Excessive heat, unproven tyres, a track that allegedly features little in the way of overtaking and an apparently dominant Red Bull team did not bode well for the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix, but fears of a processional pursuit of Sebastian Vettel were quickly laid to rest.
Instead, the race turned out to be another one of action and intrigue, with a winner who would not have bet on himself before the start - even though he had qualified on pole - heading another scrap between the top two from the previous round in Germany, and enough incident down the field to keep punters guessing as to the final order.
Against all expectations, not least his own, Lewis Hamilton converted his third consecutive 2013 pole into a fourth success at the Hungaroring, breaking his Mercedes duck in the process.
It was a determined drive from the Briton, who eked out an early advantage before capitalising on his biggest rival being caught up behind a car running longer into the race on harder tyres. Hamilton was not in the mood to cede to traffic either, pulling off a handful of forceful moves to ensure that he remained out front.
Instead of Vettel coming home second, however, it was Kimi Raikkonen again filling the second step of the podium, this time having reversed their roles from the Nurburgring, where he was the one homing in on Vettel. In Hungary, the Finn, who was among a handful of two-stoppers, had to fend off the German's advances, but did so, reclaiming second spot in the championship as a result.
Vettel, having started on the front row, was left to rue being caught up behind Jenson Button's McLaren at a crucial point in the proceedings, admitting that the time lost there had been enough to cost him first and second places.
The other Red Bull had also been a contender, as Mark Webber made the most of not running in Q3 to start the race on the harder rubber and make early progress up the order. The Australian was unable to follow Raikkonen's two-stop programme, however, and a late charge on the soft tyres wasn't enough to propel him onto the podium.
Behind Webber, Fernando Alonso had a largely subdued race to fifth, dropping him behind Raikkonen in the overall standings, while Romain Grosjean turned third on the grid into sixth at the flag after another feisty drive - peppered with inspired moves - was rewarded with a drive-thru' and post-race time penalty. The Frenchman was good value for a podium had it not been for the errors of judgement, although his costly first penalty was widely adjudged as a little harsh....
Button took a hard-earned seventh for McLaren, running two stops in a bid to convert a disappointing 13th on the grid into points for the Woking team, and he was joined in the top ten by team-mate Sergio Perez, the Mexican taking ninth after a poor getaway left him in traffic for much of the opening part of the race.
The pair sandwiched Felipe Massa's Ferrari in eighth place, and Button also appeared to have the beating of Nico Rosberg's Mercedes before the German retired. Rosberg's exit provided a welcome turn of fortune for the Williams team, however, as Pastor Maldonado took advantage of that and a drive-thru' for Nico Hulkenberg to finally open the Grove squad's account for 2013....
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