Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix today, heading home Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull’s Mark Webber.
Although many predicted a strong start for Hamilton after qualifying fourth, few would have guessed that he would drive away from the field in the race, his car handling both the soft and supersoft tyres very consistently.
He made a move on Webber into turn one for second place at the start, but ran wide and Webber repassed him. Hamilton came back at him however and grabbed second place again. At the front pole sitter Fernando Alonso led in the Renault, but his challenge ended on lap 13 when his front wheel came off following a pit stop.
Raikkonen had an eventful start, which the stewards are looking at now, making some sharp moves into turn 1 and colliding with Sebastian Vettel in turn 2. The damage to Vettel’s suspension ultimately caused it to fail and Vettel retired before half distance. Raikkonen claimed to have no idea that he and Vettel had made contact and the team did not tell him about the investigation.
Webber struggled for pace on the soft tyre in the middle stint of the race and seemed to settle for third place, knowing that he would move into second place in the championship ahead of Vettel. He said that he would not be asking the team to back his championship challenge following this result, “It’s too soon for that,” he said, rather unconvincingly.
Points leader Jenson Button finished a disconsolate 7th after another difficult day where the Brawn could not get the tyres working properly. Button has had three bad results in a row and this one is hard to swallow because it was on a track where the team should have shone, with a major upgrade to the car and with the hot temperatures which suited their car at the start of the season. Yet the car had no pace today.
Hamilton’s win was a reward for an amazing amount of work by the McLaren team. They have been bringing parts out all weekend, some designed as recently as last week and they have a win to show for it. They should go quite well in Valencia, but on the high speed aero tracks like Spa, they will still struggle to match the Red Bull car.
Ferrari meanwhile have endured a tough weekend with the accident to Felipe Massa. Team principal Stefano Domenicali was at the hospital all morning, only coming to the track just before the start of the race.
Raikkonen couldn’t get close enough to Hamilton to strike, but it was noticeable that he was able to match his pace for much of the race. Hamilton’s advantage was largely built in the opening laps.
Formula 1 now takes a summer break and the teams are forced to close their factories for two weeks during this time, so development will be limited before the next race in Valencia.