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Formula 1 post-race report: Hungarian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton reignites his championship charge


Well, well, well--not Hungaroboring at all! And definitely not the result we were expecting. We can dare hope that 2013 won\'t be another non-championship a la 2011. It makes the business of making predictions tougher, but F1 is no fun if it doesn\'t put us on the edge of our seats, is it?

1. Lotus will have the edge over Ferrari in qualifying. Fernando Alonso had one Lotus ahead of him and another behind, so the Enstone outfit did have the Saturday advantage. One point.

Romain Grosjean\'s hot laps looked far more hooked up than Kimi Raikkonen\'s, who contended that the new tire construction affected him negatively. Kimi did fare much better in the race than Grosjean, who was given a drive-through penalty for having all four wheels of his Lotus off the track as he passed Felipe Massa. Prior to that, he\'d also made contact with Jenson Button. The incident was investigated after the checkered flag, and Grosjean was handed a 20-second time penalty for causing a collision.


Alonso was obviously unhappy that his Ferrari was off the pace in both qualifying and the race. One interesting bit of news circling the paddock during the weekend was a potential link between the Spaniard and Red Bull. Is there an opt-out clause to Fernando\'s supposedly firm contract with Ferrari (which expires at the end of 2016)? Are both parties even seriously considering the switch? Or is this merely a matter of gamesmanship?

2. Jean-Eric Vergne will beat Daniel Ricciardo on Saturday and Sunday. Half a point to be had here. Ricciardo got into Q3, eventually lining up P8 to Vergne\'s P14. But while the world was watching the runner-up battle between Kimi and Sebastian Vettel, JEV slipped ahead of his Toro Rosso rival to finish two places higher than his starting position.

If the Frenchman wants to be back in the running for Mark Webber\'s Red Bull seat, however, he\'ll have to improve in qualifying--an important factor in Vettel\'s success since he got into an Adrian Newey creation. The race really highlighted how important it is for a Red Bull car to start at the front and run in clean air. Otherwise, it usually lacks the straight-line speed to overtake on long stretches, and running in another car\'s wake severely compromises its aerodynamics.

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3. Jenson Button and Sergio Perez will finish in the top 10. A point, although Jenson was in the spotlight after the race not for his P7 finish, but for keeping Vettel behind for most of the German\'s second stint. Seb tried going around the long way and tried playing it rough. An eternity and a chipped front wing later, he finally made it through, by which time Lewis Hamilton was over 10 seconds up the road.

4. At least one Force India will score points, and at least one Mercedes won\'t. Alonso said the new tires are hurting Ferrari\'s pace. Well, the new tires look to have completely taken away Force India\'s pace. After regular Q3 appearances and top 10 finishes with the old-spec Pirellis, the leader among the midfielders is suddenly within the reach of Sauber and Williams. It was neither Adrian Sutil nor Paul di Resta who got a point--both drivers didn\'t even finish the race. Instead, Pastor Maldonado finally put himself on the board this season.


Our half-point here comes courtesy of Nico Rosberg--or, should we say, his engine. Its fiery adieu had the Mercedes pit wall cautioning Hamilton to ease up a bit. Which he did have the luxury of doing at that point near the end of the race, being so far ahead.

5. Red Bull on pole, Lotus on the top step of the podium. Our only consolation for getting this off the mark (like the electronics in Mark Webber\'s car on Saturday) is that even Mercedes couldn\'t seem to believe Hamilton\'s success. Lewis could do with a bit more expeditions beyond the track boundaries during practice--he\'d gone off so many times on Friday, but apparently, there are answers to be found in the run-off areas. Congratulations to him for a brilliant drive and his first Mercedes win. With a competitive car, more robust tires, and half of the season left to go, there\'s no saying he can\'t close up his 48-point gap to Seb.


Incidentally, the four times Lewis has won the Hungarian GP, Kimi has always come second. Kimi is perpetually second in this year\'s races as well, with five P2 finishes. And as F1 goes into summer break, Kimi is also second in the championship, 38 points behind Sebastian and a point ahead of Fernando.

