Button claims dramatic win in his 200th Grand Prix

2011 Hungarian GP review

Jenson Button, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2011

Jenson Button, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2011

Jenson Button marked his 200th Grand Prix in perfect style with a well-judged victory in ever-changing conditions.

Team mate Lewis Hamilton led much of the race but a poor tyre call and a drive-through penalty left him off the podium.

That left Sebastian Vettel in second place with an increased championship lead.

Hamilton takes the lead from Vettel

A series of showers before the race meant the whole field started on intermediate tyres on a damp track.

Vettel kept his lead at the start while the two McLarens ran wheel-to-wheel for the first corner, Hamilton coming out ahead.

The McLaren driver pressed him hard through the opening laps, trying on the inside and outside at turn two. Vettel eventually ran wide at the corner and Hamilton was through, instantly pulling out a 2.5 second lead.

Alonso fights his way forward

The Ferrari drivers struggled for traction at turn one and slipped behind the Mercedes pair. Fernando Alonso tried to find a way around the outside of Michael Schumacher on the first lap, eventually getting him at the final corner.

Alonso quickly caught and passed Nico Rosberg as well, but understeered onto the run-off at turn two shortly afterwards, handing the position back.

He set about reeling the Mercedes in again but ran wide a second time, this time at turn 12, falling behind Felipe Massa.

His team mate offered little resistance and Alonso took the place back with ease. Soon he was back on Rosberg’s tail and used the DRS to fly past on the straight.

Shortly before that, Massa ran wide at turn two, placing his wheels on the treacherous wet white line. The Ferrari snapped sideways and Massa skidded backwards into the barrier. The impact was only slight but enough to break part of his rear wing endplate.

Webber wins in switch to slicks

Mark Webber made an early switch to slick tyres. He set the fastest sector time in his out-lap shortly afterwards, showing his change had been well-timed. Massa came in on the same lap, and the other cars quickly followed suit.

Hamilton and Vettel came in on the same lap, the McLaren emerging behind Schumacher, who was yet to stop. Hamilton was briefly held up until Schumacher pitted at the end of the lap.

Button had changed to super-soft tyres one lap before Vettel and was quickly up to speed. He caught Vettel and dived down the inside of the Red Bull for second at turn two.

Further back Webber did exactly the same to Alonso, grabbing fourth place with superior traction as he came out of turn one. On the next lap Webber ran wide at the first corner, but had already pulled enough of a gap over Alonso to keep the place.

Hamilton stretched his legs, building up a lead of 8.6 seconds over his team mate. But towards the end of the stint Button began to catch him again – a tremendous battle was brewing between the two of them.

Hamilton stayed ahead after the front runners took on fresh sets of super-soft tyres. Webber was gradually catching Vettel but Alonso was growing tired of starting at the Red Bull’s rear wing.

He made an early third stop for another set of super-soft tyres which left his rivals wondering how to react. With Alonso back out on soft tyres, lapping over two seconds faster than Hamilton, the leading quartet decided they had to react.

Hamilton took a further set of super-softs while Button and the two Red Bull drivers plumped for softs.

Getting the soft tyres to the end of the race without a further stop looked like a stretch at this point, while Hamilton and Alonso would definitely have to stop again. But a change in the weather meant we wouldn’t discover who got this call right.

Hamilton spins a win away

Fresh rainfall hit the track on lap 47 as Hamilton spun at the chicane. It cost him the lead to Button, but the damage to his race was far greater than that.

Hamilton flicked his car around as Paul di Resta arrived on the scene, and took to the grass as the McLaren skidded in front of him. The stewards took a dim view of Hamilton’s mve and handed him a drive-through penalty.

In the meantime the McLarens scrapped furiously for the lead as the rain began to fall even harder. First Button slithered off at turn two and Hamilton took the lead back.

Then Hamilton ran wide at the final corner and Button took him as they headed into turn one. But at the very next corner Button went wide again and Hamilton was back through into the lead.

While all this was going on the McLaren drivers were in discussion with the pit wall on whether to switch to intermediate tyres. Initially, the team told both to come in which would have meant Button queueing behind Hamilton.

