Lewis Hamilton takes McLaren back to winning ways

2009 Hungarian Grand Prix review

Lewis Hamilton scored his second win at the Hungaroring

Lewis Hamilton scored his second win at the Hungaroring

Lewis Hamilton seized the lead of the Hungarian Grand Prix and never let it go as McLaren bounced back from their terrible start to 2009.

The world champion was followed home by Kimi Raikkonen – the only Ferrari in the race following Felipe Massa’s crash – meaning KERS-powered cars filled the first two places on the podium for the first time.

Mark Webber boosted his championship chances with third – but Sebastian Vettel failed to finish and Jenson Button could only manage seventh.

Raikkonen and Vettel tangle

Fernando Alonso kept his lead easily at the start – but behind him four cars came out of the first corner side-by-side. They were led by Webber, who re-passed Hamilton’s McLaren, which had made its usual terrific KERS-boosted getaway.

Raikkonen had also made rapid KERS-powered progress and took up fourth behind Hamilton, squeezing Vettel aside as they headed towards turn two. That damaged the Red Bull, and he slipped down the order behind Nico Rosberg and Heikki Kovalainen. Shortly afterwards the stewards announced they would take a look at it after the race. and Vettel laid blame for the contact unequivocally at Raikkonen’s feet.

Button was beaten away from the line by Kazuki Nakajima and fell to ninth. But – just as he did at Bahrain and Sepang – a crucial pass on the second lap put him back in front of the Williams driver.

Alonso’s race ends early

Alonso’s light Renault quickly scampered off into the lead, but Webber couldn’t keep Hamilton back. On lap four another well-timed jab of the KERS button got Hamilton alongside the Red Bull and past around the outside of turn two.

Despite carrying more fuel, Hamilton began cutting into Alonso’s lead. Alonso’s 2.9s advantage lap five was trimmed back to 1.2s by lap nine. From there Hamilton wasn’t able to get much closer – but Alonso was about to come into the pits for a stop which proved the undoing of his race.

The front-right wheel didn’t attach to the R29 properly, and by the second corner the wheel fairing had blown free. Even more alarmingly, in light of recent accidents, the wheel then fell off completely, but mercifully no-one hit it. His race ruined, Alonso limped back into the pits for a new wheel, and later retired.

Red Bull pit problems

Hamilton now took up the lead and quickly extended his advantage over Webber. Despite having gone to the grid with more fuel, Webber came into the pits before Hamilton, on the same lap as Raikkonen.

Webber, too, ran into trouble on his pit stop and the team ended up releasing him as Raikkonen was passing by. The pair avoided contact – and there was no word of an investigation by the stewards – but Raikkonen took the position.

Vettel had more serious problems. After his pit stop on lap 21 he complained to the team that his car felt un-driveable, and there were signs of smoke from the back of the car. The team summoned him to the pits to have the car looked at, but after a brief return to the track with a new front wing tyres, he retired the Red Bull, blaming his problem on the contact with Raikkonen.

Hamilton dominates

After the early round of pit stops Hamilton held onto his lead with Button now up to second – though yet to come into the pits. He was catching Hamilton quickly, but not happy with his car’s performance on the super soft tyres. But a switch to soft tyres on lap 25 only made things worse and he slipped out of the points positions – Giancarlo Fisichella overtaking the Brawn as it came out of the pits.

Hamilton’s hold on the lead never looked anything less than solid, and so did Raikkonen’s grasp on second, despite a slow getaway after his second stop. Webber dropped back from the Ferrari and was caught by Kovalainen and Rosberg. The McLaren driver pitted first of the three, falling behind Rosberg, but Webber held his position.

Timo Glock ran two very long stints which worked well for him, and would have done better had he not got stuck behind Raikkonen. After his final pit stop he came out ahead of not only team mate Jarno Trulli but also Button, and spent the run to the chequered flag vainly chasing Kovalainen. Trulli in turn had Nakajima and Rubens Barrichello close behind him – the second Brawn driver enduring a compromised race after starting outside the top ten.

At the back of the field, newcomer Jaime Alguersuari finished ahead of just one other runner but it was an important one: his team mate Sebastien Buemi

. The Swiss driver spun off at turn two late in the race, and both Toro Rossos set their fastest lap on the final tour.

The result lifts Webber to second in the drivers’ championship race, making him the leading rival to Button. The Brawn driver’s lead is trimmed to 18.5 points and Brawn’s lead in the constructors’ championship is now only 15.5.

Lewis Hamilton, meanwhile, more than doubled his championship tally, moving into eighth place with 19 points.

