Hamilton resists Raikkonen for Hungary win

2012 Hungarian Grand Prix review

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2012Lewis Hamilton bounced back from a trio of poor races with victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

He resisted pressure from both Lotus drivers – first Romain Grosjean, then Kimi Raikkonen, the latter crossing the finish line just one second behind the McLaren.

False start

The first attempt at starting the race was abandoned for reasons that remain unclear.

The drivers were sent around for another formation lap but Michael Schumacher had already switched his engine off to preserve it – a mistake which consigned him to the back of the grid for the restart. The race distance was correspondingly cut from 70 laps to 69.

At the second time of asking Hamilton got away cleanly and quickly – too quickly for the first corner, where he ran a little wide, losing some of his instant advantage.

Sebastian Vettel had a run at Grosjean at the first corner but the Lotus driver took care to close him down. That allowed Jenson Button to take advantage, passing Vettel for third.

Bruno Senna had made a good start and was briefly up to sixth. But Fernando Alonso out-dragged him from the first corner and so did Mark Webber – who made excellent progress from 11th on the grid despite being the only driver in the top 20 on the medium compound tyres.

Alonso then nipped past Raikkonen, the Lotus driver having lost KERS charge at the start. Raikkonen had a similar problem in practice and the team reminded him what he needed to do to clear the problem, but he faced an opening stint stuck behind the Ferrari driver.

Grosjean gives chase

Hamilton drew away from Grosjean in the opening laps, pulling out a gap of just over two seconds. Behind them Button dropped back more quickly and was over five seconds adrift after a dozen laps.

Sebastian Vettel was close behind the McLaren with the Alonso-Raikkonen battle a further three seconds back, pursued by Webber.

Even at this early stage McLaren were contemplating switching Button to a three-stop strategy. They briefly discussed it on the radio before Button came in on the 15th lap.

Vettel responded two laps later and returned to the track behind Button. He was followed in by Alonso, but the Ferrari driver resumed behind the yet-to-stop Perez, losing some time behind the Sauber before out-accelerating him on the approach to turn four.

This played into Raikkonen’s hands, and Lotus could afford to both leave him out and lengthen his strategy, while being sure of gaining a place over Alonso.

This he did after the lead pair had made their first pit stops, Hamilton first on lap 18, followed by Grosjean the next time by.

Grosjean went after Hamilton in a big way at the beginning of his second stint, taking up to eight-tenths of a second out of the McLaren at times.

By lap 25 he was within DRS range of Hamilton but a scruffy final sector followed by a mistake at turn one cost him much of the ground he had gained. He got his head down and reduced the deficit to under a second once more.

But, like pretty much everyone else on the track, he found it impossible to get close enough even to have a look at the car in front, let alone make a move.

This was especially frustrating Vettel, stuck behind third-placed Button, who urged his team “you have to do something”. In the end it was not Red Bull who solved his problem, but McLaren.

They finally succumbed to the temptation to three-stop Button – “Plan B” as they called it – expecting that he would be able to pass cars more easily on fresher tyres. That proved not to be the case. Button almost immediately got stuck behind Senna, and was unable to pass the Williams.

Lotus vs Lotus

Vettel came out of the pits ahead of Senna and Button. Grosjean appeared in front of him shortly afterwards as the Lotus driver made his final stop on lap 40. But Alonso was not ready to pit yet, and he played a decisive role at this point as Grosjean and Vettel were held up behind the Ferrari.

Raikkonen had taken over the lead and was pumping in rapid laps while the cars he had been behind were delayed by Alonso. After Alonso pitted his team could see he had a chance of coming out ahead of Grosjean.

While one side of the Lotus pitwall was urging Raikkonen to pull out quick sectors, the other was warning Grosjean about the threat ahead. Raikkonen came into the pits, and as he came out his race engineer advised him to deploy KERS on the way out of the pits, while Grosjean’s advised him Raikkonen was about to appear alongside.

They entered turn one side-by-side, Raikkonen on the inside. Grosjean briefly had his nose ahead and might have forced the issue, but he took to the run-off and ceded second place to Raikkonen.