But as the lap neared an end the team decided not to bring Button in. Hamilton, struggling to hear his instructions with a faulty radio, did pit for intermediate tyres, which proved to be a crucial error.

He was not alone in making the mistake. Webber also switched to intermediates and, like Hamilton, had to return for more slick tyres. Hamilton was further delayed by his drive-through penalty, and ended up behind Webber in sixth.

Hamilton squeezes past Webber

Button and Vettel survived the rain shower on their soft tyres. Alonso appeared in third, despite needing another pit stop for soft tyres and spinning off again at turn 12. That might have kept him from catching Vettel, who also went off at turn two during the rain shower.

Massa held fourth until the recovering Webber and Hamilton arrived on his tail. Webber blasted past with his DRS open on lap 58, and Hamilton followed him through at the chicane. Massa came in for his fourth and final pit stop soon afterwards.

Hamilton kept up his pursuit of Webber and was well-placed to take advantage of the clutch of traffic they caught on lap 64. Facing the classic problem of lapping cars that were busy passing each other, Webber was held up by Kamui Kobayashi at turn 11, and Hamilton pounced, squeezing down the inside at turn 12.

Webber kept Hamilton in sight over the closing laps but wasn’t able to take his place back and that was how they finished, with Massa in sixth place.

Heidfeld’s bonfire

Di Resta claimed ‘best of the rest’ honours with seventh, one lap down, after passing Kobayashi late in the race. Sebastien Buemi also took the Sauber for eighth place having started 23rd.

But team mate Jaime Alguersuari’s attempt to follow him past the Sauber ended in contact. That left the other Toro Rosso tenth, one place behind Nico Rosberg, another driver who switched to intermediate tyres late on.

Kobayashi abandoned his attempt to finish the race with just two pit stops and recovered to take 11th ahead of Vitaly Petrov, who finished where he started.

He had a better race than team mate Nick Heidfeld who spent the early part of the race stuck behind Heikki Kovalainen and Adrian Sutil. His Renault caught fire in the pits and he drove the smouldering car out onto the track.

In similar scenes to his fire during practice in Barcelona, Heidfeld leapt from his car as the left-hand sidepod became engulfed in fire. There was even a small explosion as the marshals brought the conflagration under control.

Rubens Barrichello finished 13th for Williams ahead of Sutil, who went off at the chicane on the first lap, and Perez, who fell from tenth to 20th on lap one. The other Williams of Pastor Maldonado was 16th following a drive-through penalty for pit lane speeding.

Timo Glock brought his Virgin home 17th in front of Daniel Ricciardo. The HRT driver led Jerome D’Ambrosio and Vitantonio Liuzzi home in his third race.

Schumacher retired shortly after spinning while being passed by Massa, and both Lotuses dropped out during the race.

A jubilant Button crossed the line to record his second victory of the year in his milestone race. But second place for Vettel increases his championship advantage to 85 points.

In the absence of a consistent championship rival, it is a lead which will surely prove unassailable.

2011 Hungarian Grand Prix

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80 comments on Button claims dramatic win in his 200th Grand Prix

  1. A quite excellent race with lots happening at both ends of the field.

    And that is why the Hungaroring deserves its place on the calendar.

    • Nik said on 31st July 2011, 17:37

      “And that is why the Hungaroring deserves its place on the calendar.”

      Shhh don’t let Bernie hear that or he’ll scrap it next year.

  2. suka (@suka) said on 31st July 2011, 17:31

    Ferrari’s had no traction. The race would have been more interesting with them in the mix cause they would have bumped RBR down the grid.
    After all, rule change on the engine mapping and diffusers did afect where Ferrari stands: 3rd guickest.

    • suka (@suka) said on 31st July 2011, 17:32

      By the way, personal (if that means something) congrats to Button. He astonished me with his cool after a couple of bad races.

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 31st July 2011, 18:44

      I don’t think they’re 3rd quickest. Even it is true, I think they’re quite close to Red Bull. Vettel and Button didn’t made any mistake and Mclaren has the pace so Button is finished ahead of Vettel. However, as you know Alonso and Ferrari made wrong decision on the option tyre and they were losing lots of time then. But they didn’t made further mistakes like Hamilton and Webber so Alonso snatched 3rd and at the end of the race, his pace was definitely better than Vettel. We all know Alonso steadily challenged to Webber. So it’s hardly 3rd quickest. Actually I think Ferrari was faster than Red Bull through the race and Mclaren was the fastest for sure.