Driver of the race

Hard to pick anyone other than Lewis Hamilton for driver of the race. Here’s who you picked on Twitter:

lukeatherton – hammy baby!!
dcowlives – Has 2 b Hamilton, expected him 2 take lead but not stay there & in such commandng fashion. 10/10 to the boy from Stevenage.
rubvic – I think Lewis did the best job, and managed to open a confortable gap.
HansiF – Congratulations to Jaime Alguersuari who finished ahead of his team mate in his first ever Grand Prix
shaohanmandy – I should say ….Lewis
noelinho – Hamilton has to be driver of the race, but a great drive from Rosberg too. He’s definitely worth an honorary mention.
TweetingSteve – Hamilton no doubt – great start, great overtaking of Weber and great race from the front.
Jake360 – Kimi drove the best in my opinion with a car not as good as the Mclaren. Can’t take anything away from Lewis though.
Pearlaceous – Got to be Ham for me :)
Greg0800 – Glock

Who was your driver of the race? Have your say below.

Read more: Rate the race: Hungarian Grand Prix

Update: Raikkonen has not been punished for his actions at the start. Red Bull have been reprimanded for releasing Webber unsafely into the path of Raikkonen.

Update 2: Renault banned from European Grand Prix following Fernando Alonso?s wheel loss

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103 comments on Lewis Hamilton takes McLaren back to winning ways

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  1. Adrian said on 26th July 2009, 15:59

    I’m suprised at Brawn’s performance today. They seem to have gone backwards ever since they started to introduce big updates to the car. Could it be worth them going back to the Turkey spec and seeing where that puts them..??

    But congratulations go out to Lewis for a superb drive and well deserved win..!!

    • mp4-19b said on 26th July 2009, 16:52

      it would be worth a try, wouldn’t it? even ron brawn was quoted saying that they are experiencing this tyre temperature problems, since the new upgrades. so definitely it would be worth a try to revert back to istanbul trim.

      http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/77333

    • Tiomkin said on 26th July 2009, 16:56

      You can’t just go back, remember that everyone else has gone forward. If you did revert you’d end up with the performance of a wheelbarrow.

      • mp4-19b said on 26th July 2009, 17:02

        atleast its wort a try, isn’t it? if the current trend follows, webber or vettel will swallow button’s lead by japan. to make matters worse, they have mclaren,ferrari,williams,toyota to take points off them.

      • Of course you can go back. True, other teams have updated their cars to go faster, but look at how close the 2009 spec cars are to the lap times of 2008 spec cars around each track. The 09 cars are all still slower, so even the current “fastest” teams haven’t improved greatly over the brawn car before its updates.

      • matt said on 26th July 2009, 21:27

        According to Button the car is worse to drive and probably slower than it was before, so they may well be better off with an older spec/set-up.

  2. Driver of the race: Lewis, no doubts. I think that is the drive of the year so far. Fantastic start and overtake in Mark, great managing of the car and tyres and engine. He was brilliant today.

    • S Hughes said on 26th July 2009, 16:25

      Totally agree. If only he had this car at the beginning of the year. He is head and shoulders the best driver on the grid. Just compare him to his teammate.

      • mp4-19b said on 26th July 2009, 16:47

        why is kovi so substandard? after all the beat shoemaker at ROC in 2004. atleast he must ahve finished on the podium. bad drive from him to say the least.

        • pSynrg said on 26th July 2009, 17:08

          Have you ever seen the ROC? A fun day out in the park indeed – and not really a benchmark for F1 is it?
          I think it more accurate to say Schuey is the master of F1 but not ROC, and Kovi maybe the other way round..?

        • Patrickl said on 26th July 2009, 17:33

          Kovalainen came second in GP2 (behind Rosberg) just like Piquet came second behind Hamilton.

          Maybe you should compare Kovalainen to Piquet. Then I’d say Kovalainen didn’t perform so poorly. Or at least not so consistently poorly.

      • I don’t think you can say he is head and shoulders above Alonso..

  3. F14EVA said on 26th July 2009, 16:02

    Great GP, plenty on incidents and great strategies to keep all interested. I blogged here at the weekend saying I felt Mclaren had genuine pace and also keep an eye out for Kimi – just wish I had put my money where my mouth was on my Predictions on Friday – lol!!

    • mp4-19b said on 26th July 2009, 16:58

      stupid alonso & ING spoilt my prediction. what the heck were they thinking? to add salt to the injuries, they messed it up in spectacular fashion. that renault on three wheels look like a bullock-cart. really ridiculous.

  4. Patrickl said on 26th July 2009, 16:16

    Amazing race for Hamilton and Raikkonen. I had never expected this. I would have thought Webber could have won here.

    Button sure had a very disappointing race. He could have gotten a good result, but I guess he just couldn’t get his tyres to work. No excuses that it’s too cold this time though.

    Glock had a great race. Never noticed him really during the race, but in the end he had a good result.

    Alonso was lucky his wheel came off. Otherwise he would have had to face the embarssment of that pathetic strategy.

