Hamilton fends off Lotuses for Hungary win

Lewis Hamilton has taken a well-deserved victory in Hungary, after holding off both Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen at different periods of the race. The Lotuses eventually finished 2nd and 3rd, with championship leader Fernando Alonso 5th. Mark Webber and Jenson Button had poor races, while Michael Schumacher’s race pretty much over before it even begun. Here is what happened:

The first start was aborted, due to an engine problem resulting in Michael Schumacher stalling on the grid. At the second start, Lewis Hamilton held his lead, while Sebastian Vettel hassled Romain Grosjean for 2nd. However, the Lotus held his position, and Jenson Button soon took advantage and moved up to 3rd.

Mark Webber made an excellent start on the medium tyre, leaping up to 7th. Championship leader Fernando Alonso moved up to 5th, while struggling teammate Massa fell to 9th.

Schumacher pitted at the end of the first lap for medium tyres, but his race was completely ruined, after he was handed a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

After the opening laps, Alonso began to lose pace, and a sizeable queue of cars began to form behind the Ferrari. Raikkonen in 6th attempted to get into position to make a pass, but a KERS failure meant that the Lotus failed to make a move. Kamui Kobayashi surprised many by taking his first pit stop as early as lap 8, taking on the medium tyre.

The top 2 began to tear away from the rest of the field, going 6 seconds ahead of the dueling Button and Vettel behind. Hamilton managed to eke out a 2.5 second lead, and managed to hold it all the way to his first pit stop.

Button was the first of the frontrunners to stop, and just about held his lead against Vettel, once the Red Bull took on the option tyre. Him and Grosjean were the only frontrunning drivers on the softer compound, and soon began to catch their on-track rivals. Alonso lost out the most at the first stops, losing 5th place to Kimi Raikkonen.

Despite being on the faster tyre, Romain was unable to pass the McLaren, partially due to the nature of the track, and also because of him being unable to close the gap in the DRS zone. Vettel, in the same situation, stated to his team that “I can do much faster than this”, being held up by Button.

With overtaking proving more and more difficult, both McLaren drivers were told to switch to “Plan B” – believed to be a 3-stopper. Button was the first of the two to pit again, releasing Vettel into 3rd, and taking on another set of options. However, he emerged behind Bruno Senna, and got stuck behind the Williams for several laps.

Once Vettel took on new tyres, he emerged easily ahead of Jenson. Having seen what happened, the Lotus team opted to pit Grosjean early, to avoid the same type of incident. Hamilton then pitted, and once the second round of stops had calmed down, the top 3 had closed in to within 3 seconds of each other. Raikkonen inherited the lead, with a 14-second gap between him and Hamilton, although he was yet to make a second stop.

With some searing pace, Raikkonen pushed as much as he could, then pitted on lap 46. He emerged 2nd, only 3 seconds behind Lewis, and with much fresher tyres. Entering the final 20 laps, there was only 6 seconds covering the top 4.

Further back, Pastor Maldonado was battling Paul di Resta for 12th place. As the Force India made a mistake, the Williams driver attempted to out-brake Di Resta, but ended up thumping the Force India off the track to take the position. The stewards took a dim view of the knock, and handed Maldonado a drive-through penalty.

Interestingly, both Raikkonen and Hamilton were informed of KERS issues with their cars, limiting their ability to pass and defend against each other. With 15 laps to go, the Lotus was within a second of the McLaren.

Amidst the battle for the lead, Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes was finally retired. After all the issues with the start, the team soon lost tyre telemetry, and opted to retire the car with 9 laps to go.

Although Raikkonen appeared to have the faster car, he was simply unable to make a move on the McLaren. The gap remained close all the way to the flag, and Lewis Hamilton crossed the line 1.03 seconds ahead of the Lotus. Grosjean held 3rd, with Vettel chasing him down similar to Raikkonen.

Alonso did well in damage limitation, holding 5th against Button, Senna and Webber. Felipe Massa was invisible all race, finishing 9th, with Nico Rosberg 10th in a dismal weekend for Mercedes.

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