      • suka (@suka) said on 31st July 2011, 20:52

        I guess you’re right. Tyre choice could go either way but in my view, they did struggle for the first part of the race like the 3rd quickest.

      • kowalsky said on 31st July 2011, 21:30

        alonso poor qualy cost him dearly. If you look at his saturday performance in the past, nothing has changed,he is not the best qualifier the world has ever seen, and now it’s even harder for him to get those positions back during the races.
        The last two races he had a car capable to win, but he didn’t. Some would say he is the driver who made more points during july, but i would say, had ayrton senna been in that ferrari, vettel wouldn’t be sleeping so well during the summer brake.

    • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 31st July 2011, 21:20

      That’s quite surprising actually. I remember last year in particular that was one of Ferrari’s strengths.

  3. slr said on 31st July 2011, 17:31

    I couldn’t see Hamilton losing it before the second rain shower, but as proven many times in the past, anything can happen in Formula One.

    • Jake said on 31st July 2011, 17:51

      I think he lost it when the team put on the 3rd set of options instead of primes. Possibly could have still got second without the spin and change to inters, but the win was gone.

      • Tim said on 31st July 2011, 18:06

        Not necessarily. If Hamilton had gone for primes over options, he might not have spun – but McLaren would have probably still gone for intermediates when the rain came.

        • timi said on 31st July 2011, 19:37

          but theoretically if he was on the primes over the options, he definitely would have spun because they already have less grip than the options..

          • Tim said on 31st July 2011, 20:34

            If he’d been on the primes he wouldn’t have needed to push as hard, as he would’ve been able to go to the end.

          • BBT (@bbt) said on 31st July 2011, 21:49

            ..at the time he spun he was losing time to the primes, hence over driving and spinning, the tyres were shot.

        • Skett said on 1st August 2011, 0:57

          Would they have? In their position I would have told them to do the exact same thing. The simple fact was that he had to pit again anyway, so they may aswell take the risk and stick him on inters, if it works he’ll fly back up to everyone, if it doesn’t they lose little since there was a big gap back from 6th anyway (and Webber did the same thing)

  4. suka (@suka) said on 31st July 2011, 17:36

    Hamilton, IMO arguably the best “racer” today, should with no offence, take a few advise from Button.

    • TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 31st July 2011, 17:38

      Change his style? We all said that after Monaco then just last week we were praising him for it after his win in Germany.

      People change their mind every race with Hamilton and Button’s driving.

      • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 31st July 2011, 21:32

        Both drivers styles win them races that have resulted in championships…unfortunately not everyone can grasp that point.

      • suka (@suka) said on 1st August 2011, 10:15

        Didn’t mean to change his style, just to add a few Button like traits. Still, he’s grown considerably in the way he fought back to 4th.
        I am an F1 fan (I believe), not a particular driver fan so I try to be as objective as possible.

    • Jake said on 31st July 2011, 18:10

      i don’t there’s much he could learn from Button today. He was the fastest in the Wet and had it under control in the dry until the wrong call to put him on super-softs. He was unfortunate to be the first to come across the rain and spun, but was quick enough to get back in the lead. He was again unfortunate with the switch to inters – no one expected the rain to stop then and the track was wet enough for inters on the previous lap. Then he was given an arguably harsh penalty, and it was his racer ability that got him past Webber up to 4th. Not a great day, but considering the bad fortune, he kept calm and bought home some decent points, which could yet prove crucial in both the WDC and the WCC, especially with Mclaren appearing to have the fastest car.

      • BBT (@bbt) said on 31st July 2011, 21:52

        “the track was wet enough for inters on the previous lap”

        No it was not, it was 3 seconds faster on primes than inters even on the previous lap.

    • Simon said on 31st July 2011, 18:30

      Button’s strength certainly seems to be getting these kind of calls right more often that not. Whilst he’s quick in those conditions, it’s the calls rather than outright speed that tends to give him the advantage (IMO).