That probably saved Lotus an awkward decision as Raikkonen, having pitted later, was much faster and began reeling in Hamilton. “Kimi will be catching us with fresher tyres but it’s hard to overtake here,” came the voice on his radio. “We can do this.”

That proved an accurate assessment. Even with slightly fresher tyres Raikkonen was unable to attack Hamilton. With ten laps to go, Raikkonen told his team his only hope was if Hamilton’s tyres went off.

Hamilton clinches second win

Hamilton drew away from Raikkonen slightly towards the end of the race, the pair trading sector times until the chequered flag. Their final laps were almost identical, and after 69 laps of racing there was just a second between them.

The McLaren driver claimed his third victory at the Hungaroring and his second win of 2012.

Red Bull also opted for the three-stop approach for both their cars. Vettel was able to get in and out without losing fourth place but didn’t have enough time to catch Grosjean despite taking two seconds per lap out of the Lotus. He finished one second behind, needing that extra lap which was cut from the race distance to launch an attack for the final podium place.

If for Vettel it was a case of “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, Webber lost out badly with his final stop. He came in fifth, resumed eighth and stayed there. Like Button he found Senna’s Williams impossible to pass, his cause not helped by a problem with his differential.

Button had managed to leapfrog the Williams but was frustrated to finish sixth having run third.

Maldonado penalised

Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg completed the points-scorers with the Force India pair outside of the points. Pastor Maldonado was 13th after a drive-through penalty for pushing Paul di Resta wide at turn 12.

A poor race for Sauber ended with Sergio Perez 14th and Kamui Kobayashi in the pits, classified 18th. Daniel Ricciardo led home Jean-Eric Vergne again with Heikki Kovalainen also between the two Saubers.

An early spin left Timo Glock 21st behind Vitaly Petrov and Charles Pic. Pedro de la Rosa finished last after Narain Karthikeyan suffered an alarming suspension failure late in the race.

Alonso consolidates lead

Alonso emerged from another race of damage limitation with an increased championship lead of 40 points. But it’s clear Ferrari are still up against it on raw pace.

The second half of the season will be about whether any of his championship rivals can start scoring points regularly enough to give him some competition.

2012 Hungarian Grand Prix

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101 comments on Hamilton resists Raikkonen for Hungary win

  1. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 29th July 2012, 16:26

    I wonder what happened with Michael at the start. I never heard of a driver deliberately switching his engine off during a Grand Prix unless something’s wrong.

    Also, (conspirancy theory coming up) did Alonso deliberately stay out on track to let Kimi stay ahead of Vettel? if he did, he’s a fricking genious that man. And with Red Bull then pitting Webber, he gained a lot more. Not sure it was on purpose, but it was interesting to see the outcome of it!

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 29th July 2012, 16:28

      Another chapter for Red Bull pitting Webber in the end. Really? on a track like this? they shot themselves in the face with that, Webber could’ve finished 5th.

      • Eggry (@eggry) said on 29th July 2012, 16:35

        for sure Red Bull don’t know to provide good strategy when Webber is not in front even though they know when it’s Vettel. How many times Vettel recovered from around top 10 grid while Webber is always stuck behind traffic.

      • Puzzled by this as well. I mean, it’s obvious they were aiming for a strategy similar to Vettel’s – put their drivers out on fresh tires aprox. 10 laps before the end of the race assuming they will lap +2 sec. faster than everyone else and make up for the pitstop and a bit more. And that worked as we saw Vettel in Grosjean’s slipstream over the finish line.

        What’s confusing to me is why Webber couldn’t pull off what Vettel did. He was a bit held up by Senna – let’s call it that, but still doesn’t explain the considerable lack of pace compared to his team mate.

        Plus, his tires couldn’t have hit the cliff already as almost everyone managed comparable stints on them. In this case yeah, a smarter bet would have been to keep Mark on track given the increased passing difficulty here. He may have lost a position or two but it could have turned out better for him than 8th…

        Signing with Red Bull might have brought the “mantain the gap” days back…

        • dkpioe said on 29th July 2012, 17:41

          they expectected the mediums to only last 25 laps, and not 30 and were hoping the others infront to have tyre problems. i especially expected hamilton not to last 30 laps knowing his history with tyre management. but this turned out false as many drivers did long last stints and that left webber further back.

