Button wins enthralling Hungarian Grand Prix

Jenson Button won today’s Hungarian Grand Prix, after a scintillating race with changing conditions. Sebastian Vettel was 2nd, with Fernando Alonso 3rd. Lewis Hamilton would have won, but a spin, bad strategy call, and drive-through penalty dropped him to 4th. Here is the full report:

The race began under intermediate conditions, after rain fell earlier this morning. Vettel made an exellent start to keep his lead, while the McLarens battled for 2nd. Fernando Alonso moved into 5th, while Nico Rosberg blitzed his way into 4th. Adrian Sutil spun from 8th all the way back to 20th.

Almost immediately, it became apparent that Vettel was struggling on the green track, and Lewis was all over him. A dive around the outside of Turn 2 nearly worked, but on Lap 5 a slip from Vettel allowed the McLaren to take the lead.

While Sebastian fell into the clutches of Button, Alonso sliced past Schumacher and Rosberg – then ran wide the next lap, allowing the latter Mercedes back through. Another excusrion off the track let teammate Massa through, but probable team orders meant Felipe was easily re-passed on the main straight.

A spin and tap with the barriers the next lap only served to drop Felipe to 9th place, while his teammate pushed his way past Rosberg for 4th. Red Bull were the first to test the drying track, putting Webber out on slicks – a move that was followed by Ferrari with Massa.

Jenson Button tried the super-softs out the following lap. A fastest final sector by Webber proved the track was dry enough, and Hamilton pitted from the lead on Lap 13 for the soft compound. Vettel and Alonso used the same move.

The slightly damp conditions suited Button to the bone, passing Vettel for 2nd place. Meanwhile, Webber got his way past Alonso to take 4th, having pitted from 7th.

The stewards were called to intervene on the race, with a drive-through for Maldonado for pit lane speeding, and an investigation on Kovalainen for an unsafe release. Meanwhile, Jarno Trulli was the first car to retire, after his Lotus suffered an oil leak.

Both Ferraris were on the move, with Alonso harrassing Webber for 4th, and Massa pushing Schumacher for 8th. However, the racing was disrupted by a retirement by Nick Heidfeld, whose Renault’s exhaust blew, forcing him to stop at pit exit.

Both Ferraris, followed by Lewis Hamilton, stopped in anticipation of a safety car, as well as taking on a fresh set of tyres. Button led the race for a sole lap, before following his teammate into the pits. This left Vettel in charge of the race – but he was 3 seconds off the pace. While the Red Bull pitted, Michael Schumacher spun at the same point Massa did, but the Mercedes was out of the race.

A mistake under acceleration allowed Massa to sweep straight past Nico Rosberg to take 7th position, then passing Kamui Kobayashi a few laps later. A drive-through penalty was issued to Sergio Perez, for overtaking while under yellow flags for Heidfeld’s incident.

After failing to pass Webber due to the difficult track, Alonso pitted early on Lap 36. Webber decided he’d had enough of the softs, and made the strange call to switch to the prime tyre on Lap 40. While Fernando was now in front of the Red Bull, Webber would not need to stop again – but his pace would be another matter.

Lewis pitted from the lead, taking on the super-soft compound. Vettel made the same move 2 laps later, but Jenson Button decided to stay out for one more lap. However, Button copied Webber’s strategy, taking on soft tyres, and completely mixing up the strategy for the frontrunners.

Jenson exited the pits ahead of Alonso and Vettel, the latter being caught out by Fernando’s early stop. However, Sebastian found a way past the Ferrari soon after the stops.

While most people were predicting two different strategies to decide the race, the weather had other ideas. With absolutely no warning, rain began to fall down upon the circuit, and Hamilton spun out of the lead. He was facing back-to-front, and while turning his car around, he nearly slammed into Paul di Resta.

Button now led, while Alonso pitted for primes. The top three – Button, Hamilton and Vettel – were now separated by 3 seconds. Lewis found extra grip on the damp track, and a slip by Button meant his teammate was back into the lead.

But, Jenson was having none of it. A DRS-assisted move pushed him back into the lead of the race, before the same mistake allowed Hamilton to retake the lead. On Lap 53, Rosberg and Hamilton deicded to take on intermediate tyres. Jerome D’Ambrosio made the same call, but a spectacular – but extremely dangerous – spin in the pit lane threw him to the back of the field.

The inters weren’t working in the damp conditions, and as the track began to dry out, the race turned on its head for Hamilton. He was served with a drive-through for his dangerous rejoining of the track.

Lewis opted to stop first, then serve his drive-through on Lap 58, dropping him to 6th position. Both Webber and Hamilton eased their way past Massa, before he stopped for another set of tyres.

A huge train of cars soon began to form behind Kamui Kobayashi, as the Sauber’s tyres began to desintigrate. Di Resta, Buemi, Rosberg and Alguersuari all passed Kamui in quick succession. Webber and Hamilton ran into the back of this pack, Mark lost pace, and Lewis sweeped around the Red Bull to take 4th place.

While Alonso began to catch Vettel, there weren’t enough laps left to make a move. With a comfortable lead, Jenson Button crossed the line to win the Hungarian Grand Prix. Vettel and Alonso took their podium positions, while Hamilton will be disgusted to be 55 seconds behind his teammate, after leading the race for so long.

Mark Webber was 5th, and never looked like winning. Massa was 6th, while Paul di Resta was an excellent 7th.

Note: I’ll be away for most of next week, so there will be no after-race articles for a while.

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