      I wonder whether it is down to his sensitivity with the car / track (he talks a lot more than most about grip / balance issues in the dry) that gives him that intuitive decision making in changable conditions…?

      Having said all that, we are talking about extremely marginal calls – soft vs super soft is only an easy call with the benefit of hindsight. Dry vs inter was the same at that point in the race, espcially with Hamilton knowing he had to pit again anyway.

      Ignoring the drive through for a moment – if it continues to rain for a lap or 2 more after Hamilton pitted, he’s made a great call. If it stops (as it did), then he looks foolish and Button has made a great call. That’s how thin the margins are.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 31st July 2011, 21:15

      The thing that turned Hamilton’s race bad was the bad tyre choice in his pitstop and then the desicion to go for inters.

  5. TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 31st July 2011, 17:37

    Best quote from Brundle “I’m beginning to think the Sauber drivers have to pay for their own tyres”. Seriously though, when will they go for a normal strategy?

    Happy with the double points finish for Toro Rosso, great drive from Buemi. Good to see Ricciardo beat his highly praised team mate in only his 3rd F1 race too.

    Almost forgotten about the title now, just watch each race at a time as they are all so brilliant. Minus Valencia every race has been an absolute cracker.

    For me, any other season this would be the “classic” race of the year but I’d probably have to go 4th behind China, Canada and Monaco.

    What an awesome year.

    • Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 31st July 2011, 17:55

      Seriously though, when will they go for a normal strategy?

      I really don’t see why they should. it’s clear they’re often going this way because it’s in the characteristics of their car to be easy on the tires. And it has often paid off. Lack or gain in pure pace and development over other teams is unlikely to change the inner basics of the car.

      To me this seems to be just a bad race strategy-wise in an otherwise very good season for them. And given the track rollercoast evolution, and most of all the very slim gap in compound performance this Sunday (which they strongly rely on to deliver in the race) as opposed to what has been seen on practice and QLF, the outcome could not be a real sign of regress in the pecking order after all.

      [Copy and paste from a relevant comment of mine elsewhere. I’m not english so arranging another wording just for the sake of it it’s difficult for me. I didn’t read that as a break in Comment Policy. If that is not appreciated on F1F, just let me know.]

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 31st July 2011, 18:15

      It’s working for them. Surely they know it’s the only way to beat the Force Indias and get in the mix with Mercedes sometimes.

  6. Adrian Morse said on 31st July 2011, 17:44

    Hamilton was supreme in the first part of the race, up until halfway through the first stint on slicks. From then on Button could just got more speed and longevity out of the Pirellis.

    Hamilton spins a win away

    I don’t agree with this. Hamilton had to stop again anyway, because I do not believe he could have made his final set of super softs lasts until the end of the race. Even without his spin and change to inters, he would have come out behind Vettel, and could have tried to fight for second on slightly newer tyres.

    In hindsight, Hamilton’s best chance of a win was to do two stints on the soft tyre (so after the first on super softs), although his pace in the final stint on softs was disappointing.

  7. Icthyes said on 31st July 2011, 17:50

    Wow, it couldn’t stop going wrong for Hamilton!

    Wrong tyre call, spin, silly corrective spin, broken radio meant pitting for inters. With a drive-through he still finished 4th!

    Shame as we could have clung onto vain hopes of a protracted championship. Now, forget it.

    Disappointed by Ferrari too but Alonso should have kept it on the road.

    • Ral (@ral) said on 31st July 2011, 17:57

      I think that was Alonso putting his money where his mouth is and just pushing as hard as he could and consequently getting it wrong a couple of times. Today, on this track, these conditions were his best chance of getting a good result. And to be fair to him, even with the wrong tyre call, he still managed to get one because McLaren/Hamilton made the same mistake and Hamilton also pushed a tad too hard.

    • megaman said on 31st July 2011, 18:07

      I am massive mclaren and hammy fan, the result was great for the team and most of all it seems that mclaren have made massive steps forwards in catching the rb’s, despite not having the perfect 1-2 result they should have, at least they are back in contention for the championship, alot of people are writing this season off for vettels favour and a few pieces in the bbc coverage suggested seb was just being cool and collecting points, i think rb is struggling against mclaren pace , remember when brawn dominated the first half of 2009, then remember the second half i for one have not give up hope!!