      • AD (@ad) said on 29th July 2012, 21:44

        Incredibly, Webber is often pitted when he has a chance to run in clean air which is exactly what the Red Bull needs, and released behind a slower car which hold Webber up as the Red Bull has such low straight-line speed. Of all the bad pit stop strategies this year, this was the absolute worst!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 29th July 2012, 17:06

      @fer-no65 Some rumours on Twitter Schumacher actually did cause the aborted start by not stopping correctly on the grid.

  2. sumedh said on 29th July 2012, 16:31

    Keith, your report was more interesting than the race itself :). Just a small correction. It should be ‘Grosjean’ here.

    Gropsjean appeared in front of him shortly

  3. Eggry (@eggry) said on 29th July 2012, 16:31

    Great drive from Hamilton. Reasonable damage control from Alonso. Grosjean could have done better but it’s still good result. I’m not sure Lotus already solved tyre temp problem. Unless, they can’t be serious contender.(at least for driver’s title) We will check it the next race.

    For now, Alonso and Hamilton would be main contender. Alonso has points lead, Hamilton has performance ground. Let’s wait and see how Ferrari respond to rivals. They need significant performance improvement if they want to give Alonso third title.

    also when it comes to constructor’s title, I think Ferrari would be hard to recover 2nd or 3rd place. It’s time to change Massa to someone if they already decided to drop him in 2013. Massa’s future would be decided in Spa or Monza…

    • Solo (@solo) said on 29th July 2012, 16:57

      Hamilton doesn’t have that much performance ground. If you noticed the Red Bull and Lotus actually had better race pace when in free air.
      As about Ferrari, maybe they are slightly slower but maybe not as much as they showed today. This track quite possibly just didn’t suit them.

      • Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 29th July 2012, 17:09

        Don’t know if I necessarily agree with that @solo . Vettel was quicker than Button, but they were on Option and Prime respectively. Hamilton had the pace on Grosjean in the first and second stint, so much so he felt his tyres were ‘fine’ at the end of each. Hamilton was definitely slower on his second set of Primes, which allowed Raikkonen to close the gap so easily, but this may have been just managing the tyres/fuel. Overall I think they are about even on pace really. RBR have definitely lost some pace from the ban on their exotic engine maps, and Mclaren have gained a lot from their huge upgrade package.

      • Eggry (@eggry) said on 29th July 2012, 17:27

        @solo I think Hamilton just controlled the pace, not lack of pace.

        • David BR2 said on 29th July 2012, 17:38

          After the race he said that he allowed the Lotuses to catch up in some corners to try to cause them tyre problems, using KERS (?) to make sure he was further ahead in the last three. Maybe that actually worked on Grosjean who seemed to suffer more than Raikkonen behind Hamilton.

          • JCost (@jcost) said on 29th July 2012, 17:41

            That’s interesting.

          • Eggry (@eggry) said on 29th July 2012, 17:54

            I think it can be true but not sure it affected Grosjean’s pace. He never far behind Hamilton first 2 stints when he was 2nd and then he stuck behind Alonso, lose some seconds then Kimi out in front of him. so It’s hardly Hamilton’s work. If it’s the case, Actually it worked to Kimi who lost pace advantage in last several laps.

      • BBT (@bbt) said on 29th July 2012, 17:28

        Button was also gaining on Hamilton before they pitted him to go to plan B, that was a really old decision, from 8 seconds down to about 6 seconds then pitting…. odd. Ensured that there was not two Mclarens on the podium.

        • David BR2 said on 29th July 2012, 17:42

          Not so odd if Button was using up the last of his tyres before pitting. Also McLaren might have been using him to see whether a 3-stop would be better. Even if they wanted to prefer Hamilton, which isn’t the case, it would make more sense to have Button ahead of Alonso by the end of the race.

          • According to his post race interview, his tyres were fine, and he was puzzled why McLaren pitted him when they did for the second and third stops.