    Like I predicted, he ended up behind Trulli and Buemi after his first stop. He’d have been lucky to have finished the race in P9.

    I really don’t see why they keep trying that nonsense.

    • Tom Watson said on 26th July 2009, 16:40

      Although unlikely, maybe Renault predicted that alonso would suffer the degredation he did, after 12/13 laps he was having major problems so that could account to why he was light.

      • Patrickl said on 26th July 2009, 17:35

        Yeah, lets hope that that was it. Like when McLaren knew Hamilton had problems with his tyres and therefore needed a 3 stop race.

        Better that than the idea that they were stealing pole just to take some fake publicity.

        • Maksutov said on 28th July 2009, 19:12

          i think you are correct Patrickl. I don’t see any justification why they keep doing the same thing other then some fake publicity. I feel this is pretty much all Alonso’s doing.

  5. mp4-19b said on 26th July 2009, 16:35

    at last the unthinkable has been achieved. mclaren’s race pace was genuine after all. i found it very strange that both hakkinen & webber despite carrying more fuel than hamilton came into the pits before him. are the ferrari & renault engines inefficient in fuel consumption? i never expected a mclaren win, especially here at hungary. even hammi was down playing his chances. neverthless the victory has come at the right place * at the right time. if they push harder into the development of their car, i see them winning the remainder of the season. WHAT WAS ALONSO THINKING!!!! worst blunder i’ve seen in recent times. that loose tyre could have struck anyone. lucky it didn’t happen.

    driver of the day————>> Lewis Hamilton
    fools of the day————->>Fernando Alonso & Nicole Scherzinger(for that artificial crocodile tear ;) )

  6. Stuart H said on 26th July 2009, 16:36

    Excellent win for McLaren! I just wonder if Ham had got podiums in Aus, Monaco and Germany (which were all possible) he would still be defending his title. Thats the way it goes though. I sort of hope Button wins the championship still, but Webber would also deserve it. Vettel is getting a bit annoying now.

    I expected McLaren to come back earleir in the season, but was not expecting them to win at all this year. Just proves the car was just under developed after all, not fundamentally flawed as some suggested.

    All the best to Massa for recovery. That must have hurt somewhat.

    • Paige Michael-Shetley said on 27th July 2009, 9:18

      Not so sure about that one, mate. Reflecting on those races:

      Oz- As it unfolded, Hamilton would have had a 4th place finish and five points if he and Ryan had not lied to the stewards.

      Monaco- He probably would have challenged for the podium if he hadn’t tried to win pole in Q1. He wouldn’t have beaten Button, who was too quick that weekend in the Brawn, but he would have had a legitimate shot at 2nd or 3rd depending on where he qualified. For all intents and purposes, let’s say he would have finished 2nd without his error at Mirabeau in Q1.

      Germany- This was tough luck, as the contact with Webber wasn’t necessarily his fault. (In fact, Webber apologized to McLaren for it.) If he had gotten through turn one unscathed, he probably would have finished on the podium. He wouldn’t have had the pace to beat Webber for the win, but he may have had enough to beat Vettel (who was held up by Kovalainen) for 2nd and certainly would have beaten Massa for 3rd. Let’s be generous and give him 8 points for 2nd.

      These finishes would have given him 21 additional points, putting him at 40 points and around 4th-5th in the driving championship standings. He’d be 29 points behind Button and would have an extremely tall order to not only overcome that deficit in seven races, but also leapfrog the Red Bull, who probably still have the top car right now.

      In any event, fantastic performance by Hamilton. Given the rate of development by McLaren, in which Hamilton has certainly played no small role given that they can’t use DLR in tests; and his both ruthlessly quick and cerebrally composed drive this weekend; there should be absolutely no doubt now that he is very much in the same sentence as Alonso in the “best driver in F1″ conversation.

      Speaking of Alonso…

      Isn’t it convenient that Ferrari will have an open seat for Valencia while Renault will be banned for one of two races in which Alonso MUST be on the grid for the good of all of F1?

  7. What a turnaround for McLaren! good for them!

    Its going to be a great second half of the season and with the BrawnGP team seeming to be going backwards, the improved McLaren may just help take some points from the RedBulls.

    Its going to go down to the wire!

    Best wishes to Massa also. Lets hope he makes a speedy recovery.

  8. SafirXP said on 26th July 2009, 16:39

    Great great drive from the top 3. Had to wait 7 months to see Lewis win, saved 2009 for me! :D

    Tuff luck for the spaniard! Really enjoyed that!

    Kimi shouldn’t be penalised if you ask me, but then again if Webber got penalised for that Nurburgring start, then so be it. Since the stewards are supposed to be consistent.

