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Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Jul 2011   |  2:56 pm GMT  |  161 comments

On his 200th Grand Prix start and the 5th anniversary of his maiden victory in Hungary, Jenson Button drove a perfectly judged race to take his 11th victory and his second of the season.

And it takes him to fourth place in the all time points scorers list behind Schumacher, Alonso and Prost.

As in the most recent victory in Canada, it was Sebastian Vettel who followed him home. Once again it was a great outcome for his championship challenge as he extended his lead to 85 points, the largest margin at any point this season.

Fernando Alonso finished third despite a series of mistakes by himself and strategy mistakes by the team. He was only 10 seconds behind at the end.

“It’s good to have a couple of weeks break because it could take me that long to get over tonight. My 200th race, I don’t know why I like these conditions so much.. a great call by the team not to go to the inter. We go into the break on a nice high,” said Button.

It was a tricky race – there were a record 88 pit stops and a day for not making mistakes. Button once again showed his cool head to rise above it. He also had an amazing wheel to wheel battle with his team mate Lewis Hamilton.

The race started in unexpectedly drizzly conditions, which made the track slippery and further brief rain shower later in the race, which caused some strategy mistakes. As all the running up to race day had been dry, the first few laps were all about the drivers finding the grip level and braking points on a damp track with intermediate tyres.

At the start Vettel got away well from pole as Button attacked Hamilton for second place. THe two Mercedes cars made great starts with Rosberg up to fourth and Schumacher following him.

Massa was tentative into Turn 1 and Alonso got bogged down behind him, as the Mercedes cars sailed past.

Alonso passed Schumacher on the second lap, and then Rosberg as the leaders were slithering around on a surface that looked as grippy as ice, particularly in Turn 2 where Vettel, Alonso and Massa all had moments.

Hamilton put huge pressure on Vettel on lap 4 and at that point the FIA said that the DRS wing was enabled.

Alonso made a mistake allowing Rosberg back past him. Another mistake allowed Massa to pass. Alonso repassed him soon after.

With the lap times over 20 seconds slower than in qualifying, the McLaren was clearly faster than the Red Bull in the treacherous conditions. On lap 6 Hamilton forced Vettel to run wide and he swept past into the lead. he immediately began pulling away at three seconds a lap.

Webber and Massa were the first drivers to come in lap 11 for slick tyres. The number two drivers effectively for both teams, were used to gain information on the dry tyres for their more competitive team mates.

Meanwhile Alonso pumped in fastest laps to that point and got the gap down to Hamilton and Vettel to 10 seconds by the time they all stopped on lap 13.

Schumacher stayed out and this put him into the lead for the first time since he made his comeback. He pitted straight after.

Button had a great pitstop and a very fast out lap and this set him up for an attack on Vettel on lap 14, which he converted into a pass.

Webber passed Alonso at the same time, as the Ferrari struggled on the dry tyre on a still slightly damp track, its weakness at not warming up the tyres – even the supersoft – very evident.

On Lap 26 Heidfeld’s Renault caught fire and exploded after a pit stop, there was no safety car, but Webber, Alonso and Massa pitted, with Hamilton pitting a lap later, his tyres clearly shot.

This was what Jenson Button wanted to see, his tyres were in better shape and he continued, as did Alonso, another driver whose tyres were looking good at the end of the stint.

Button pitted on lap 28 while Vettel decided to stay out, but he lost five seconds in the process, bringing him back towards Webber.

But Vettel simply drove away from his team mate, who came under pressure from Alonso on lap 34.

Kobayashi, the only front runner to take the soft tyres rather than supersofts, had made one less stop than the cars around him and was 6th at the mid race phase, but Massa went past him on lap 35 and the Japanese driver dived into the pits straight away.

Alonso, unable to pass Webber, pitted a third time on lap 37 trying the undercut on Webber. He managed it as he was hugely faster on his new tyres.

Webber reacted, Red Bull putting him onto the soft tyres, which he would take to the finish. Vettel went for the same strategy, as did Button.

Button got the tyres up to speed straight away and was faster than Hamilton who was on the supersofts.

On Lap 47 Hamilton spun and Button passed him as rain began falling again at the back of the circuit only. The McLarens stayed out, Alonso pitted for softs, having realised the mistake they’d made at their third stop.

The rain began to make life difficult for the drivers on lap 50 with lap times 6 seconds slower than the lap before. As Rosberg and Webber pitted for internediates, McLaren’s drivers passed and repassed each other, but it was Hamilton in front at the crucial moment when it was time to pit for intermediates.

He decided to go for them, which proved for a mistake.

