Lewis Hamilton today won for the fourth time at the Hungaroring in Hungary. In scorching conditions, the Englishman was the better of both second-placed Kimi Raikkonen and third-placed Sebastian Vettel, as well as the rest of the field.
The victory, the first of his Mercedes career, was classic Hamilton, characterised by blistering pace, incisive and dynamic overtaking and unremitting determination. His two moves on Mark Webber will stand out in the memory, partly because of their bravery and skill, but also in contrast to Vettel’s failure to get past his own demons in the shape of Jenson Button and Raikkonen at the end. It was that incision from the Englishman that would turn out to be decisive over the course of the race.
Perhaps equally remarkable was the ability of the Mercedes to be kind enough to its tyres for its driver to profit. The Pirellis have caused the team no end of trouble this season, and the outfit having missed the young driver test recently was thought to disadvantage them further. But even in the dry central European summer heat, the car did not look any harder on its rubber than anyone else. (Nico Rosberg will rue that his engine was not as resilient, however). Does this mean Mercedes have finally turned the corner and have a handle on the degradation? Sadly for them, I don’t think so – the characteristics of the circuit, as in Monaco, might have excused or obscured the car’s penchant for demolishing rubber. Answers will be evident in Spa and Monza, though.
Elsewhere, the action was exciting, unusually so for this track. Rough diamond Romain Grosjean was entertaining in the early stages, quick and threatening in more ways than one. Jenson Button had cause to reproach the Frenchman after his spatial awareness was again found wanting and Button was lucky to escape without damage. Grosjean then made the most beautiful move of the race on Felipe Massa, but would ultimately regret it – as he passed the Ferrari round the outside of turn four he had all his wheels off the track and was thus penalised.
Massa’s team mate Fernando Alonso was yet again off the pace. His title chances are waning, despite his own superhuman efforts, because of the inability of his team to provide a car which can compete with the Red Bull, Mercedes, and Lotus machines. As such the title race is between Vettel, Raikkonen and at a push Hamilton, who may now be able to cut loose. That is wishful thinking, perhaps, on the part of those who wish to see a close title race, and Raikkonen’s challenge may be similarly flawed. If today is anything to go by, no one will be giving up, however.
COMING SOON: Half term report