vettel, Raikkonen, Alonso, Webber, and Senna was eighth in the Williams after he had passed Sergio Perez in the Sauber. Felipe Massa and Rosberg were ninth and tenth.
Grosjean was faster on his softs than Hamilton who was on the medium tyres, and the Lotus came closer and closer and ultimately was less than one second behind the McLaren, enough to deploy DRS. Vettel, meanwhile, came closer to Button ahead of him and was also looking to use DRS again to overtake the McLaren.
But now Button was closing in on Grosjean, not because the Briton was that much faster, but because Grosjean’s soft tyres were already starting to degrade, and not surprisingly he also lost time to Hamilton ahead of him.
On lap 35 Button decided to pit and after a flawless stop he continued on the medium tyres in eighth position. Further down the order Massa and Rosberg were dicing for ninth place, and Maldonado and Paul di Resta in the Force India were dicing for 12th place.
Vettel was next to stop for tyres, he rejoined the race in fourth place on his new medium Pirellis, ahead of Senna and Button. Grosjean also pitted and also changed to the medium tyres for his last stint, one lap later Hamilton pitted and he too changed to the medium tyre compound.
Last to pit was Raikkonen, who had built up a 14-second gap, he emerged from the pit lane right next to Grosjean, who had to back off to avoid a collision. After Raikkonen’s stop the order was: Hamilton, Raikkonen Grosjean, Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Button and Senna. The whole top eight had made their last stop, and now the question was of course who would have the most rubber left to attack the others for a podium place.
Maldonado and di Resta were still dicing for 12th place, but Maldonado pushed the Scott off the track and the incident was under investigation by the FIA Stewards. Two laps later the Venezuelan driver was handed a drive-through penalty which of course completely ruined his race.
With just 15 laps to go, Vettel was seen running wide several times which meant his tyres were going off, and he had to be careful not to further ruin his tyres. More drivers experienced problems, Grosjean had to short-cut one of the chicanes as he too was suffering from tyre degradation.
His team colleague Raikkonen was getting closer to leader Hamilton, and the Finn was obviously planning an attack on the Briton. Webber also had problems with his tyres and had to pit for a third time, and rejoined in eighth place with 12 laps still to go.
The battle between Hamilton and Raikkonen soon began, but it was the same game, the main straight on the Hungaroring is too short for a DRS overtaking move, and Raikkonen stayed behind Hamilton as he was not able to find a way past.
Also Vettel unexpectedly had to pit for a third time and rejoined the race in fourth place, ahead of Alonso in the Ferrari.
Schumacher who had been in 18th place, came back to the pits and retired, but without a doubt it was a strategic retirement, which means he can change a gearbox for the next event without being handed a penalty, Hamilton did the same in Germany.
Six laps to go and now Raikkonen in second place also ran wide, and he had to back off a bit. Vettel on his new soft tyres now started to reel in Grosjean, while Webber on his new tyres came closer and closer to Senna ahead of him.
Just two laps to go but Raikkonen couldn’t make a final move on Hamilton and thus the 2008 World Champion won the Hungarian Grand Prix, he was followed by Raikkonen who took second place, Grosjean was third, Vettel fourth, Alonso fifth and Button took sixth place.
Senna, Webber, Massa, and Rosberg took seventh to tenth position respectively, while Narain Karthikeyan was the second driver to retire after he lost control of his HRT with just nine laps to go and hit the guard rail hard.
Formula One goes on a well-deserved vacation for a whole month, next race is the Belgium Grand Prix at the beautiful Spa-Franchorchamps circuit on September 2.