Lewis Hamilton saw off the challenge of Lotus pair Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen to secure victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix – and bring himself firmly back into contention for the 2012 F1 title.
Proving himself to be the dominant force at the Hungaroring, Hamilton topped every session bar one in Budapest to snare his second victory of the season and go some way towards making up for the recent disappointments in Valencia and at Hockenheim.
At the start, Hamilton was able to hold the lead with a perfect getaway while behind, Grosjean found himself under pressure from defending champion Sebastian Vettel into turn one. Managing to keep his position from the German, Grosjean then set about trying to keep pace with the Briton out front while Vettel found himself shuffled back to fourth by Jenson Button out of turn three.
The early part of the race saw Hamilton and Grosjean pull away from the closing pack although the Frenchman was unable to get close enough to try and make a move for the lead. An opportunity presented itself when Hamilton was ever so slightly delayed during his first pit-stop after stopping before his rival, but Grosjean was unable to complete his own in-lap quick enough to emerge out front when he stopped a lap later.
It was at that point that Lotus elected to go a different way to McLaren with strategy, with Hamilton swapping his soft tyres for mediums but Grosjean electing to go with a second set of softs. Lapping quicker than the leader, Grosjean closed up on Hamilton only to then undo his hard work when mistakes on consecutive laps dropped him back from the McLaren.
Hamilton was able to keep the lead through to his second stop where he stayed on medium tyres but behind, it was suddenly the second Lotus of Raikkonen that was his closest challenger.
Raikkonen had run sixth at the end of the opening lap but was able to make up a position in the opening round of stops when he got ahead of Fernando Alonso and – like team-mate Grosjean – elected to go with a second set of the softer compound tyres.
A strong second stint, where the Finn went longer than most of his rivals, allowed him to make up further places so that when he then pitted to swap to the medium compound rubber, he emerged from the pits almost level with team-mate Grosjean.
Going into turn one side-by-side, Raikkonen took his chance to move into second place and then set about chasing down Hamilton for what would have been his first victory since Spa 2009.