Lewis Hamilton proved that miracles can and occasionally still do happen in F1, as he put his tyres woes in Germany behind him with an impressive run on Sunday to claim victory in the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix. In doing so, Hamilton clinched his first win for his new team Mercedes at the same time as equalling Michael Schumacher's record of four wins at the Hungaroring
and earned his 22nd career Grand Prix victory.
A strong start was vital for Hamilton's hopes, but after that it was a case of brains as much as raw race pace that allowed Mercedes to control the unfolding proceedings, as glitches on the Red Bull
and traffic on the circuit held up Sebastian Vettel's attempts to get back on an even footing at the front with Hamilton until he was forced to concentrate instead on scrapping unsuccessfully for second place with Lotus F1's Kimi Raikkonen.
Despite temperatures approaching 38C (100F), the cars ironically still had had to weave their way around the 2.722-mile circuit in order to get their tyres up to operating temperature in time for the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix, with the front four rows all starting the race on the fast but short-lived soft option tyres.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton
put them to good use and when the race got underway he was racing down to turn 1 before Sebastian Vettel
had a chance to counterattack. The Red Bull
was disadvantaged by being on the dirty side of the grid and barely held on to second place from a determined but well-handled lunge by Romain Grosjean
in the Lotus.
Hamilton's team mate Nico Rosberg
also had a sniff at overtaking but instead fell foul to a dazzling move around the outside from Fernando Alonso
in the Ferrari, leaving Rosberg fighting off Alonso's team mate Felipe Massa. He ran off the track twice in the process which did damage to his Mercedes and ended up dropping him out of the top ten altogether by the time he recovered. Massa sustained some front wing damage to his car in the exchange, but not serious enough to require a pit stop for a replacement.
Hamilton used all of this activity going on behind him to ease his way into a one second lead over the still-distracted Vettel by the end of the first lap. While Grosjean was unable to make any in-roads passing Vettel, he could at least take comfort in knowing that the trio were quickly moving comfortably clear of Alonso and Massa behind him, with Kimi Raikkonen
up to six ahead of Mark Webber
- who's opted to start on the harder medium tyres - and Jenson Button
up into eighth place in the McLaren
after a flying start that had put him ahead of Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo and his own team mate Sergio Perez who was holding position in tenth.
With things settling down after the frantic, the anxious faces on pit road were awaiting the next significant moment of the race - the first round of pit stops. Mercedes' tyre management hasn't been the best in 2013 and they had also admitted that they were on the back foot after missing the Silverstone test of the new Pirelli tyres being introduced from this Grand prix in response to the series of high profile blow-outs seen at in the British GP in June. The question is, how long could Hamilton make his first set of tyres last - and would it be far enough to keep him in contention?
Sure enough, Hamilton was on pit road before anyone else and swapped to the more durable medium rubber at the end of lap 9; he exited pit road and resumed in eighth place immediately behind his old McLaren
team mate Jenson Button, who was obliging enough not to impede him too long or make him work too hard to get by - which proved crucial when Vettel responded too laps later. The Red Bull
came out behind not only Hamilton but also behind Button, who was already on the medium tyres and not in any hurry to make a stop just yet. Nor did he appear as ready to yield the position to Vettel as he had been to Hamilton.