          • David BR2 said on 29th July 2012, 19:36

            I’m not saying McLaren didn’t get it wrong, just that it wasn’t to protect Hamilton – if that’s what @bbt was suggesting. I don’t know why Button (or Webber) pitted either, maybe just a case of following the lead of others in case a 3-stop won the race, though it did look unlikely.

          • BBT (@bbt) said on 29th July 2012, 19:39

            Its odd they got it so wrong, OK maybe not that odd.

            As @nigel1 states he said there was nothing wrong with the tyres and he was catching those in front while keeping Vettel behind. I think they watched Vettel and missed the bigger picture. A few more laps and he would of cleared Senna easily if they really wanted to do three stops. Really bad call for Button, which seemed obvious from TV but maybe not so in the heat of battle. Of course they have much more data in there hands, maybe too much. ;-)

          • BBT (@bbt) said on 30th July 2012, 7:30

            I didn’t mean they were protecting Hamilton, I can see how you could read it that way but its not what I meant.

          • David BR2 said on 30th July 2012, 12:04

            @bbt I understood this time round! I know what you mean about too much info, my guess though is that all the teams were wondering if the 2-stoppers would run out of tyre in the last few laps, as we’ve seen a few times this year. I also thought Hamilton looked okay to stay out a few more before his second stop, his times were OK and he’d have been less vulnerable at the end, but in fact they brought him in spot on to avoid traffic.

      • infy (@infy) said on 29th July 2012, 17:34

        I think qualifying was the best example of pure pace. We have seen race after race that the leader will go as slow as possible, almost always creating a train behind him in order to maintain the lead while looking after the tires better than those behind (they are in dirty air).

        Lewis showed before his pitstops and at the end of the race that if he wanted, he could go a lot faster.

        • dkpioe said on 29th July 2012, 17:51

          i think you are wrong, look at the first few races of the year, mclaren were way faster then ferrari, renault and redbull in qualifying, but not so in the race. what has changed? nothing, mclaren are again fast in qualifying, but race pace was similar with renault and redbull. they are still not leading the championship when they should be if you go by their qualifying pace. you could hear on the mclaren radio they were worried about tyre wear and considered putting hamilton on a 3 stopper, i dont think hamilton is as smart as alonso in controlling a race lead, the team was genuinly worried he would again chew up his tyres. When Lewis stepped on the gas to go faster at the end of the race, raikonnen went with him, all it showed was the racetrack allowed for no overtaking, raikonnen was faster in the second half of the race, but on a track like this a high qualifying position rewards, and lotus need to fix their qualifying as they are often the fastest team in the race.

        • Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 29th July 2012, 18:27

          @infy Exactly. Can’t remember who said it, but the winner is the person who can lead whilst going as slowly as possible!

          • Mark (@marlarkey) said on 29th July 2012, 19:24

            In other words… the person who wins is the best racer as opposed to simply the one who can lap fastest with all the conditions in their favour.

            This is what makes this season so interesting…

          • infy (@infy) said on 29th July 2012, 20:28

            @marlarkey , the leader also has it easier both in the long run and short term and does not necessarily need a faster car to maintain his lead. As soon as you are in the dirty air, you lose down-force. The closer you get to the car ahead, the more you begin compensating for the loss of down-force by using more mechanical grip, which spends your exhaustible rubber at a much quicker rate than the car ahead. For that reason the drivers ahead will try their best to slow down in order to keep you in that difficult situation.

            A bit deceptive for the viewers as it makes it seem as if things are closer than they really are :P

  4. icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 29th July 2012, 16:35

    and in Stuttgart, Mercedes AMG Petronas is preparing the script for the press:

    “Now we have to look forwards and do our maximum at the next race. we will keep working very hard. Spa will suit the W03 better”

  5. auto_freak (@auto_freak) said on 29th July 2012, 16:46

    Lewis was great today, looked and was the fastest throughout the complete weekend. Pretty dominant whereas his team-mate wasn’t really upto the pace in such a good car. Kimi deserves praises too, he drove very well to charge so much forward. Vettel was cranky but his usual self. I like it when all the cars are similar in pace and also enjoyed how Lewis had answers for both Kimi and Grosjean whenever they came close to a second behind him. I know it’s hard to overtake here but the Renaults could have easily been a second faster than Lewis on clear air. So it’s vital for both Lotus drivers to try and secure pole in the upcoming races as long as they remain competitive.

