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.

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

  1. Dean said on 31st July 2011, 19:59

    As much as i will say congrats to Button on a great sucesss in Hungry, the fact is is was a little bit lucky to win this race because the McLaren team made a huge error sending Lewis out on the wrong tires when he was well in Front.This is a simple fact which if you play the tape of the race again you will see that Im 100% right.Button can never beat Lewis in a fair race when Lewis is on the same tires as him, and Button does not crash into Hamilton as he did in the Canada Grand Prix.The McLaren team keep making strategy mistakes with Lewis.They have made about 5 mistakes this year.Do you remember a few races ago when they sent him out on the wrong tires in Qualifying,Im sorry to say this, but Lewis should really have won in Hungry because he was more than 5 sconds clear with about 16 laps to go.

    • dirgegirl (@dirgegirl) said on 31st July 2011, 20:18

      The old “lucky Button” fallacy again!

      Button was catching Hamilton on the same tyres… without watching the “tape” again I seem to recall at least two periods of JB reeling LH in by up to a second a lap. It seemed that Hamilton took too much too soon out of his option tyres.

      Admittedly the change to intermediates was a blunder, but not as limiting as say forgetting to attach a tyre at a pitstop. Luck old Button!

      Am unaccountably hungry all of a sudden.

      • dirgegirl (@dirgegirl) said on 31st July 2011, 20:19

        Typical – get picky on Dean’s ass for dropping a letter, then drop a letter myself. Luck*y* old Button.

      • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 31st July 2011, 21:43

        Button would have won today without all of that with Hamilton, I’m pretty sure. He was faster than Hamilton and many others on the same tyres on at least one occasion.

        What today did show, for me, is that Button should really be qualfying like that more often. That’s really the chink in his armour, even on a good day he was still behind Hamilton. If he can get in the top 3 like that then we’ll see more wins from him like today. Awesome stuff.

        • dirgegirl (@dirgegirl) said on 31st July 2011, 23:25

          Yep, agreed – he needs to rediscover his qualifying mojo. He did a fab job in the BAR in days of yore, even when Ferrari/MSC were even more dominant than Red Bull / VET are today.

  2. laird18 said on 31st July 2011, 20:55

    Di Resta once again showing remarkable speed in wet conditions.

    In Canada he shot up to 5th and challenged for 4th. In the UK he ran 7th, keeping pace with Button and the front runners. And once again in the wet opening stages at Hungary he was able to keep pace with Webber and pull away from Kobayashi (and the other mid-field drivers) at over a second per lap! When it rained again towards the end he gained advantage once more – overtaking Buemi and Koboyashi, and pulling away for a great points finish! Very happy for him – a well deserved result.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 1st August 2011, 1:55

      I’m glad for him too. Really likeable chap, who has had rather bad luck to be outqualifying Sutil but keep ending up out of the points. He kept it tidy on Sunday and was one of the drivers of the weekend.

  3. Faraz said on 31st July 2011, 20:56

    Another bout of luck for Button, did no one see that even on worse tyres than Button, Hamilton still managed to fight him. Lady annoying Luck pays Button a visit again, if Hamilton and Alonso and various other had not either spun or made wrong choices Button would not have won.Period.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 31st July 2011, 21:29

      Not really a valid point you’re making. That logic can be applied to any race. If certain events don’t happen then chances are the result will always be different. Today was a deserved win for Button.

      Was he the only top driver to not spin at any point today?

    • dirgegirl (@dirgegirl) said on 31st July 2011, 21:40

      From the press conference:

      (Livio Oricchio – O Estado de Sao Paulo): …in 2006 here, last year in Australia and China, this year in Canada and here again today: all races in similar conditions and you won all of them.

      JB: All lucky. Always lucky in these conditions.

      • BBT (@bbt) said on 31st July 2011, 22:02

        Its not luck. As pointed out it happen to often, its called skill, (in the conditions) some people are so confused.

