Mighty Hamilton fends off Raikkonen to win in Hungary
29 July, 2012
Jul.29 (Apex) One could say that Lewis Hamilton dominated the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, fastest in FP1 and FP2, untouchable in qualifying and victorious in the race, but in truth he was made to work hard for his second win of the season after fending off a relentless attack from Kimi Raikkonen for the last one-third of the race.
The McLaren managed a bullet start, with Hamilton leading off the line and then proceeding to control the race until the very end, despite the Lotus of Raikkonen filling his mirrors for the last 20 or so laps. But Hamilton was not perturbed as he defended his lead and in fact reeled off a couple of fast laps with the finish in sight, edging a little gap on the final tour. His message quite clear: this one is mine and I had some to spare!
Hamilton’s strategy to run The Pirelli soft tyres from the start followed by two stints on the harder tyre differed to the trio behind him who all opted softs for the first two stints and the harder tyre for the final stint, and despite Raikkonen’s tyres being five laps newer in the final stint the Lotus simply did not have the legs to catch the McLaren when it mattered.
Hamilton – who now lies fourth in the championship with 117 points, 47 points adrift of top spot – said afterwards, “An amazing day, fantastic work by all the team and the fans have been fantastic. Thank you for having us. I am looking forward to the continuation of the championship. A long way to go and a lot of work to do but we have shown we can compete. It is very, very close but we are going to give it all we can.”
It was a good performance and points haul for Lotus, but having upped their ante in qualifying the team will be wondering what to do to nab that ever so elusive first victory this season. Raikkonen would probably get the ‘man of the match award’ if there were such a thing, for a stirring drive.
The Finn started fifth and drove a strategically impeccable race, he peeled out of the pits, after his final stop side by side with team mate Romain Grosjean. The pair of gold and black cars proceeded to rub rubber as they went through Turn 1 and Turn 2, but Kimi gave it a dollop of KERS and snatched second place, he would have had it no other way. The stop saw him catapult from fourth to second, his pre-pitstop laps were of the highest order and crucial to his second place result. But boy it was close between the Lotus pair.
Raikkonen did not mince his words, “We came second, it’s not enough but we had some problems with the KERS. We had some speed and we’ll try to win the next race. At least we are up there all the time and we put ourselves in a good position but we are not happy until we win.”
As is his custom, the Frenchman was in high spirits after a very solid performance, “It was a fantastic race and we were fighting for the win but we wanted to get back onto the podium with the two cars and that’s what we did. It was a tough race but we enjoyed it and I hope next time we will get the win.”
Vettel was in the mix for most of the afternoon, but the Red Bull RB8 was not kind to its tyres, and while attempting a Lotus style soft-soft-hard strategy he gave up and stopped again on lap 59 for another set of softs. After that he was among the quickest out on track but ran out of time in his attempt to catch Grosjean. He crossed the line fourth.
What a difference a week makes, after his German GP win, birthday boy Fernando Alonso had to make do with fifth place in Hungary, the Ferrari clearly unable to fight with the leaders. Nevertheless he will go on holiday leading the championship and looking back on Hungary as a job well done, as he extended his lead over second placed Mark Webber by six points. The standings at the top Alonso 164, and Webber 124.
Unable to match Hamilton’s pace all weekend, Jenson Button nevertheless looked set for a podium at one stage in the race, but he became embroiled in a time consuming battle with Bruno Senna and for the Englishman fourth on the grid ended up sixth when the chequered flag dropped to end the race.
Although his best result was sixth place in Malaysia earlier this year, Senna had his best race in Hungary dueling with the big boys and out performing team mate Pastor Maldonado. Seventh place was a just reward for his toil.
Mark Webber was another one who looked string early on, with a top five apparently beckoning for the Red Bull driver who started from 11th on the grid. But like his team mate the RB8 simply ran out of rubber and he had to make an extra stop, which cost him dearly and eighth was as good as it got for the Aussie.
For Felipe Massa it was another reasonable performance, but again nowhere close to that of his teammate, as the Brazilian stayed out of trouble and troubled no one on his way to claiming ninth place.
The final point went to Nico Rosberg and Mercedes, the Silver Arrows free falling out of contention in the past few races with no end in sight. The victory in China will seem a long time ago as both Rosberg and Michael Schumacher struggle with the woeful W03.
Schumacher’s season went from bad to worse as he stalled (or something of the sort) on the grid, forcing an extra formation lap as the Mercedes was wheeled off the track, forcing the German to start from the pitlane. Then to add insult to injury, he was penalised with a drive through for speeding in the pitlane. Obviously the seven times world champion was never in contention and packed it up on lap 58.
Sauber, who were so strong seven days earlier in Germany, were well off the pace all weekend long with Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi finishing 14th and 18th respectively. A shame because the team’s biggest sponsor Carlos Slim – the world’s richest man and Telmex head honcho – was in attendance.
Thus the F1 world goes into forced hibernation until 31 August, when FP1 and FP2 takes place at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, but for fans the prospect of an even more intriguing second half of the season is on the cards. Although Alonso has a healthy points lead, the nature of this season deems any points lead very fragile. The championship is still very much alive, with some very determined challengers sure to make this a huge fight to the very last.
Hungarian Grand Prix – Sunday, 29 July 2012
|2||9||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||69||+1.0 secs||5||18|
|3||10||Romain Grosjean||Lotus-Renault||69||+10.5 secs||2||15|
|4||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||69||+11.6 secs||3||12|
|5||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||69||+26.6 secs||6||10|
|6||3||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||69||+30.2 secs||4||8|
|7||19||Bruno Senna||Williams-Renault||69||+33.8 secs||9||6|
|8||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||69||+34.4 secs||11||4|
|9||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||69||+38.3 secs||7||2|
|10||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||69||+51.2 secs||13||1|
|11||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||69||+57.2 secs||10|
|12||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||69||+62.8 secs||12|
|13||18||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||69||+63.6 secs||8|
|14||15||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||69||+64.4 secs||14|
|15||16||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||68||+1 Lap||18|
|16||17||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||68||+1 Lap||16|
|17||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault||68||+1 Lap||19|
|18||14||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||67||+2 Laps||15|
|19||21||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham-Renault||67||+2 Laps||20|
|20||25||Charles Pic||Marussia-Cosworth||67||+2 Laps||21|
|21||24||Timo Glock||Marussia-Cosworth||66||+3 Laps||22|
|22||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||66||+3 Laps||23|
|Ret||23||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT-Cosworth||60||+9 Laps||24|
|Ret||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||58||+11 Laps||17|
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