Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton took a convincing first win of the season at the Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen and Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel. Hamilton’s fourth career victory at the Hungaroring puts him level with Michael Schumacher for most wins at the Budapest track.
“This is probably one of the most important grand prix wins of my career,” said Hamilton after finishing almost 11 seconds ahead of Raikkonen. “To move to a new team and to win for Mercedes-Benz is just a real privilege. I’m so glad I could be a part of the team and I really couldn’t be happier. I hope there’s many more to come.”
Hamilton made a good start from pole position and with Vettel making a slower getaway on the dirty side of the track, the Mercedes driver comfortably held his lead into the first corner. Vettel retained his P2 starting position despite a strong challenge from Lotus’ Romain Grosjean and the trio began to build a gap to the chasing pack.
Behind them Mark Webber made a good start for Red Bull Racing to rise from P10 on the grid to seventh by the end of lap two. With everyone in front of him starting on soft tyres and set to stop earlier, Webber, who started on medium tyres, had the opportunity to do a long first stint. When the front runners pitted for their own sets of medium rubber, Webber assumed the lead and in clear air began to make up time.
Hamilton was the first to stop on lap nine and emerged behind Jenson Button, who had also started on the medium tyre and was working his way through a long first stint. The Mercedes driver quickly passed his former team-mate but Vettel had no such luck. After his first stop on lap 11, the German also rejoined behind Button but for the next 13 laps he could find no way past and lost precious time behind the slower McLaren. Vettel attempted a bold move on lap 17 but it only resulted in a minor collision that damaged his front wing and which compromised his pace. The Red Bull driver eventually found a way past, but by that time Hamilton had opened up a significant gap and the battle for P1 was done.
“Coming out behind Jenson was crucial and I struggled to get past,” said Vettel. “I damaged my front wing, which didn’t help. After that I managed to get past. It was a long time. I lost a bit of speed and basically tried to hang in there, tried to fight back.”
The race then settled into a battle of competing strategies with positions changing hands according to starting tyre choice. While the bulk of the front-runners cycled through their mid-race stints without issues, Grosjean hit trouble.
After pressuring Vettel hard in the early stages of the race, the Frenchman found himself behind Button and in passing made contact with the McLaren, a clash that saw both being investigated by the stewards after the race. After his second stop Grosjean then found himself behind Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. He passed the Brazilian but did so off the track and was soon handed a drive-through penalty by the stewards. The punishment lost him valuable time and he dropped down the field to eventually finish sixth.
In the final stint, it was Raikkonen and Webber who profited most. The Finn took on a final set of mediums on lap 42 and clung on until the end, despite the close attentions of Vettel who pushed hard in the final 10 laps to chase down the Lotus driver.
“I knew it was going to be a bit tight but I felt that the tyres were good in the last ten laps,” said Raikkonen. “Maybe in the last two laps they dropped off quite badly but I didn’t really have any doubts that I could keep him [Vettel] behind. I had good speed through the last sector, so I knew that in the first corner he would not have a chance. Obviously you take a chance when you make so many laps with a set of tyres – but like I said, the team worked well, everything worked well for us.”
Webber, meanwhile was on a charge of his own. He took on a mandatory set of softs on lap 59 and emerged in fourth place. At times running almost two seconds a lap quicker than his team-mate he closed rapidly but then his times dropped away and he settled for fourth.
Fernando Alonso finished where he started, in fifth. With Grosjean, seventh was left to Button who finished ahead of Massa. The final points positions went to Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado.
Vettel’s third place means he maintains control of the Drivers’ Championship standings. He now has 172 points, with Raikkonen in second place with 134. Alonso is third on 133, while Hamilton’s win gives him a total of 124 points and fourth place.
In the Constructors’ battle, Red Bull Racing marginally increase their grip on the top of the standing, adding two points to the 67-point advantage they enjoyed over Mercedes before the start of the weekend. The Austrian team now has 277 points, Mercedes 208 and Ferrari 194. Lotus are fourth 11 points further back.
2013 Hungarian Grand Prix result
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:42:29.445 25
2 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus +10.9 secs 18
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing +12.4 secs 15
4 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing +18.0 secs 12
5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +31.4 secs 10
6 Romain Grosjean Lotus +32.2 secs 8
7 Jenson Button McLaren +53.8 secs 6
8 Felipe Massa Ferrari +56.4 secs 4
9 Sergio Pérez McLaren +1 Lap 2
10 Pastor Maldonado Williams +1 Lap 1
11 Nico Hülkenberg Sauber +1 Lap
12 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso +1 Lap
13 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso +1 Lap
14 Giedo van der Garde Caterham +2 Laps
15 Charles Pic Caterham +2 Laps
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia +3 Laps
17 Max Chilton Marussia +3 Laps
18 Paul di Resta Force India Hydraulics
19 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +6 Laps
Ret Valtteri Bottas Williams+28 Laps
Ret Esteban Gutiérrez Sauber +42 Laps
Ret Adrian Sutil Force India Hydraulics