Peter Anderson | Jul 30, 2012

Lewis Hamilton took a big win at this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix, leaping off pole and joining the exclusive 'two wins in 2012' club in the process.

The McLaren team performed faultlessly all weekend and carefully crafted a race-winning strategy, despite a concerted effort from the Lotus team to spoil the party.

Mark Webber had another difficult race, thanks to differential troubles robbing him of pace, and a strategy that relied on the misfortune of others.

 

Race

The grid feared a forecast storm, but the skies remained clear for the duration. Mark Webber went to the grid on the medium tyre, while most of the grid started on softs.

The grid formed up for the start, but it was aborted due to a stationary Mercedes, that of Michael Schumacher. The Mercedes was rolled into pitlane and the German was able to start from the pits.

The drivers re-formed the grid and this time the race was go as the five red lights went out.

Lewis Hamilton got a great start, as did Vettel who lunged at Grosjean into turn one, who refused to yield and wrong-footed the Red Bull driver. Button got alongside the German then got the inside line at turn 3 and pushed Vettel back to fourth.

Mark Webber rocketed into seventh by turn two, a fantastic start while Felipe Massa went backwards, as did Pastor Maldonado.

Schumacher pitted at the end of the first lap to switch to mediums but then got a drive-through for a pitlane speeding infringement.

Raikkonen was having his own problems, radioing his team to say his KERS wasn't working properly.

Alonso was holding the pack up in fifth, a train forming behind him from sixth to 13th. Hamilton and Grosjean were swapping fastest times up the front, extending the gap back to Button who was holding steady in third.

Webber's gamble on the medium tyre was looking canny - while Alonso was nursing his soft tyres, the Australian was on the hardier tyre, building a cushion he could use later in the race if things went to plan.

Unlucky for Webber, that plan likely included either a Safety Car or rain - neither of which came.

Unusually for the 2012 season, the race settled on the twisty Hungaroring, a circuit deemed almost impossible to pass at, even by Formula 1 standards.

Button stopped on lap 14 from third, fitting the white-banded medium tyre in a lightning-quick stop. Button charged out and just made it out in front of Perez's Sauber, an important achievement given the Sauber team's reputation for going long.

Vettel was the first Red Bull to pit on the next lap, at the same time as Alonso. Vettel raced Button to the first corner on soft tyres, but the Englishman won while Alonso rejoined behind Sergio Perez.

Hamilton pitted from the lead soon after and switched to the medium tyre.

Webber had worked his way to third by this time and agreed with his team that he would stay on the primes. Raikkonen pitted with him and went to softs, coming out in front of Alonso, who had muscled by Perez but lost a lot of time.

Grosjean had gone to a set of scrubbed softs and was flying, going much faster than Hamilton who got a message from his pits to tell him to pick up the pace.

Vettel too was pressuring the other McLaren, Button doing well to stay ahead on the harder prime tyre.

Again Grosjean attacked, taking Hamilton's lead back down to under a second and putting him in the DRS zone.

Button pitted and changed to softs on lap 34, apparently switching to a three-stop strategy, his team having informed him a few laps earlier.

Button came out behind the Williams of Senna who was yet to pit again and settled in for long, fruitless battle.

Released from behind Button, Vettel started after Grosjean, setting the fastest lap of the race. Raikkonen did the same two laps later, needing to come back on to the track in front of Button, which he did on lap 38.

Hamilton pitted from the lead on lap 41 and a sub-three second stop saw him escape from the fate of being stuck behind Alonso. He had one foot on the top step of the podium and was on the medium tyre to last him to the end.

Raikkonen wasn't giving up, however. He set the fastest lap on old tyres, battling with his Lotus to get in front of the Red Bull of Vettel and, if he got a bit lucky, he could jump his teammate, too.

Raikkonen pitted on lap 45 but didn't quite jump Romain Grosjean. At the pit exit, Raikkonen nailed the KERS button and contested the first corner, the two Lotuses side by side.