Then again, if Lewis is heroic in Hungary, the Finn is supreme in Spa, so we should have a very interesting race in Belgium in a month\'s time.

Total score: 3 out of 5





HUN Starting grid Race results
Pos Driver (Team) Quali (Start tire) Driver (Team) Time/Gap
1 L. Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:19.388 (S) L. Hamilton (Mercedes) 1hr 42:29.445
2 S. Vettel (Red Bull) 1:19.426, +0.038 (S) K. Raikkonen (Lotus) +10.938
3 R. Grosjean (Lotus) 1:19.595, +0.207 (S) S. Vettel (Red Bull) +12.459
4 N. Rosberg (Mercedes) 1:19.720, +0.332 (S) M. Webber (Red Bull) +18.044
5 F. Alonso (Ferrari) 1:19.791, +0.403 (S) F. Alonso (Ferrari) +31.411
6 K. Raikkonen (Lotus) 1:19.851, +0.463 (S) R. Grosjean (Lotus) +52.295
7 F. Massa (Ferrari) 1:19.929, +0.541 (S) J. Button (McLaren) +53.819
8 D. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) 1:20.641, +1.253 (S) F. Massa (Ferrari) +56.447
9 S. Perez (McLaren) 1:22.398, +3.010 (M) S. Perez (McLaren) +1 lap
10 M. Webber (Red Bull) no time set (M) P. Maldonado (Williams) +1 lap
11 A. Sutil (Force India) 1:20.569, +1.181 (M) N. Hulkenberg (Sauber) +1 lap
12 N. Hulkenberg (Sauber) 1:20.580, +1.192 (S) J. Vergne (Toro Rosso) +1 lap
13 J. Button (McLaren) 1:20.777, +1.389 (M) D. Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) +1 lap
14 J. Vergne (Toro Rosso) 1:21.029, +1.641 (S) G. van der Garde (Caterham) +2 laps
15 P. Maldonado (Williams) 1:21.133, +1.745 (S) C. Pic (Caterham) +2 laps
16 V. Bottas (Williams) 1:21.219, +1.831 (S) J. Bianchi (Marussia) +3 laps
17 E. Gutierrez (Sauber) 1:21.724, +2.336 (M) M. Chilton (Marussia) +3 laps
18 P. di Resta (Force India) 1:22.043, +2.655 (S) P. di Resta (Force India) retired
19 C. Pic (Caterham) 1:23.007, +3.619 (S) N. Rosberg (Mercedes) retired
20 G. van der Garde (Caterham) 1:23.333, +3.945 (S) V. Bottas (Williams) retired
21 J. Bianchi (Marussia) 1:23.787, +4.399 (M) E. Gutierrez (Sauber) retired
22 M. Chilton (Marussia) 1:23.997, +4.609 (M) A. Sutil (Force India) retired

Notes: M—medium compound; S—soft compound. Listed qualifying laps 17-22 set in Q1; 11-16 in Q2; and 1-10 in Q3

HUN Championship standings
Pos Driver Points Constructor Points
1 S. Vettel 172 Red Bull 277
2 K. Raikkonen 134 Mercedes 208
3 F. Alonso 133 Ferrari 194
4 L. Hamilton 124 Lotus 183
5 M. Webber 105 Force India 59
6 N. Rosberg 84 McLaren 57
7 F. Massa 61 Toro Rosso 24
8 R. Grosjean 49 Sauber 7
9 J. Button 39 Williams 1
10 P. di Resta 36 Marussia 0
11 A. Sutil 23 Caterham 0
12 S. Perez 18    
13 J. Vergne 13    
14 D. Ricciardo 11    
15 N. Hulkenberg 7    
16 P. Maldonado 1    
17 V. Bottas 0    
18 E. Gutierrez 0    
19 J. Bianchi 0    
20 C. Pic 0    
21 G. van der Garde 0    
22 M. Chilton 0    

Photos from Mercedes AMG Petronas

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