Lewis Hamilton dominated the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday as he led from start to finish, holding off fierce challenges from both Lotus drivers to claim his second win of a season that had threatened to fizzle out. By Brian Homewood.
Lotus pair Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean were second and third after both failing to dislodge the McLaren driver, who gave his team their fifth win in the last six years at the twisty Hungaroring circuit.
World championship leader Fernando Alonso was fifth, enough for the Spaniard to increase his lead at the top of the standings going into the one month break even though his Ferrari showed again that is not the fastest car in the field.
Double world champion Sebastian Vettel finished fourth for Red Bull, the German maintaining his record of never having won a race in July.
Hamilton, fastest in both practice sessions on Friday as well as qualifying, started on pole and the Briton only briefly relinquished his lead for two pit stops.
The 2008 world champion, who previously won in Canada in June, was threatened by Grosjean early in the race and had Raikkonen on his tail for the last few laps but fought off both the Frenchman and the Finn.
“These races remind me of the old days and this is the kind of day when you have to have your mind at 100 per cent,” said Hamilton, who also won at the same circuit in 2007 and 2009.
“If we were on another track where overtaking was easier, the result might have been different,” he added after a race held in hot, dry conditions as thunderstorms which had been predicted failed to materialise.
“It is nice to go into the break knowing that we have had a win,” he added. “It is a great feeling. It is very, very important how I manage the summer break.”
Hamilton had only managed four points in three races since his win in Canada but the performance upgrades introduced by McLaren since then finally paid off following a frustrating outing in Hockenheim last week which ended in retirement.
Ferrari driver Alonso, who has 164 points in the standings, moved 40 ahead of Webber, who was eighth in his Red Bull for the second race in a row.
Vettel, third overall, closed the gap on Webber to two points and Hamilton leap-frogged Raikkonen into fourth place, although he remains 47 points behind Alonso.
“This weekend shows it is all to play for still,” said Hamilton. “If we can continue this kind of performance we can catch up.
“We need consistency and we need to improve the car still in many areas and I am sure we will do that.”
Raikkonen started in sixth place but worked his way up through the field, leading for several laps before making his second tyre change of the race.
The ice-cool Finn came out of the pits almost alongside Grosjean but fended off his team mate to take second place. But, despite moving within one second of Hamilton, the 2007 champion never got closer enough to pass.
“We always try to win and sometimes you get close and it is a bit disappointing that we cannot,” said Raikkonen. “We know why, we are not so strong in qualifying and make it hard for ourselves on Sundays.”
Seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher, who has won four times at the Hungaroring, had a thoroughly miserable afternoon
He was left on the grid in an aborted start, then joined from the pits and, after becoming to make his way up through the field, was given a drive-through penalty for pit-lane speeding.
He retired from 18th place late in the race. DM
Photo: McLaren Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives during the Hungarian F1 Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit near Budapest July 29, 2012. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
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