Lewis Hamilton proved he is still hungry for wins in Formula One last weekend with a first place finish at the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Mercedes-Benz driver had a strong time at the track after the mid-season break: although Friday practice produced less than stellar results, the Briton dug deep for qualifying on Saturday and put his car at the front of the grid, just four 100ths of a second ahead of reigning world champion and current points leader Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull.
It was a strong showing for Lotus, too, with second driver Romain Grosjean rounding out the top three on the grid – just under 0.6 of a second covered the top seven places, with the usual protagonists of Rosberg, Alonso, Raikkonen and Massa rounding out the front seven. It was set up to be a close race.
Torro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo made a strong case for himself in the race to the Red Bull seat that will be vacated by Mark Webber at the end of this season, qualifying in eighth, ahead of Webber who completed the top 10.
We’re fans of the McLaren team here at T W White & Sons, with the factory based just down the road in Woking, so the team’s much improved showing over the weekend offered signs its fortunes could be looking up.
Perez started the race from ninth position, while Button could only manage a best of 13th place on Saturday – he was to have a much better time of it on Sunday, however.
Come race say, Hamilton got off to a strong start, with Vettel slipping back giving the Mercedes man some breathing space. But such is the fragility of the tyres in F1 this season – and especially on the Silver Arrows – Lewis still had his work cut out.
He controlled the pace and had clear air to show the Mercedes’ speed after passing Button’s McLaren immediately after his first pit stop – something the Red Bull and Lotus of Vettel and Grosjean took a few laps to do, losing both drivers valuable time.
Following Hamilton’s second and third stops for tyres – which the driver and the car seemed to manage better than in previous races this season – Lewis cemented his victory and showed his speed and determination to the rest of the field with two brilliant overtaking manoeuvres on Webber’s Red Bull.
Both times he rejoined behind the Australian, but both times he carried extra speed around the outside into turn two, before getting the drive for the dominant line at the fast turn three. Brave stuff from both drivers.
Gorsjean was at the centre of controversy again after clashing with Button, making contact with the McLaren through not leaving sufficient room for both cars, but he later redeemed himself (or so he thought) by pulling off a stunning pass around the outside of Felipe Massa’s Ferrari at turn four.
However, the stewards later decided to give the Frenchman a drive through penalty for exceeding the track limits (having all four wheels over the white line) – while this was technically true, many other cars had been doing the same thing all over the track throughout the race without being penalised. It seemed a harsh sentence given the entertainment, skill and bravery the Lotus driver gave the Hungarian fans.
He eventually recovered to finish sixth, however, behind Alonso in fifth and Webber in fourth, who drove a stellar race to recover from car problems earlier on in the weekend and a less than auspicious qualifying.
It was Grosjean’s teammate Raikkonen that took second spot, while Vettel recovered from a suspect start to finish third, scoring valuable world championship points – his lead in the title race now stands at 38 points over Raikkonen (134) and Alonso (133). Hamilton clawed back some ground with his win, moving onto 124 points.
McLaren unlocked some more pace from its 2013 car in Hungary, with Jenson Button finishing a solid seventh – a useful improvement on his grid slot – and Perez coming home in ninth, recording a decent race performance to finish where he started.
While it might not sound great news for a team of McLaren’s stature, things are heading in the right direction, and it bodes well for the second half of the season.
Did you watch the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix? What did you think of the racing and Hamilton’s victory? Maybe you’ve got an opinion on Grosjean’s rise from zero to hero, only to be dumped back down again with his drive through penalty?