The common belief that the Hungarian Grand Prix
and excitement couldn't go hand-in-hand was debunked as Jenson Button
defied the odds and all the weather gods could throw at him to claim his maiden F1 victory.
Despite starting from 14th on the grid after an engine change penalty, the Briton made the most of changeable conditions and perfect strategy from the Honda team to emerge at the head of an unusually formed field to break the 113-race 'losing' streak that had given his detractors a stick to beat him with. Although Button will be the first to admit that the conditions played a part in his triumph, his victory came at just the right time to quell speculation that GP2 points leader Lewis Hamilton
would be Britain's next grand prix winner, picking a weekend on which the younger man struggled with the weather.
After the GP2 race had been drenched by the morning downpour, the F1 field lined up on a wet circuit, but with the belief that the road, along with the weather, would dry up as the afternoon went on. The race would be the first wet one of the season, and the first in the Hungaroring's 21-year relationship with Formula One, throwing Saturday's planning out of the window for most of the eleven teams.
Ironically, among those with a lot to gain from the conditions, the penalised Fernando Alonso
and Michael Schumacher - both of whom had had their qualifying efforts hampered by time penalties - could adjust their strategy right up to the moment the pit-lane closed. Button, meanwhile, had made it through to the top ten run-off and was forced to carry his qualifying fuel load into the race, which he would start between the two title contenders.
The first turn in Hungary has a reputation for providing incident, as the field attempts to make most of its best overtaking opportunity, and Sunday was no different, although the change of positions had begun almost as soon as the lights had gone out. Already missing from the line-up was Christian Klien, forced to start from pit-lane after a fuel leak in his race car forced him into the spare Red Bull, while others, including second-placed Felipe Massa
and fourth-placed Pedro de la Rosa
had had spins on either the formation or warm-up laps, fortunately with no knock-on effect on their grid position.
Poleman Kimi Raikkonen
had had no such drama, and duly got the best start to lead the pack into the tightening right-hander. While the Finn pulled away, however, Massa found himself swamped on the 'dirty' side of the grid, with de la Rosa initially holding second, before third-placed starter Rubens Barrichello
swept around the outside of the first turn to position himself as chief pursuer.
Further back, Massa had his mirrors full of Giancarlo Fisichella
who, in turn, could see Schumacher and Alonso in his, the pair up from eleventh and 15th respectively. Schumacher wasted little time in disposing of the Italian, while both eased past the troubled Massa before the end of the lap, followed by Alonso.
Already out was Sakon Yamamoto, who Super Aguri career took another early exit, while Mark Webber
appeared to be in difficulty after plummeting to 17th from fifth on the grid. The Australian last one full lap before being forced to call it a day next time around, his Bridgestones apparently giving him no grip, although his reason for retirement will unofficially be listed as 'wing wedged beneath barrier' following one too many offs.
man wasn't the only one in trouble early on, as otherwise impressive debutant Robert Kubica
also spun on lap two, but rejoined a chastened 15th having been in touching distance of the points on the opening tour. Enjoying better fortunes, Alonso slipped past Renault
team-mate Fisichella for fifth, keeping up the pressure on Schumacher who, alone among the Bridgestone runners, appeared to have traction, having started on full wets when most of the field - Michelin or Bridgestone - had opted for intermediates.