Lewis Hamilton won his second race of the year today in Hungary, taking the flag with a wire to wire performance, but not without an exciting closing battle with Lotus-Renault driver Kimi Raikkonen, who claimed second place. The Lotus-Renault team completed the best day in their short history by placing a second car on the podium for the first time ever. Romain Grosjean grabbed that third spot, which may have even been a bit disappointing, after he started the day on the front row. Raikkonen had started the race in the 5th slot, so his big day was the result of a very impressive combination of reactive team strategy and Kimi’s mastering of his tires. Seems to me like this finish heralds the arrival of a new force on the horizon in Formula One.
But for Lewis, this victory must seem like a long time in coming, his last victory in Canada back in June seems like eons ago in this new world of rapidly evolving 2012 Formula One time. Hungary is a fine place for Hamilton to get back in to the winning mood, today’s victory is his third at the Hungaroring, his first coming during his rookie year in 2007 and his second win was back in 2009.
“Well, what can I say?! I’m over the moon! The team did a fantastic job! Absolutely brilliant! It was a really enjoyable race – but it wasn’t at all easy. In fact, I reckon that it was one of the toughest races I’ve ever driven – but, guess what, I’ll savour it all the more for that. I was under a lot of pressure throughout all 69 laps. First, Romain Grosjean and then Kimi Raikkonen were right behind me, all the way through, and I had to look after my tyres without letting my pace drop, which was pretty tricky at times.”
Hamilton’s win today moves him into 4th position in the overall standings, 47 points behind the leader Fernando Alonso, who finished in 5th today. Alonso maintains a healthy lead of 40 points over Mark Webber. who had a very average day on this tight circuit near Budapest. Webber settled for 8th after starting 11th, but he could not even pass Bruno Senna’s Williams-Renault, who very happily snatched 7th place.
Hamilton now joins Alonso and Webber as the only multiple winners in 2012. Alonso now has 164 points, Webber has 124. Mark’s Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel is right behind him with 122 and Lewis is in 4th spot, just 5 points behind Sebastian. Raikkonen now has 116 points, just 1 measly point behind Hamilton in 5th overall. That is a total of 8 points covering the four drivers from 2nd to 5th in the title chase.
Everything it seems is up for grabs in this tremendously exciting 2012 Formula One season.
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal and always a great quote, agrees with the idea that today’s Hamilton win means that the title chase is far from decided, “He made a superb start from pole position, then controlled the race with masterful authority, all the while balancing the necessity to execute rapid laps against the equally pressing requirement to conserve his tyres. The 25 points he annexed today have taken his season-so-far total to 117. Although he’s still a little way behind the Drivers’ World Championship leader, he’s now very well placed to mount an assault on the Drivers’ World Championship crown over the remaining nine races of the season. Believe me, it’s still all up for grabs.”
Alonso was very pleased pleased that his closest rival Mark Webber got out scored by all the top drivers today, which kept those points away from Webber. That was critical on a day where Fernando’s Ferrari was never in contention for a win in any way, in fact he finished nearly 30 seconds behind Lewis.“It’s a positive result, no doubt about it. We knew this would be a complicated weekend because we were not quick enough, but despite everything, we managed to extend our lead over Webber. In terms of the championship it has therefore been a very good weekend. To have finished ahead of one Red Bull and right behind the other in these circumstances was very important because, on paper, we should have expected to finish seventh.”
Mark was 8 seconds behind Alonso, but Sebastian Vettel did have a decent day with the 4th slot, extending the Red Bull lead in the team title chase to 53 points over McLaren-Mercedes. Lotus-Renault is now in the 3rd spot overall, only 1 point behind McLaren.
August has arrived on the Formula calendar, a time for the F1 grid to grab some R and R and take a long break from racing until August 31 in Belgium for Round 12. Now that Lotus seems to have fully arrived as a new high speed force on the F1 scene, it seems like the next two tracks, the magnificent high speed circuits at Spa Francorchamps and Monza in Italy, are right in the black and gold Lotus team’s wheelhouse. McLaren and Lewis have also left a lasting impression with this win, coupled with Button’s excellent result in Germany and his acceptable 6th place today, it looks like their team is up for a fight down the stretch. Vettel will make plenty of noise the rest of the way while he defends his championship. Webber will be out to prove that the perceived Red Bull advantage/loophole of the now banned engine mapping and mysterious ride height adjustment controversy is behind him now and not the reason for his current second place standing.
Fernando Alonso should enjoy his vacation very much, confident with his 40 point plus lead, but he should be wary of the Lotus and McLaren revival at the same time. It should be an absolutely amazing second half of the Formula One season, starting August 31 from the fantastically astonishing racing circuit known as Spa in the Belgian forest.
Hungarian Grand Prix Results – 29 July 2012 – 69 Laps
POS DRIVER NATIONALITY ENTRANT LAPS TIME/RETIRE
1. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 69 1h41m05.503
2. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Lotus-Renault 69 1.032
3. Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault 69 10.517
4. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 69 11.614
5. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari 69 26.653
6. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes 69 30.243
7. Bruno Senna Brazil Williams-Renault 69 33.899
8. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 69 34.458
9. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari 69 38.350
10. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes GP 69 51.234
11. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Force India-Mercedes 69 57.283
12. Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes 69 1m02.883
13. Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Williams-Renault 69 1m03.606
14. Sergio Perez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari 69 1m04.494
15. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 68 1 Lap
16. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 68 1 Lap
17. Heikki Kovalainen Finland Caterham-Renault 68 1 Lap
18. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Sauber-Ferrari 67 2 Laps
19. Vitaly Petrov Russia Caterham-Renault 67 2 Laps
20. Charles Pic France Marussia-Cosworth 67 2 Laps
21. Timo Glock Germany Marussia-Cosworth 66 3 Laps
22. Pedro de la Rosa Spain HRT-Cosworth 66 3 Laps
R Narain Karthikeyan India HRT-Cosworth 60 Suspension
R Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes GP 58 Retired
Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault 68 1:24.136