Lewis Hamilton took his second win of the season - Lotus photoEnlarge Photo
Formula 1 takes its mid-season imposed break after a 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix that saw pole man Lewis Hamilton take the checkered flags for McLaren, albeit hounded by the black and gold Lotus drivers the whole way--start to finish. First it was Romain Grosjean in his mirrors and then Kimi Raikkonen took up the chase, but the Briton never lost his cool and didn't falter with the challenge.
He claimed the win by a single second from the Finn, with the second Lotus 10.5 seconds behind.
Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel was fourth for Red Bull racing, points leader Fernando Alonso's Ferrari was fifth, followed by Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button, Bruno Senna for Williams, Mark Webber in the second Red Bull Racing RB8, Felipe Massa's Ferrari and Nico Rosberg rounding out the points-holders in tenth for Mercedes-AMG, 51 seconds behind the winner.
"I was under a lot of pressure throughout all 69 laps--first Romain and then Kimi were right behind me, all the way through and I had to look after my tires without letting my pace drop, which was pretty tricky at times," Hamilton explained. "It was a really enjoyable race--but it wasn't at all easy. It was one of the toughest races I've ever driven--I'll savor it all the more for that."
The first start of the race was aborted as Michael Schumacher turned off his engine due to high temps and started from the pits after a second formation lap. Once underway, he picked up a puncture, a pit road speeding ticket, the engine heat problem continued and he stopped so as not to incur penalties at the next race at Spa-Francorchamps a month from now.
At the front, Hamilton had a good start while Grosjean pulled an inside move on Vettel to keep second place. The field leveled out with nary a first-lap incident and there were only two retirements--Schumacher and Narain Karthikeyan in the HRT with a steering issue. Fully 14 cars finished on the lead lap, with Sergio Perez' Sauber the final driver to complete the distance.
Raikkonen said it was "a shame we couldn't quite get the win but it's a good result for the team and we'll keep pushing to make that final step. When we got it working again we were stuck in the pack, but once we were in clear air we could push and it looked like we could make up a few places in the second stops. We managed to catch Lewis but it was impossible to pass."
Grosjean was disappointed to cede second place to his teammate. "We had a good battle for the lead with Lewis all through the first two stints, but then I got stuck behind Michael (Schumacher), who didn't respect the blue flags at all. It cost me a lot of time," he said. "It's very hard to overtake here; every time I came close to someone in front I would lose a bit of front end grip, which made it impossible but still, that's racing and we've taken home a lot of points for the Constructors' Championship, which is a real positive."
Alonso now has 40 points on Webber (164-124) heading into the break, with Vettel two points behind his teammate in third, Hamilton back up to fourth (117) and Raikkonen demoted to fifth place, just one behind Hamilton. Red Bull Racing leads the Constructors' race with 246 points to McLaren's 193, while Lotus has 192, Ferrari's got 189 points and Mercedes-AMG holds 106 points. The next F1 race is Belgian Grand Prix at the historic Spa-Francorchamps circuit on September 2.