        • Palle (@palle) said on 31st July 2011, 23:27

          Agreed, but Button doesn’t want to say that it is due to skill – but he does seem to be able to read and survive this type of conditions better than the rest. And it seems as if Lewis’ habit of killing his tyres before Button ensures that McLaren can correct any wrong tyre choice for Lewis, when they subsequently change Buttons tyres. In this race RBR made the first right call for Webber, and then Vettel, and McLaren responded to that with Button. For Lewis it was too late – he lost the race, when RBR went for softs instead of Super softs, because he needed one stop more than Vettel.

          • dirgegirl (@dirgegirl) said on 31st July 2011, 23:35

            I’m no mind reader but I assume JB was exhibiting not (just) modesty but irony in the press conference… I mean, every time he wins a race or even outperforms his teammate he’s greeted by the Lucky Button Concerto in E flat.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 1st August 2011, 2:40

      If Hamilton and Alonso and various other had not either spun or made wrong choices Button would not have won

      Should Alonso and Hamilton be spinning? No.

  4. TheVillainF1 said on 31st July 2011, 21:08

    quite hilarious people calling Button lucky, you have very short term memories. Before this win he had 2 DNFs through no fault of his own (pit stop blunder in silverstone; hydraulics in Germany).

    Yea, Button is clearly riding the luck this year huh

    It was a great, smart race from Button, Hamilton’s spin was his own doing, the tire call was unfortunate but it’s a team call. In these conditions, the drivers have the final call on tire choices, Lewis could’ve just as easily told the team he wanted to stay out.

  5. Button ‘Collects’ wins.

  6. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 31st July 2011, 21:27

    Great review, we even got the word ‘conflagration’!

  7. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 31st July 2011, 21:39

    That was an awesome race! I spent the whole day mixing some music with a fellow F1 fan and I didn’t get the whole of certain bits clearly – but that whole incident with Hamilton happened in mute to me :P

    I saw the blue Inters writing next to Hamilton’s name first of all, and then a lap later slicks! And then I saw how far Button had suddenly got ahead…there were certainly plenty of ‘what the hell!?’ expressions throughout as we tried make out what was going on with no sound!

    Apart from Hamilton’s impatient and dangerous spin, I have to say, top driving all round today. The start was brilliant also. Mental how Vettel still got 2nd today. Slightly depressing that even after that win Jensen is 5th in the championship…they’re just taking points off of eachother now!

  8. Palle (@palle) said on 1st August 2011, 0:10

    “The stewards took a dim view of Hamilton’s mve and handed him a drive-through penalty.”
    mve -> move

    Could they have let it pas without a penalty? I think not.

  9. Palle (@palle) said on 1st August 2011, 0:13

    And I also think it is incorrect that Lewis spun victory away. It was already gone by that time, because he had to pit one more time than his pursuers, who were on faster tyres.

  10. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 1st August 2011, 3:03

    One thing for sure if Vettel don’t have too much retirement from here on ,all he need to do is to collect those odd podiums & points,let the other drivers fight among themselves & win his second WC.

    It was a great race with changeable condition.The battle between the Mclaren was the highlights of the race,I love their racing spirit.I wonder how could Hamilton made a mistake but his race was ruined by that spinning error which caused him a drive through.Good thing from Alonso & Vettel staying on the slick despite of rain.& Congrats to Torro Rosso for double point finish in their 100th F1 race.

  11. DVC said on 1st August 2011, 4:36

    Even though he didn’t technically lead a lap, Schumacher was leading at one point – before he made his first stop for slicks. Is this the first time since his comeback?

  12. Scalextric (@scalextric) said on 1st August 2011, 6:24

    JB: The Dampmeister.

    I don’t see how commentators here can say luck when something happens regularly.

  13. Scalextric (@scalextric) said on 1st August 2011, 6:24

    JB: The Dampmeister.

    I don’t see how commentators here can say it’s luck when events like this happen regularly.

  14. Carl said on 7th August 2011, 0:35

    Hammy is first (half)black F1 Champ.

    Could have won more than one championship if it were not for his relentless (bad)luck
    at the hands of HIS pit wall or WELL intentioned race stewards.

    Will go the way of Obama, Woods, and other half blacks.

    Will root for him as a guitar player singer.

  15. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already ;) Cheers!

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