Rather than queue behind him, Button had to do another lap, but as he did so, it became clear that he didn’t need to stop again. This was the decisive moment. The move to inters was the wrong one and it cost Hamilton and Webber dear.

Hamilton also got a drive through penalty for almost hitting Di Resta after a spin and he came out behind Massa and Webber in 6th place.

On lap 58 Webber passed Massa for 5th, and Hamilton attacked and passed too on the same lap to move up to 5th.

He passed Webber for 4th on lap 63 as the pair negotiated traffic. Kobayashi got in their way on very worn tyres and Webber lost out. Kobayashi pitted at the end of that lap.

There were strong performances from Di Resta in seventh place, Buemi 8th and Alguersuari 10th again for Toro Rosso. Daniel Ricciardo had a strong day in the HRT beating Liuzzi and D’Ambrosio. Both Lotus cars retired again.

HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX, Hungaroring, 70 Laps
1. Button McLaren 1h43:42.337
2. Vettel Red Bull + 3.588
3. Alonso Ferrari + 19.819
4. Hamilton McLaren + 48.338
5. Webber Red Bull + 49.742
6. Massa Ferrari + 1:17.176
7. Di Resta Force India + 1 lap
8. Buemi Toro Rosso + 1 lap
9. Rosberg Mercedes + 1 lap
10. Alguersuari Toro Rosso + 1 lap
11. Kobayashi Sauber + 1 lap
12. Petrov Renault + 1 lap
13. Barrichello Williams + 2 laps
14. Sutil Force India + 2 laps
15. Perez Sauber + 2 laps
16. Maldonado Williams + 2 laps
17. Glock Virgin + 4 laps
18. Ricciardo HRT + 4 laps
19. D’Ambrosio Virgin + 5 laps
20. Liuzzi HRT + 5 laps

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1

Alonso finished 19 seconds behind Button, not 10 as James stated.

2

James,

IMO, you don’t highlight enough the importance of Hamiltons strategy going wrong when he was pitted for super-softs a third time, when at that point, it was already clear (although Brundle and Coulthard didn’t get it at this point) that some would attempt to go prime-tyre and take them to the end.

This ment, that Hamilton would definately need to pit again, where as all those on the prime tyre would probably not. At this point, Hamilton still had a ‘healthy’ 7 seconds lead over Button who was on the prime-tyre.

The rain potentially could have saved Lewis’s race had the rain been strong enough to force all front runners to pit another time. The spun didn’t help, but it wasn’t what cost him the race. The extra pit to inters was a risky gamble that could have payed off if all others had pitted for inters as well. It didn’t – and as a result he lost 40 seconds in total for the pit to inters and back to the prime tyre. The drive-through only cost him another 15 seconds, putting him 55 seconds behind Button at that stage.

To sum it up – Lewis’s had already lost 1st place to Button when he went onto supersofts instead of softs.

I’m amazed no one really picked this up on the BBC broadcast and decided to focus on the stop on inters and his drive-through instead. One has to ask, with a team as big as McLaren – what made them pit Lewis for super-softs instead of softs at that stage? At that stage, the only reason to do that was to cover Alonso who was on super-softs and he was how many seconds off the lead?

3

Renault states the fire was not a big issue: just some external carbon fibre body work burning after the enigine overheated. But surely that does not account for the explosion we saw? Must have been a more serious issue.

4

Dear all,

I think the exciting thing is that Button is showing signs of improved quali pace. His consistency of lap time would be lethal from pole.

Rather than arguing over who is number 2 driver we should all be proud to have a team with 2 Brits who’s blending of contrasting skills make them a force to be reckoned with.

We should thank them both for bringing a challenge to the front door of Red Bull and bringing the season alive again.

At least these TWO world champions are giving us a season to remember in this great sport before SKY takes this all away and locks it in a vending machine.

Thanks Jens and Lewis…miss u next year.

(Just to add…I am NOT a Lewis fan. Go Jens!)

5

I watched the race live and i think that Alonso made too many mistakes. First of all, it could have been better on Saturday where he had a chance to be on the front row. In the race, he made too many mistakes and definitely could have finished second….

I think that Ferrari is really struggling in cold and wet conditions and as soon as we are going to move to higher temperatus, it is going to change and they might be the var to beat.

By the way, I think it is now very clear and official…Red Bull is not the fastest car anynore…sadly Vettel has ot way too many points, otherwise we could have experience a supee climax of the season.

6

The real reason why Lewis lost this race was because of his McLaren team putting him at a disadvantage yet again. There are about 30 laps to go and most of the leading drivers are pitting. Lewis is 7 seconds in the lead on supersofts. So what do u do? Bring him in 1st or wait to see what everyone else does and cover them off?