    • David BR2 said on 29th July 2012, 19:06

      Lotus definitely look a bit ominous, maybe the fastest car during the race, two fine drivers.
      Kimi win at Spa, probably his favourite track? If that happens, WDC number two may even start to loom. Even the chance would be amazing.

  6. timi (@timi) said on 29th July 2012, 16:47

    The two best drivers are the only two with more than one race win this season.. :p

  7. de Hooch said on 29th July 2012, 16:49

    Kimi most consistent of all except Alonso.
    McLaren Fastest car, somehow soft tyre faring much better on the McL now.

    Poor quali for Kimi cooked his race win. But he got the best possible result in the second fastest car. Most satisfying: he put the feisty young pup in his place with a masterful exit from the pitlane. Loved it.

    • Himmat Singh. said on 29th July 2012, 17:49

      You sir, have a brilliant sense of humour. Either that or poor English.

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 29th July 2012, 19:28

      How do you measure fastest car though? Over a one lap low fuel qualifying lap or over a race lap? In qualifying Hamilton’s McLaren was clearly fastest, but in the race the Lotus was clearly much faster.

      • OOliver said on 30th July 2012, 0:14

        EXactly.
        Lotus can maintain a very fast average speed all through the race, Mclaren have a slower average speed, but a good one lap wonder. If Lotus start in front or race in a more overtaking friendly track, they will win races.

      • F1fanNL (@) said on 30th July 2012, 1:28

        Was it? Or was Hamilton controlling the race and making sure he would still have the tyres to fend off any attacks.

        We’ll never know.

  8. west (@west) said on 29th July 2012, 16:50

    Out standing record FP1 = 1 FP2=1 FP3=2 Race=win so all weekend it was just one man and that’s hamilton he was very focus all weekend.

  9. David BR2 said on 29th July 2012, 16:54

    Two-stop Hamilton. Not bad for a driver who can’t look after his tyres.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 29th July 2012, 17:44

      His performance in Spain earlier this year showed that he can nurse his tyres.

      • David BR2 said on 29th July 2012, 18:06

        Sorry, I was being heavily ironic, which seldom works!

        I think Hamilton learnt to handle tyre degradation well from some time last season. What he seems to have added this season is consistency. It’s worth remembering that last year Hamilton effectively lost the team. That was more serious than people realized maybe. McLaren must have said to him: yes you’re quicker, but Jenson is consistent. That almost made Button number one driver, at least in terms of development and strategy. Hamilton’s response has definitely been to play safer, not only to try to stack up more points (observing in passing that it isn’t by any means certain playing safe means more points) but especially to ensure he’s ahead of Button. He seems to be achieving his aim. I just wonder whether the older, more reckless Hamilton might be needed at the very end of the season to snatch an improbable victory or two, or whether that Hamilton still exists.

        • OOliver said on 30th July 2012, 3:25

          You are right but only partially so. It was a 50 – 50 thing last year. The team was letting him down via strategy, which resulted in him trying too hard and crashing.
          It takes far more than pressing your foot down on the pedal to achieve good performance. The whole team support structure wasn’t there last season.
          The team made a lot of strategic blunders that always got him falling back towards Massa, most times, and then other mistakes were trying to get him to run a setup that didn’t maximize the top speed advantage of the Mercedes engines all in the name of duplicating Redbull’s strategy, such as at Monza and Spa.
          This year, his only mistake so far was to assume, Maldonado to be a rational driver, apart from that, the team has cost him the lead of the championship.
          Mclaren need to find that harmony between their drivers and the engineering team.
          They shouldn’t always draw inspiration from their race simulator.

    • dkpioe said on 29th July 2012, 17:59

      i think the majority of the time he is more bad then good at looking after his tyres compared to other drivers on the grid. otherwise he would have many more wins this year considering his qualifying pace.

