ROUND 11 - Hungary 27-29 July 2012
Circuit Length: 4.381 Km
Lap Record: 1:19.071 = 199.461 km/h - M. Schumacher (Ferrari) 2004
Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes), 1m 20.893s = 194.824 km/h
1st: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes), 1hr 41m 05.503s (average race speed 179.390 km/h)
2nd: Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus Renault), gap 1.032s
3rd: Romain Grosjean (Lotus Renault), gap 10.518s
Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Renault), 1:24.136 = 187.453 km/h on lap 68
Hamilton's Hungarian Hat-trick:Budapest in 10 quick bites
Lewis Hamilton won for the second time in 2012, the 19th time in his F1 career and the third time in Hungary as McLaren Mercedes recovered their early-season form in devastating style in the last race before the lengthy European summer break. The 27-year-old Englishman resisted the twin Lotus Renault challenge from first Romain Grosjean, then Kimi Raikkonen, to win more comfortably than it sounds by just over a second.
Hamilton started from his third pole position of the year and the 22nd of his career. More significantly it was the 150th F1 pole position for McLaren, a sequence that began with Peter Revson occupying the front spot on the grid for the Canadian Grand Prix in 1972 – 40 years ago.
“It was a really enjoyable race – but it wasn’t at all easy,” Hamilton insisted. “In fact, I reckon that it was one of the toughest races I’ve ever driven – but, guess what, I’ll savour it all the more for that. These are the kind of Grand Prix, the races you win like this, where you’re under intense pressure from great drivers like Romain and Kimi – for me it’s a great reminder of the old days with Kimi – and this is the kind of day when you have to have your mind 100 per cent and I feel great because the team didn’t flinch and neither did I.”
While Grosjean, starting from his first Formula 1 front row, did well to avoid first-lap disaster and repel an early attack from Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull, it was Raikkonen who was in hot pursuit of Hamilton by the end of the race. A double podium for Lotus Renault takes them back to second in the Constructors’ Championship, just one point behind McLaren Mercedes. Laconic as ever, former Hungaroring winner Raikkonen said: “Yeah, you would rather win than come second or third but it's a long season and I think we're improving all the time. If it comes it's great, if not, we keep trying.”
Australia’s Mark Webber suffered a second successive weekend of disappointment, missing a rare chance to make hay as Championship leader Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari struggled in the Budapest sunshine. On the back foot after qualifying in 11th, Webber started superbly to make up four places on the opening lap, but lost out late in the race when his left rear differential played up and then a third pit stop saw him caught up behind Bruno Senna’s Williams. Eighth place saw Webber fall 40 points behind Alonso with nine races left.
“We were hoping people would be in a bit more trouble with their tyres at the end,” said a disappointed Webber, the only man in the top 12 to start the race on Pirelli’s Medium (harder) compound. “We were in fifth place and had a nice cushion, but we’ve had plenty of times this year where the tyres had stopped working towards the end of the race. Today it didn’t really work out that way and we lost places through trying something different.”
Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel is now just two points adrift of Webber after a scintillating burst of late-race speed almost carried him to a podium place. Vettel set fastest lap after fastest lap, eventually settling for a 1:24.136 on the second-last time round, but could not quite close the gap to Grosjean.
The race was shortened by one lap when Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes stalled on the grid, triggering a second formation lap. It was a disastrous weekend for the seven-time World Champion: he qualified 17th, his worst ever at this track… had to start from pit lane… came in on the second lap for new tyres and promptly picked up a drive-through for speeding in pit lane… then to cap it all he was the first retirement of the race with 60 laps gone, clocking up his sixth retirement in 11 races this season.
Australia’s other representative, Dan Ricciardo, also had a difficult weekend with his Scuderia Toro Rosso team. Ricciardo got stuck in Q1 for the first time this season then admitted the car simply didn’t have the pace to finish higher than his eventual 15th position. Schumacher apart, the only other retirement was Narain Karthikeyan’s HRT Cosworth, which clouted the barriers on the driver’s left at Turn 4 with just five laps remaining.
With a five-week break ahead Alonso – celebrating his 31st birthday the day after the race – is well clear of his pursuers, but the battle for second place is close with Webber, Vettel, Hamilton and Raikkonen separated by just eight points. Red Bull are 53 points ahead of McLaren Mercedes, who have Lotus Renault and Ferrari breathing down their necks with four points covering the three teams.