Button Triumphs in Hungary
Jenson Button marked his 200th Grand Prix start with victory in Hungary, calmly dealing with the changeable conditions. It wasn’t all plain sailing for McLaren, however, as a series of strategy moves relegated Lewis Hamilton from what would have been a comfortable win to having to fight his way back up to fourth. However, Sebastian Vettel was probably the day’s big winner, extending his Championship lead out to 85 points as Formula One heads into its summer recess.
Starting on a wet but drying track with the intermediate tyres, the early stages of the race were scrappy. Vettel lead the field away, Mercedes making the big gains further back as both cars leapfrogged the Ferraris. Hamilton, however, was pressuring Vettel all the way and eventually reaped the benefit on lap five when Vettel ran wide at Turn 2. As the teams came in for slicks, Button took advantage of stopping a lap earlier than Vettel to make it a McLaren 1-2 out front.
By this stage, the Red Bulls were running 3rd and 4th with Alonso just behind them and Massa making up lost ground after an earlier spin. That’s the way it should have remained but the late race strategy threatened to mix that up as Hamilton was sent out for a third stint on the supersoft compound while Button and Vettel were handed the soft tyres. With Hamilton certain to need to stop again, the pressure was on to open up sufficient gap to allow that. That, combined with the sudden appearance of rain at the chicane saw Hamilton spin in the middle of the track, a mistake that was to prove more costly than the loss of the entire gap he’d built up over Button as a drive-through penalty was to follow for the way he recovered the car in the path of Paul di Resta.
That meant a straight-forward run to the finish for Button while Hamilton came out behind Mark Webber and Felipe Massa. Massa was soon dispatched as he came to end of the life of his tyres but Webber was going to be more problematic. Eventually, Hamilton exploited Webber’s hesitancy in traffic to clinch fourth, behind Alonso.
Driver of the Day:
Jenson Button had a faultless drive from start to finish, calmly staying out of trouble and coolly dispatching Sebastian Vettel at the first opportunity early in the race. While there was an element of luck in his victory, there can be no arguing with his driving.
Sebastian Vettel pushed out his Championship lead to the biggest gap he has enjoyed all season as his closest rivals trailed him home. He didn’t have the best car on the day but with calm and mature performances like this, it is hard to see him giving away the Championship no matter how much McLaren and Ferrari come to the fore.
Meanwhile, in the sister team, Sebastien Buemi was taking his Toro Rosso from the back of the grid to an eighth place that would have been impressive regardless were Toro Rosso had started on the grid. Much of the work was done on the first lap – an incredible nine places gained – however there followed steady progress up the field as he handled the slippery conditions with great aplomb before his three-stop strategy was rewarded with some late race gains.
It sounds harsh on a day that they won but McLaren really should have had a 1-2 finish. It looked like McLaren opted to split their strategies to ensure success – Hamilton was put out on to the supersoft tyres again while Button was switched to the soft compound. That meant Hamilton would need to stop again in order to reach the finish while Button had the possibility of running through to the end – why they would put Hamilton, who was in the lead by a comfortable margin, on the riskier strategy made no sense. In the end Hamilton was caught out by the wet but you can’t help but feeling that the pressure of the tyre situation played a part.
It’s unusual to see a car on fire in modern Formula One so it may be a bit worrying that it has happened to a Renault twice this year. More alarming may be the minor explosion that occurred at the side of the car. I can’t ever remember seeing something like that happen and the FIA need to establish the cause – a marshall came close to being injured as it was. Could it be connected to KERS?
After the initial excitement the race settled down into an established order with only pockets of minor battles. Then it descended back into chaos as differing strategies and a small shower sowed confusion up and down the pitlane. Overall a good race, and certainly an improvement on typical trips to the Hungaroring.
|5.||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||+49.742|
|7.||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|8.||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|9.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|10.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|11.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|12.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault||+1 Lap|
|13.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams-Cosworth||+2 Laps|
|14.||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||+2 Laps|
|15.||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||+2 Laps|
|16.||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Cosworth||+2 Laps|
|17.||Timo Glock||Virgin-Cosworth||+4 Laps|
|18.||Daniel Ricciardo||HRT-Cosworth||+4 Laps|
|19.||Jérôme D’Ambrosio||Virgin-Cosworth||+5 Laps|
|20.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT-Cosworth||+5 Laps|
Fastest Lap: Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:23.415
Fastest Pitstop: Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull-Renault – 19.664s (entry-exit)
|Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus-Renault||Lap 56||Water leak|
|Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||Lap 27||Spin|
|Nick Heidfeld||Renault||Lap 24||Engine|
|Jarno Trulli||Lotus-Renault||Lap 18||Oil leak|
World Drivers’ Championship:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||234 Points|
|2.||Mark Webber||149 Points|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||146 Points|
|4.||Fernando Alonso||145 Points|
|5.||Jenson Button||134 Points|
World Constructors’ Championship:
|1.||Red Bull-Renault||383 Points|
Photo: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes