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The Lotus F1 team showed strong pace at the Hungarian Grand Prix, with both drivers challenging Lewis Hamilton for the win today. Kimi Raikkonen edged Romain Grosjean to finish runner-up while the rookie Frenchman continued to impress, rounding up the podium places.
Kimi Raikkonen showed he still has every bit of skill in his comeback year with a fantastic series of race-defining fastest laps in the middle of the race. Starting 5th, the Finn lost a place to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso at the start, and at a track which is notorious for lack of overtaking, had to trail the Spaniard until the first round of pitstops. The 2007 Champion jumped Alonso by pitting on lap 21. He kept 5th position until the second pit stop window, setting a string of purple times in clear air to spectacularly overhaul the battling duo of Grosjean and Vettel effectively taking 2nd. Exiting the pits, Raikkonen went side-by-side with Grosjean at Turn 1, the scrap seeing Romain briefly run wide off the track. The last stint saw the Lotus catch up leader Hamilton with some impressive pace, but he was unable to mount a challenge despite being within the DRS zone, finishing a second behind the McLaren.
Raikkonen had this to say post race: "It's 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. My start was not too bad but then we had some issues with the KERS and I lost a place to Fernando [Alonso]. When we got it working again we were stuck in the pack so it was a bit frustrating, 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. The team said it would be very close with Romain, but it was okay in the end. We managed to catch Lewis [Hamilton] but it was impossible to pass.â€
Raikkonen drops to fifth in the championships, one point behind Hamilton at 116.
Romain Grosjean was also a contender for the win today, but a mid-race battle with Sebastian Vettel witnessed him losing out to Raikkonen in the end. The Frenchman kept Vettel at bay in the first corner at the start of the race, keeping up with Hamilton till the first stops. He emerged with a set of soft tyres for the second stint, and with Hamilton on the mediums gave the leader a tough time. He never came close to launch an overtaking manoeuvre though, and was usurped by Raikkonen in the pits in the midst of shadowing a feisty Vettel in the second round of pitstops. Grosjean kept his this third place till the flag as a Vettel ran out of laps in a late race charge on softs.
Grosjean shared, â€œIt's a good result for the team, but to be honest I'm a bit disappointed. We had a good battle for the lead with Lewis [Hamilton] all through the first two stints, but then I got stuck behind Michael [Schumacher] who didn't respect the blue flags at all which cost me a lot of time. Because of this I lost a place to Kimi, and at the same time a possible chance to fight for the win. 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. Still, that's racing and we've take home a lot of points for the Constructors' Championship which is a real positive.â€
Team Principal Eric Boullier was meanwhile pleased as punch: "Both cars on the podium end a pretty good weekend for the team. For everyone back at Enstone we must pay credit as they work so hard for results like this, but seldom get to taste the champagne at the track. I'm very happy that Romain came back after a tough weekend in Germany and I'm very happy to see Kimi fighting for the win. Our new approach to qualifying is delivering. We qualified better this weekend and we chased the leader of the race for many laps. On a different track layout which allows overtaking I think we could have won this race.â€
Lotus keeps third in the standings, just one point behind McLaren at 192 points.
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- 29/07/2012 18:17 - Hamilton hangs on to win Hungarian Grand Prix, Raikkonen and Grosjean complete perfect podium for Lotus