Well clearly McLaren thought it a good idea to bring him in first, put him on worn supersofts and then the very next lap put Jenson on softs (meanwhile I think Alonso and Weber put on softs). So Lewis go’s round once and his radio comes on.. Lewis this is the situation, [u basically have to find 19 seconds now for a pitstop because everyone else is going to the end and there is no way used supersofts will do 30 laps].

So Lewis was driving the wheels off his car to make up the time – it started raining and he made a mistake and spun. From that point the win was defintely out of reach so he made a gamble on the weather and went for inters – obviously had the penalty as well.

In my view people are missing the real reason why he lost – it wasn’t his spin or the inters – or the penalty because of his spin. It was the very decision to put him on worn supersofts when everyone else was going onto the softs to drive to the end of the race.

Why have the so called expert pundits missed this?

I obviously watched the race and as soon as Lewis pittied for the supersofts and he had 30/31 laps left I knew the team had made yet another poor poor decision and given Lewis’s win away and the 1-2 for McLaren which frankly they deserved.

What a shame.

7

A bit of drizzle was what he’s looked forward to at Hungary. And Jenson got his wish and his win, fair and square. Hamilton fans must be fuming.

Good lord, Vettel needs only another 4 to 5 points! and he’ll be the world’s youngest back to back double world champion in F1 history.

Can he start from position 24 at Spa, LOL!

I’ll be taking the last 8 races as another championship between Alonso, Webber, Hamilton and Button to keep the spirit up.

8

ooops, wrong calculations, sorry.

9

Off track.

Nick Heidfield must be starting to wonder if he is driving for Colin Chapman.

10
Mark in Australia

A great drive JB. Well done!!!

Surely a disappointing day for the the rest, particularly Mercedes GP in particular with both cars well placed early in the super slippery conditions. How fantastic was it to see all the drivers on the absolute limit. Vision that took me back to watching the Grand Prix of old with cars sliding a fighting for grip in all aspects, braking, cornering and on the power.

A shout out to Daniel Ricciardo too. Great drive to be right amongst the fighters in the “best if rest” battle, eventually comfortably heading home Liuzzi. Watch out Jaime and Seb B in the Torro Rossos… This young Aussie is fighting hard for your seats in 2012!!!

11

People seems to forget Lewis wasn’t going to win the race regardless of the brief shower and the penalty. Hamilton had to make another pitstop for tyres, Button didn’t need to make another stop.

12

@ James Allen,

We know Mark is in talks with Red Bull about his contract for 2012, but this time round he seems more relaxed and he it seems he is taking his time to sign it.

Do you know if he is quietly working on any other possible links ….. Scuderia ???

Cheers.

13

I think he’ll stay put at RBR

14

Does anyone else think that this was a really poor showing from Alonso this weekend? The end result was pretty good but just the amount of mistakes cost him dearly.

15

A great win to Jenson! Well done.

I still do nay understand why the SC wasn’t deployed following the Renault fire. There were people on and near the (damp) track and pitlane exit. There was even a tow-truck in the pitlane ‘off-ramp’. Strange decision me thinks.

Vettel really believed he was in the hunt for a win somehow (post-race interviews). I personally couldn’t see it. He really doesn’t like coming 2nd does he.

All in all, very enjoyable and a fair result all round.

16

I cant belive some are questioning Jenson again after this win!

If it hadn’t rained Hamilton would have needed to stop again as he was on the super-softs that would not have lasted Jenson was on the prime and didnt need to stop again so Jenson would have won anyway, the rain did not help Button at all.

17

As I have said before, I find it strange that people just can’t see Jenson’s quality and insist that he is just lucky. Lewis may be faster over a single lap, but not by all that much and Jenson is great in the races.

It is odd to me that many F1 fans idolise Senna for his wet weather wins and deride Button for his. I’m not suggesting that he has Senna’s talent, but equally you have to rate anyone who has won 11 races, a WDC and is the 4th highest points scorer of all time.

He has won in the wet, the dry and in changeable conditions. He was won from the front and dominated and he has won coming through the field. He has won races where he has had to overtake and he has punished others for their mistakes.

For anyone who thinks that his dry wins were purely based on the dominance of the BGP01 I urge you to consider Monza 2010. He came very close to winning against the Ferraris, and might have done but for the damage to the rear of his car after Alonso shunted him at turn 1.

18

James,

Off topic, but everytime I’ve been onto your site over the last couple of days my anti-virus software pops up telling me it’s blocked an attack from this site. Are you aware of any problems?

I don’t think it’s just me – seen a couple of forum posters on other sites saying they have the same issue.

