It was a case of 'after the Lord Mayor's show' in Budapest on Sunday as the Hungarian Grand Prix again provided a race to forget, particularly after the controversy of qualifying.
With Fernando Alonso demoted to sixth on the grid, and McLaren stripped of the right to score team points, after the 'blocking' issue that prevented Lewis Hamilton from completing a second flying lap on Saturday, it was left to Kimi Raikkonen and Nick Heidfeld to provide the opposition to the British hero, who inherited top spot on the grid from his team-mate.
In the event, only Raikkonen managed to offer any challenge to Hamilton, the Ferrari proving a better prospect in race trim than it did in qualifying. Heidfeld remained in touch for a while, before the relentless pace up front took its toll, leaving Alonso's battle to progress through the field to hold much of the attention.
The Spaniard make things hard for himself, however. As Hamilton made the perfect getaway from pole, and Raikkonen took advantage of lining up on the clean side of the grid to pass the wheel-spinning Heidfeld, Alonso found himself similarly affected by starting off-line. A look down the inside into turn one was thwarted by a defensive Nico Rosberg and the world champion then found himself swallowed up by Robert Kubica, dropping to seventh. A mistake at the final turn also allowed Mark Webber through, leaving the McLaren eighth and already nearly ten seconds off the lead.
Rosberg held his fourth place, ahead of Ralf Schumacher and Kubica, while Heikki Kovalainen and David Coulthard completed the initial top ten, benefiting from a poor opening lap from Jarno Trulli. Further back, Felipe Massa had also conceded a couple of places, dropping to 16th as he struggled to get his heavily-fuelled Ferrari off the line.
Hamilton had the hammer down in the opening laps, taking successive seconds out of Raikkonen before the Finn stabilised the gap, while his team-mate set about trying to undo the damage his start had done. Webber was put back in his place at turn one on lap three, with Kubica following suit next time around. That, however, only brought Alonso onto the tail of Ralf Schumacher, and the Toyota proved a tougher nut to crack.
Sakon Yamamoto's first race with Spyker was a short one, the Japanese returnee crashing out on lap six, but early retirements proved to be rare, with no-one joining Yamamoto on the sidelines until lap 36, when last year's winner, Jenson Button, succumbed to engine failure.
With overtaking opportunities likely to be rare, pit-stops would take on greater significance, and it was Heidfeld, Rosberg and Alonso who cracked first, calling in on lap 18. While the two Germans were serviced in around seven seconds, however, the world champion was stationary for fully 9.9secs, hinting at the diversity of strategy on offer.
McLaren's tactic prevented Alonso from vaulting past Schumacher when the German stopped next time around, the German coming out directly ahead of the world champion, and there was no chance of him making inroads into the leaders when they stopped on lap 20. Hamilton and Raikkonen returned to the track still holding first and second positions, both appearing to join Alonso on a two-stop gameplan while the other frontrunners opted for three.