VF1Blog: Hamilton takes first Mercedes victory
Lewis Hamilton has finally secured his first victory for Mercedes, after an exhilarating and frenetic Hungarian Grand Prix around the Hungaroring. The 2008 World Champion was followed by the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen, with Sebastian Vettel a close 3rd after failing to find a way around the Finnish ace.
At the start Lewis Hamilton managed to maintain his lead into Turn 1, as further back his German team-mate Nico Rosberg endured a frustrating first few corners. The 28-year-old suffered a minor collision with Felipe Massa at Turn 5, which saw him momentarily leave the track as the Brazilian suffered front-wing damage. Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel began to reel in Lewis Hamilton, with Romain Grosjean hot on the German’s heels in the Lotus.
However, after momentarily rising into the DRS zone Sebastian Vettel began to loose time in the wake of Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, therefore allowing Romain Grosjean to greatly catch the reigning Champion. On Lap 8 Jean-Eric Vergne and Giedo van der Garde became the first drivers to complete a scheduled pit-stop, one lap before Lewis Hamilton did likewise at the front and therefore gifted the lead down to Sebastian Vettel. However, the German’s lead was short-lived before he also pitted several laps later and allowed Romain Grosjean to assume the lead for Lotus.
The German driver frustratingly returned to the track not only behind Lewis Hamilton but also the McLaren of Jenson Button, who elected to start the race on the medium tyre compound and was therefore on a longer stint. Lewis Hamilton had quickly managed to dispose of his former team-mate, however Sebastian Vettel struggled greatly to match his rivals manoeuvre. Fernando Alonso pitted from 2nd position on Lap 12, allowing Kimi Raikkonen to rise up into 2nd position and create a Lotus 1-2 at the front. On Lap 13 the Enstone-based outfit elected to perform and double-stop, with both Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen pitting at the same time, albeit separated by just under ten seconds.
After starting from way down in 10th position, Mark Webber assumed the lead once the Lotus duo pitted. Whilst one Red Bull circulated in the lead of the race, the other was surprisingly struggling behind the McLaren of Jenson Button with both Romain Grosjean and Fernando Alonso catching them both. The three-time Champion lightly collided with the rear of Jenson Button through Turn 2 on Lap 16, as frustrations ran high within the cockpit of the RB9.
Whilst Sebastian Vettel continued to struggle to find a way around the McLaren of Jenson Button, the Force India of Adrian Sutil was forced into an unfortunate retirement due to a hydraulic issue on his car, prematurely ending his 100th Grand Prix. Mark Webber eventually pitted from the lead of the race on Lap 23, allowing Lewis Hamilton to resume his lead at the front. Several laps later Sebastian Vettel finally managed to overtake Jenson Button at Turn 4, in doing so allowing Romain Grosjean to catch the Briton. As the duo negotiated Turns 6 and 7, they collided and subsequently both quickly returned to the pits to check for any damage sustained.
After confirming that no damage had been sustained to either Jenson Button or Romain Grosjean, the two drivers returned to the action with the Frenchman behind Felipe Massa. However, the former GP2 Champion quickly disposed of the Brazilian around the outside of Turn 4. Initially it was perceived as a sensational maneuver, however it was later discovered that he had allegedly gained an advantage by running wide and off of the circuit. The Frenchman was subsequently struck with a drive-thru penalty, ruining his chances of finishing on the podium.
Esteban Gutierrez became the next retirement on Lap 30, after a drive train issue struck his Ferrari-powered Sauber and ended a miserable weekend. Whilst the Mexican returned to the pits, Lewis Hamilton pitted once again from the lead of the race, ceding his lead at the front to the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel. The Mercedes driver rejoined just behind Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso, however he wasted no time in storming around the outside of the Australian driver at Turn 2, perfecting a masterful overtaking maneuver as Webber ran wide at Turn 3.
Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel both pitted on Lap 34, allowing Lewis Hamilton to quickly resume his lead at the front. Nico Hulkenberg was struck with a drive-thru penalty for speeding the pit-lane on Lap 39, with the German striving to add to Sauber’s meager tally in the Constructors’ Championship. Kimi Raikkonen pitted on Lap 42 from 3rd, before Mark Webber did likewise a lap later. Valtteri Bottas became the third retirement of the race on Lap 44, after the Finnish rookie suffered an engine-related issue and stopped along the start/finish straight. At first it was thought the safety car would be called upon, however the Hungarian marshals soon managed to efficiently clear the stricken Williams under double-waved yellow flags.
Lewis Hamilton pitted for a third time on Lap 50, once again loosing the lead to Sebastian Vettel. Five laps later the German ace also pitted for a third and final time, rejoining behind Kimi Raikkonen as Lewis Hamilton returned into the lead of the race. Mark Webber soon pitted on Lap 59 for soft tyres, creating a thrilling final few laps as Kimi Raikkonen defended heavily against Sebastian Vettel in 3rd with Mark Webber catching the duo at a phenomenal rate.
Nico Rosberg suffered a catastrophic engine failure during the closing stages of the race, as over-heating became an increasing worry for the teams and drivers. Sebastian Vettel almost perfected an overtaking maneuver on Kimi Raikkonen on Lap 68, however the 2007 World Champion was wise to the challenge and defended heavily. Despite the dominant pace witnessed earlier in the weekend, Sebastian Vettel was unable to overtake the Finn as Lewis Hamilton stormed across the line to secure his first ever victory for Mercedes and the German marque’s first with a British driver since Sir Stirling Moss in 1955. Mark Webber failed to catch and challenge his team-mate for 3rd, after his soft tyres eventually degraded during the final laps.
Although Sebastian Vettel was once again unable to secure victory around the tight and twisty confines of the Hungaroring, the German remains in control at the top of the Drivers’ Championship on 172 points, 38 ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus. The Finnish sensation will be looking to catch the German next time out around the iconic and daunting Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, after the lengthy summer break.
Author: Andy Young
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