  9. David said on 26th July 2009, 16:47

    Fascinating start: Raikkonen aggressive (though in my mind legit) like Webber off the grid in Germany. Hamilton perfectly weighed use of KERS, not over-reaching this time, getting out of trouble from Kimi, almost taking second at the first corner, excellent overtake later. Shouldn’t underestimate his ability to make a lot of clear air between himself and second place when he’s in the groove. And Vettel? Just now he seems to be a kid being bossed off the track. Given the dive in Brawn’s performance, that would suggest Webber is now in with a real chance of gaining the title (!) with neither Button nor Barrichello seemingly willing or able to take drivers on (like Hamilton or Massa previous two seasons say) to get those extra points that could just keep the title out of reach. And along with Lewis, Kimi looks set to be a real pain in the butt for all the contenders. So too Rosberg. The end of the season bodes well after all!

  10. Shagrathian (@shagrathian) said on 26th July 2009, 16:51

    Lewis, for sure. Despite he was dirty side on the grid, he had a reasonably good start. After that, he drove smoothly like a champion. Cheers!

  11. iceshiel said on 26th July 2009, 17:04

    Seeing lewis and kimi lead the race was very refreshing!

  12. Lynn said on 26th July 2009, 17:10

    Great drive by Lewis, well done to the team, esp to Martin he was over the moon. And yes we did laugh out loud at Nicole, what on earth is wrong with that woman!

    • mp4-19b said on 26th July 2009, 17:14

      the way she was jumping when hammi passed webber, i though her tops were going to fall off! wouldn’t that have been nice ;) ?

    • Patrickl said on 26th July 2009, 17:31

      Are americans always that emotional? I thought they were just faking it for shows like pimp my ride, but maybe that’s normal behavior there?

      • mp4-19b said on 26th July 2009, 17:43

        it look very artificial to me though. for a moment i though she was deliberately jumping up & down , waiting for he gown to fall. pity it didn’t happen :(

        • Patrickl said on 26th July 2009, 18:08

          I’ve seen pictures of when exactly that happened during a show in Amsterdam. Trust me, you don’t want to see her gown come down.

      • S Hughes said on 26th July 2009, 20:52

        Look, she’s just madly in love with him. I can understand that!

  13. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th July 2009, 17:21

    Something may be up – according to Jonathan Noble on Twitter:

    Representatives of Renault and Red Bull Racing have been summoned to see the race stewards at the Hungarian GP

    • mp4-19b said on 26th July 2009, 17:25

      why? if anyone had to be summoned, it has to be raikkonen for that reckless maneuver. hope they don’t penalize webber for some hypothetical reason.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th July 2009, 17:26

        There was nothing wrong with what Raikkonen did. He had to move to avoid Webber, and Vettel had plenty of space on his right to avoid contact. He just failed to use it.

        • Pedro Carvalho said on 26th July 2009, 18:31

          I’m not sure, I need to take a look at the first lap again, but I believe that Kimi and Vettel touched 2 times – first on the straight, and again around turn 1.

          The first one seemed casual, but I do think that the second one was worth a penalty (especially bearing in mind eg. Bourdais Fuji 2008 or Mark this year in Germany).

          Either way, they announced no penalty for Kimi so it’s just my opinion.

    • Patrickl said on 26th July 2009, 17:38

      What was the incident was between a Renault and a Red Bull?

      • mp4-19b said on 26th July 2009, 17:40

        renault is the engine supplier for red bull, unlike mercedes they take false credit for every red bull victory.

  14. Brian said on 26th July 2009, 17:21

    YAY that Brawn Sucked and BOOOOOOOO that Hammy won!
    Happy for Kimi and Ferrari. Kimi seemed quite motivated today.
    Oh, and get rid of KERS for the rest of the year, its so annoying. or at least don’t let them use it on straight off the grid. It should be a square fight to the first corner. Maybe then we would see Hamiliton in the front less often :)

    • Patrickl said on 26th July 2009, 17:39

      Raikkonen wouldn’t have been in front either. Ferrari rely more on KERS than McLaren.

      Ferrari simply blow their Q3 knowing that they can make up places at the start.

    • David said on 26th July 2009, 20:40

      A bit of a nonsensical comment since without being lured into developing KERS by FIA, McLaren (and Ferrari) would probably already be near the front all the time!

  15. Oliver said on 26th July 2009, 17:21

    Congratulations to Whitmarsh on his first win as team principal, he has really aged these past few months.

    Once again the stewards proved to be inconsistent. 70 whole laps to investigate a minor incident, yet they conveniently chose not to bother with it. Kimi’s move on Hamilton was similar to Webber’s on Barichello. Both not deliberate, but still reckless. Yet Webber was penalised within the first pit stop window. Would have been better they just said ‘car 4 given a stern warning’ and be done with that.

    Great determined drive from Hamilton. Brawn seem to suddenly recall they didn’t do much pre season testing. :-) They need to keep up or it wont help their cause for sponsorship.

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