      • David BR2 said on 29th July 2012, 18:13

        I think that actually comes down to the car’s problems under racing conditions (see Button: far worse tyre problems in some races) and the number of mistakes the team made earlier in the season, forcing Hamilton to waste tyres playing catch up from further down the field.

      • timi (@timi) said on 29th July 2012, 18:52

        @dkpioe Go through each of this season’s race lap charts and you’ll see he’s sorted his tyre wear problems, he usually pits at the same time as his nearest rivals, +/- one lap.

    • Malibu_GP said on 29th July 2012, 18:26

      @DavidBR2 I believe that myth has been dispelled.

    • Broom (@brum55) said on 29th July 2012, 20:09

      Leading from the front is the best place to be as you are away from the turbulent air. Hamilton like Alonso in the last GP was fast enough not to be challenged, but slow enough to ensure the guys behind suffered from the turbulent air. Really smart driving. Also it seems Hamilton has been able to nurse his tyres better than his team-mate which doesn’t bode well for Button in their team-mate war as that was the one thing he had over Lewis in the past.

  10. Hatebreeder (@hatebreeder) said on 29th July 2012, 16:54

    I dont get it. Kimi came out late on the mediums (2 stopper) and lewis i believe was on a 1 stop strategy? Or did i miss the 2nd stop by lewis? So it should’ve been really easy for kimi to get past lewis as his tyres were much older? how did kimi not get past then?

  11. dkpioe said on 29th July 2012, 17:36

    i wish the Lotus could qualify as good as they race, that is the only thing that prevented a win today. I was really surprised Hamilton lasted 30 laps on the medium tyres to hold off raikonnen, a very atypical performance of Hamilton. you could hear on the radio they were not sure if it would work, and i am sure they were all holding their fingers crossed in the last 5 laps knowing Hamiltons usual tyre wear. Well done but, he hanged on, but hardly the domination expected after qualifying. I think Alonsos championship lead at this stage of the season will prove the difference at the end. Mclaren will be fast, but i think Lotus will make a charge in the second half of the season and points will be very closely fought.

  12. Eggry (@eggry) said on 29th July 2012, 17:57

    I believe Mercedes will consider withdraw seriously if they can’t get on the podium again this year…

    • Not only that. They’ve taken a step back from the previous years. Ferrari and Lotus are not their competition anymore, they are miles ahead, and even worse for them: 2 more decent weekends from Sauber and I could see Mercedes drop to 6th in the WCC.

      Plus, the atmosphere with their pit crew look awful all weekend. Confused and frustrated faces all around.

      All this can’t be sitting well with the german management. I think Ross Brawn has to come up with something to throw the team back into contention for at least 4th place in the standings immediately from Spa onwards. Otherwise I say there’s a serious chance Mercedes could become Brawn GP again in 2013…or worse.

      • Eggry (@eggry) said on 29th July 2012, 19:05

        Those countless glitches of Schumacher’s car is unbelievable. I’m sure the team make the company’s reputation worse.

        • @eggry That’s exactly why I’m sure they are seriously considering withdrawal. Why invest a large amount of money in a F1 team that has no results when you have DTM as a safer, cheaper bet. And Mercedes are kicking BMW’s and Audi’s ***** there too.

          Personally I think it all goes down to whether Schumacher decides to retire in 2013 or 2014. I have a strong feeling that Merc will follow the german’s lead and do the same…

  13. who's better who's best said on 29th July 2012, 18:46

    Great job lewis but why oh why can’t mclaren get their stratergies correct

    I feel for Jenson, he’s got enough troubles of his own without easy calls being bodged

  14. Manferscud (@feralsa) said on 29th July 2012, 18:52

    Hamilton learned from what alonso sis last weekend.He drove well in the corners before the DRS zone and less aggressively in those where kimi couldn close in.thats how he was able to conserve his tyres.

  15. Girts (@girts) said on 29th July 2012, 18:54

    This was especially frustrating Vettel, stuck behind third-placed Button, who urged his team “you have to do something”.

    I don’t know why this reminded me of an epoisode from the Wacky Races:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPn3F-8-Krs#t=8m09s

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