Cheers, Natalie

19

It may well be one of the scripts, there are five running on this page. If you use Firefox then install NoScript and it will let you enable scripts on each page individually.

20

We’ve had some issues with that but our tech staff say they should be resolved now. Thanks

21

From McLaren Pitwall (http://www.mclaren.com/formula1?expand=1):

Pit » BUT: “It’s your call on tyres, Jenson.”

Button: “I’m staying out.”

Brilliant stuff!

22

And that explains everything.

23

If you follow the radio conversation, you´ll notice, that Jenson was guiding the team in the tyre decision, as Lewis was asking for team guidance.

24

And how was Hamilton asking for guidance when his radio wasn’t working?

25

Well done mclaren for letting your drivers race wheel to wheel! ferrari should be ashamed of themselves, its so obvious Massa has been told to let alonso through no matter what! it was disgusting to watch that fixed move! if alonso was so good he wouldnt need massa’s help!

26

Listening to Martin Brundle’s propaganda speech again. Alonso overtook him in the DRS zone, and pulled out 1.7 seconds on the same lap, 2.4 seconds on the next lap.

Brundle should be ashamed of himself, making up lies whenever Alonso passes Massa.

Alonso passed Hamilton easier, on the outside without using DRS, compared to Massa.

27

I sense Brundle dislike Alonso despite his praises for him being the best overall driver.

Another unfair speech from Brundle, shucks.

29

Strong showing from Riccardo and both Toro Rosso boys.

Red Bull are going to have a bit of a headache deciding who gets the seat next year.

30

It was a great way to cap his 200th race with a win for Button…it was a great drive by Lewis, to me he was the best racing driver of the day! I’m sure luck wud better serve in later races…great racing btw the McLaren teammates!

James do u think that McLaren are getting the act together and have the best overall car in the field now?

Bring on SPA!

31

Great race, wish I could have watched it!

Congrats to Jenson!!!

What are the thoughts on the blown up Renault of Heidfeld???

32

No matter what anybody said, McLaren put Button on the better strategy than Lewis and I have no idea why, maybe because it was his 200th GP and they wanted him to win, I don’t know. Hamilton had been superb, especially at the start, he was unlucky to spin as he had no idea it would be wet, due to the sudden downpour. Jenson profited due to everyone elses loss. He is good in them conditions but he isn’t superb like everyone claims. In Hungary ’06 he won due to Alonso retiring. In Australia ’10 he won due to Vettel retiring. In China ’10 it was once again strategy (not skill) that won him the race. In Canada ’11 he won due to his dry pace. Hamilton is the best in the wet as he proved in the opening laps.

Oh well, a win is a win.

33

McLaren didn’t put the better strategy for Button, it was Button who manage their tyre better than Lewis

each set of Super Soft , JB can run longer than Lewis, so at 3rd pit JB can use soft to the end while Lewis can’t. That why Lewis need at least one more pit.

34

Incorrect – in 06 button was infront of alonso when fernando span out.

35

No, what Thomas says its absolutely correct, Fernando had like 35 seconds advantatge when he lost that famous nut.

36

Fernando had like 35 seconds advatatge over jenson when he lost the famous nut.

37

Commiserations to Lewis – it didn’t fall his way today, especially with 5 pits stops and a drive through. Mind you, remember the last time that happened to a McLaren driver (in Canada) he still won!

38

oh how the turn around in f1. ferrari left hoping that the faster turns of spa helps there car. unthinkable 2 months ago. mclaren now the king of the slow stuff. after the way vettel was reeling lewis in the brooklands complex at silverstone in the race it just shows how much mclaren are getting from the off throttle blowing now there quicker on a slower track.

39

Well done Jenson, I don’t think he made any mistakes today, whereas most of the others did. He deserved to win. Not really a big Button fan, nothing against him either, just don’t rate him as highly as some of the other drivers.

But have to give it to him, in these conditions he seems to make the right calls on tires, strategy and doesn’t make many mistakes. Can’t really put it down to luck given the number of wins he’s now taken in changeable conditions.

40

All the drivers gave us a great race today. Congratulations.

Has anyone actually added up how many overtakes there were — particularly by Jenson and Lewis on each other? I’m sure some records must have been broken.

I hope the others teams note the trust and respect Jenson and Lewis have for each other which means they can race each other with great sportsmanship and no fear there’ll be any intentional coming together. This is something we used to see a lot in F1 before the days when Michael Schumacher made intimidation acceptable.

I also like the way Lewis said on camera afterwards, “the best man won today”. Great stuff!

41

Completely agree.

Whoever would have won this race would have thoroughly deserved it. Great driving by most in really tricky conditions.

Well done to JB!

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