  8. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 31st July 2011, 18:07

    When Hamilton spun off, I had just closed my eyes (I didn’t have much sleep last night). The cameras were showing some battle and BANG! Brundle goes on fumes as Button and Vettel were right on Lewis’ gearbox.

    I wondered for a couple of seconds if it was just an incident the cameras didn’t show or if I had just fell asleep and missed half the race! Very weird feeling!

  9. Eggry (@eggry) said on 31st July 2011, 18:30

    Not a prefer result but still exciting race. The thing is, even though Vettel managed to get 2nd place, Red Bull struggled where they were at the pick of the advantage last year. I don’t believe title battle will be meaningful but races themselves will be pretty interesting. Let’s see what Ferrari and Mclaren can do.

  10. Fixy (@fixy) said on 31st July 2011, 18:34

    I though Schumacher was having a good race, until after the pit stop he came back 9th. Not even in these conditions can a driver from a non-top-3 team finish on the podium, sadly.

    • Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 31st July 2011, 18:41

      It was very nice to see him leading! (Although it probably doesn’t statistically count.)

      • Statistically, it does actually count, I think. He was shown as P1 for that lap.

        • Stefanauss (@stefanauss) said on 1st August 2011, 12:21

          As far as i know, it does not count that the TV graphics showed him as P1 when Hamilton was closing on him.
          You have to actually cross the finish line in P1, and i don’t think that happened. It didn’t show up in live timing on F1.com, for instance.

          Of course, the feeling remains: Michael Schumacher was in the lead of a Grand Prix for the first time since his comeback.

    • slr said on 31st July 2011, 18:47

      It’s a shame that the gap between the top three teams and the rest is so big. It’s like the opposite of 2009, not as many good races, but many more surprise results.

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 31st July 2011, 19:00

      Top 3 are just too quick. They are really pushing hard. Well, it’s good to see 3 way frontrunner battle but last year at least we had Kubica and Nico podiums several times. Thus yeat they’re simply gone. Even Massa can’t managed to get on podium.

  11. Eddy said on 31st July 2011, 18:34

    Great race by Button, i really wanted Hamilton to win but the tyres ****** him up.

    Im a Mclaren fan, they are fun to watch, there are not team orders and favorising drivers, like RedBull and Ferrari (felipe, alonso is faster then u). I like the Hamilton’s driving style, agressive and risky, if he didn’t had that he wouldnt overtake Webber on the 65’th lap. And that spinning in the middle of the track around drivers, you need steel balls for that. Nice one Button and Hamilton!

  12. HounslowBusGarage (@hounslowbusgarage) said on 31st July 2011, 19:16

    Here’s a quote from JB on the BBC site
    “Coming here I just got my head down and focused,” said Button.

    “I have to beat Seb in every race from now on, and we’ll go out and try and do just that.”

    Unfortunately beating Seb won’t be enough, I think JB will have to take him out every race from now on!
    Good to see JB on the top step again.

  13. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 31st July 2011, 19:42

    What’s really nice to see is that McLaren could beat Red Bull on a track that was meant to be a Red Bull track. So now, it’s clear that McLaren have the downforce that can match Red Bull and have the speed/power advantage for tracks such as Monza and Spa.

    In fact, I have a feeling that McLaren, and possibly Ferrari as well will be able to beat Red Bull in Qualifying in Spa and Monza, as they did last year, which could force Vettel into a position we saw him in at the Nurburgring, possibly even worse.

    It’ll be difficult, but there’s every hope of turning this Championship on its head :)

  14. 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 31st July 2011, 19:46

    As long as Vettel can stay out of trouble at Spa and Monza, whilst maintaining the lead at 75+pts, he’ll be all but done

    • VXR said on 31st July 2011, 20:00

      Vettel actually increased his lead today. Not a bad days work at the office for the 2011 WDC.

  15. alexf1man said on 31st July 2011, 19:54

    Button’s 11th win, tied with former team mate Barrichello as well as Massa (I think).

    Has anyone prior to today, other than Massa (Valencia 2008, 100th start) won in a milestone race?

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