They touched, but Raikkonen triumphed with the inside line, putting him on second and 4.4 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton.

Grosjean had a hungry Vettel right behind him, with Webber a distant nine seconds behind.

Pastor Maldonado shoved di Resta on to the run-off during a pass that was marginal at best. The Venezuelan understeered into the Force India, despite being given racing room. He was duly investigated by the stewards and handed a drive through penalty.

2012 hungary f1 gp 06 michael schumacher 01
Raikkonen begun to chip away at Hamilton's lead, halving the gap in two laps on fresher tyres of the same compound.

Webber's charge ended on lap 55, with a third stop. His differential problem was causing huge tyre wear, the team forced to pit him again, dumping him behind Senna's Williams in eighth place.

Vettel pitted on lap 58 for another stint on soft tyres, just staying ahead of Alonso at the pit exit. The Ferrari driver harried the Red Bull through turns two and three before falling away.

Michael Schumacher's miserable weekend finished on lap 60, the team wheeling the car into the garage.

Raikkonen launched a fresh attack on lap 61, preferring to at least try and get past the McLaren of Hamilton rather than wait for the Briton to run into tyre trouble, but it was to no avail.

Hamilton took the flag for his nineteenth win, having withstood the constant attacks from both Lotus drivers. Raikkonen took a brilliant second place, followed by teammate Grosjean and Sebastien Vettel.

Fernando Alonso came home fifth and went into the August break with an extended lead over Mark Webber, who finished eighth.

"We were hoping people would be in a bit more trouble with their tyres at the end...Still, we moved up three places from the start, we have good points and it's very open for the rest of the year," a philosophical Webber said post-race.

Daniel Ricciardo's quiet afternoon finished with a 15th place, one ahead of Toro Rosso teammate Vergne.

Formula 1 goes into its annual August hibernation and returns at the fabled Spa Francorchamps circuit for the Belgian Grand Prix on September 2.

 

Results

1. Lewis Hamilton - Britain - McLaren-Mercedes 1hr 41m 05.503s
2. Kimi Raikkonen - Finland - Lotus-Renault - +0m 01.0s
3. Romain Grosjean - France - Lotus-Renault - +0m 10.5s

4. Sebastian Vettel - Germany Red Bull-Renault +0m 11.6s
5. Fernando Alonso - Spain - Ferrari-Ferrari - +0m 26.6s
6. Jenson Button - Britain - McLaren-Mercedes +0m 30.2s
7. Bruno Senna - Brazil - Williams-Renault +0m 33.8s
8. Mark Webber - Australia - Red Bull-Renault +0m 34.4s
9. Felipe Massa - Brazil - Ferrari-Ferrari - +0m 38.3s
10. Nico Rosberg - Germany - Mercedes-Mercedes +0m 51.2s

11. Nico Hulkenberg - Germany - Force India-Mercedes +0m 57.2s
12. Paul di Resta - Britain - Force India-Mercedes +1m 02.8s
13. Pastor Maldonado - Venezuela - Williams-Renault +1m 03.6s
14. Sergio Perez - Mexico - Sauber-Ferrari - +1m 04.4s
15. Daniel Ricciardo - Australia - Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
16. Jean-Eric Vergne - France - Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
17. Heikki Kovalainen - Finland - Caterham-Renault +1 lap
18. Kamui Kobayashi - Japan - Sauber-Ferrari - +2 laps
19. Vitaly Petrov - Russia - Caterham-Renault +2 laps
20. Charles Pic - France - Marussia -Cosworth +2 laps
21. Timo Glock - Germany - Marussia -Cosworth +3 laps
22. Pedro de la Rosa - Spain - HRT-Cosworth - +3 laps

Rtd Narain Karthikeyan - India - HRT-Cosworth - 61 laps completed
Rtd Michael Schumacher Germany - Mercedes-Mercedes 58 laps completed

Fastest lap: Sebastian Vettel - 1m 24.136s - lap 68