Jenson Button has confessed that Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix
was one of the harder-fought victories of his F1 career – but he concedes that over the sport's four-week summer break, 'we are going to be thinking about Spa already and excited about coming back and hopefully doing the same again'...albeit preferably in the dry next time.
The Hungarian Grand Prix
may traditionally be one of the drier and hotter races on the annual F1 calendar, but just as in 2006 – when Button brilliantly claimed his maiden top flight triumph around the Hungaroring
– the 2011 edition transpired to be rather a mixed affair climatically, and it was a challenge that the McLaren-Mercedes star handled impressively in his stride, keeping his head whilst the vast majority around him were busy spinning off into the scenery.
In his 200th grand prix, Button immediately signalled his intentions by going side-by-side with team-mate Lewis Hamilton
on the run down to Turn Two for the first time before deeming discretion to be the better part of valour, and he then became the first of the leading trio to pit to change over from intermediate rubber to slicks at the end of lap eleven as the track began drying out.
Shortly afterwards, he pulled off a superbly aggressive move to scythe his way past runaway F1 2011 World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel
into Turn Two and proceeded to home in on Hamilton at the head of the field before seizing the advantage for himself when his countryman spun on the exit of the chicane at Turns Six and Seven with a third of the grand prix to go, as he put the power down on a track that was becoming increasingly slippery once again as the heavens re-opened.
The pair would swap positions twice more when Button subsequently ran wide, but a decision to remain out on slick tyres at his final pit-stop whilst Hamilton plumped for inters sealed the deal. In his milestone race, it was as fine a performance as the 31-year-old has ever produced – and he is confident he could have done precisely the same in the dry.
“This is the first place where I won a grand prix, back in 2006 in these sorts of conditions, and it was my 200th race and here we are again for my eleventh win, so a great moment,” he reflected. “[It was] a wonderful race, just perfect for my 200th grand prix. For some reason, I like these conditions; don't ask me why, but it worked out again – [I'm] always lucky in these conditions.
“You're not always going to make the right call, and I haven't always made the right call in these conditions – but I feel that I'm pretty good at making the right call when it comes to tyre changes. We had very good pace and on the 'Option' tyre, I was able to make the tyre last for a long time. I was really looking after them. Towards the end of each stint, the pace was very good. The reason we won was because we were quick; if it didn't rain, it wouldn't have made any difference at all.
“It ended in the right way, I think, but it was a very tough race. [During] the first stint on inters in the wet, it felt like there was no grip at all; it felt like we were on the dries. Then we put the dry tyres on, which was definitely the right call, but in some places it was very, very slippery. Then with the rain towards the end, you just couldn't find any grip out there. We were skating around and it was hard enough keeping the thing on the round, let alone trying to overtake and fight your team-mate!”
Indeed, that internecine duel with Hamilton was one of the undoubted talking-points of the grand prix afterwards, and Button acknowledged that 'it is always fun racing with Lewis' – Montreal aside, perhaps – adding in the wake of the recent Red Bull
Racing team orders furore that he 'didn't hear anything on the radio'...