Lewis Hamilton has rated the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix amongst the best of his seven-year tenure in the top flight.
The Briton led from start to finish at the Hungaroring, save for the brief shake-up caused by pit-stops, and eventually crossed the line nearly eleven seconds clear of runner-up Kimi Raikkonen. While he has won at the Budapest circuit before – enjoying three victories there for McLaren – it was a first success for the Hamilton-Mercedes tandem, adding extra lustre to his achievement.
"This is probably one of the most important grand prix wins of my career," Hamilton said from the podium immediately after the race, "To move to a new team and win for Mercedes-Benz is a real privilege - I could not be happier. I hope there is plenty more to come.”
Having watched team-mate Nico Rosberg take two wins for Mercedes in 2013, Hamilton had begun to wonder where his breakthrough would come, but pre-race comments underlined that he certainly didn't expect it to be in sweltering temperatures at the Hungaroring, despite qualifying on pole.
As it turned out, the Briton's concerns over his tyres proved unfounded, with the W04 able to make the revised Pirellis last as well as anyone, even though the team had been denied the chance to try the rubber at the recent Silverstone Young Driver test thanks to its prior involvement in a 'private' session in Barcelona.
“We have to work hard but, if we can make the tyres last here, we can do it anywhere," a clearly impressed Hamilton continued.
From pole, the 2008 world champion made the perfect getaway, keeping himself clear of any potential trouble at the first turn, and was able to ease away from his pursuers, helped by Sebastian Vettel being stuck behind Jenson Button after his first stop. Hamilton was not without his moments behind slower cars, however, but appeared determined not to let anything get in the way of that maiden Mercedes win.
I think you could tell I was hungry for it today," he insisted, "I was just going all-out. I needed to get past those people. Usually I get stuck in traffic, and today I wasn't having it. I was going for every move I had."
Moves on Button and Mark Webber at various points in the race proved crucial, and helped Hamilton confirm the belief that he is the best 'racer' in the field. With Kimi Raikkonen coming through to deny Vettel second place, the Briton has been able to trim 13 points from his deficit to the German, but remains coy when pressed on his championship chances.
"I hope [to still be in contention] - I honestly believe in this team and that this car is fast enough to compete with the Red Bull," he concluded, "As long as the tyres don't let us down, we'll be in there in the fight."