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

  1. rahim said on 26th July 2009, 21:27

    Happy to see Lewis and Kimi’s face on the podium.
    Especially kimi…..he had a brilliant start….i dont believe in all criticism against kimi, why the s**t are we always talking about motivation, he is not a free f**k that just wants to waste his time over here not interested having got so many other talents………….
    why do we always go on assumptions………
    He has done well so just appreciate him…….not just assume that massa would have done better than him if he was in his place………Kimi is a great driver and its just the car that has given him a tag of not being “Motivated”
    I hope that we all just stop doubting his motivation and just look at his previous years and these performances where he got
    Ferrari’s 1st points
    Ferrari’s 1st podium
    Ferrari’s first P2
    This season. He just Ferrari from having the worse start of a season.HE IS GREAT DRIVER AND I JUST HOPE KIMI AND MASSA JUST KEEP WORKING AND WINNING. GET WELL SOON MASSA..

  2. Dane said on 26th July 2009, 23:02

    Good drive by Hamilton, he smashed it.
    Great to see Webber now 2nd in the championship

  3. Patrickl said on 26th July 2009, 23:11

    BTW is this already the time to start saying how terrific Hamilton is at developing the car?

    • Choltz said on 26th July 2009, 23:20

      Only if the McLaren Technology Centers CFD supercomputer is called Hamilton ;)

      • I agree Patrick. Lewis and Heikki spent hours and hours in the simulator developing this poor and mistaken car with their inputs, this effort will pay in the future and we are watching Lewis growing as a driver in front of eyes — working in one of his flaws, the technical feedback.

        This season is making him even stronger as a superb driver.

  4. Clay said on 26th July 2009, 23:20

    Lewis was awesome. And I’m saying this as an aussie who wants to see webbo win everything. He is reminding me a little of damon hill however – bloody quick in a quick car, but struggles in a ‘modest’ car. But he thoroughly deserved the win.

    Not sure if it was the bbc or our local commentators, but I heard someone say kimi might be heikki’s replacement next year – what the???

    • Patrickl said on 27th July 2009, 0:12

      Hamilton actually had a couple of great drives in that poorly performing car. Melbourne, Malaysia, China, Bahrain and even Spain.

      In Monaco he was great in practise, but obviously he messed up in quali.

      I’d say he even did reasonably well in Turkey where the car really wasn’t going. He beat Kovalainen there (and consistenly through the whole season) and that’s really the only benchmark we have.

      He has done nothing but show what a great champion he is all season.

      Besides, that McLaren is still a ‘modest’ car. The Red Bulls should have been quite a lot faster still.

      • roser said on 27th July 2009, 16:48

        Lewis did a very good job, I agree, but do not forget that he was 4rth at the start, and 1st and 2nd couldn’t finish the race… So OK, he did a good job and I congratulate him, but it would impress me more if for instance Vettel was also in the fight all the race :)

  5. Gman said on 26th July 2009, 23:36

    Fantastic to see Lewis back on top…now I can finally wear this season’s version of the rocket red victory t-shirt with a degree of confidence ;)

    Also great to see Webber second in the championship…how awesome would it be to see him chase down Button and bring home the title?

  6. manatcna said on 26th July 2009, 23:38

    No way Pedro :)

  7. Patrickl said on 27th July 2009, 0:04

    How do people feel about Briatore leaving the pitlane early? I thought that was extremely disrespectful.

    I’m not a fan of Piquet, but still.

  8. dmw said on 27th July 2009, 0:20

    Unfortunate for Kovalainen to finish behind Rosberg, in the self-same, fully-updated car that won the race in a walk. He got stuck in traffic yes but who did he pass to get free? His teammate passed Webber to win the race. I’ve always liked him, he has bona fide pace, but he just doesnt seem to show up on Sundays.

    • Arun Srini said on 27th July 2009, 3:27

      @dmw – not all teams treat their drivers equally, Kovi didn’t get the latest upgrades that Hammister got!! So much for driver impartiality!!

  9. Jay Menon said on 27th July 2009, 1:35

    Ans so he finally wins, I was hoping this day wouldn’t come this season, because as I predicted, the media and us have immortalized Lewis. As you may have figured out, I’m not a fan and Lewis, but I have to say..it was a great drive, the car looked very well balanced, and he’s done very well. Having said all this, I am still not sold on Lewis, but well done to the Mclaren team for fixing that car up.

    How I wish Renault could have done the same. Alonso was in with a shout for good in points haul…and then the wheel comes off. Now they are banned from the next race..crap!

    What a way to start your week huh?

  10. Arun Srini said on 27th July 2009, 3:25

    No one talks about Kimi now. Acc to me he drove a better race, but all credits for Hammister for the early passes. Resurgence of the old dogs eh??

    • Patrickl said on 27th July 2009, 9:43

      Hamilton won the race. That’s more than coming second.

      Besides as Raikkonen said, Hamilton was simply pacing himself to keep the gap to Raikkonen. Hamilton could go faster as he did when Raikkonen attempted to close the gap.

  11. wasiF1 said on 27th July 2009, 10:36

    They were talking a lot about Massa but they should have stop celebrating with champagne on the podium it looked odd.

    • Well, well, well… The HATERS never get tired. Always trying to find something to bash Lewis…

      • Oh f*ck off.

      • NDINYO said on 28th July 2009, 5:07

        Becken, i agree totally – why do Hamilton’s activities have to be defined in terms of other drivers? Anyway, i noted the same for Schumacher and recently Lance Armstrong – i am starting to think its inevitable for super achievers to attract lots of snide remarks from loosers. Somebody should get a phd out this phenomenon.

        • David A said on 28th July 2009, 21:36

          Agreed, NDINYO. I’m a devoted Ferrari fan, but I still admire Hamilton. It’s like they didn’t see Hamilton wish Massa well in that video posted on this website.

    • wasiF1 said on 29th July 2009, 3:03

      Guys I doesn”t wanted to hurt anybody.Its simply I was saying at that moment it was not sure what was Massa condition,so I posted that comment.As far as Becken is concerned I love Lewis that he won the race that will take points away from Brawn & open up the championship nicely so dont misunderstand me.

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