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Lewis Hamilton came, saw and conquered as the British ace took a magnificent victory in a race judged to perfection leading from start to finish. Kimi Raikkonen finished in a superb 2nd place as the â€œIcemanâ€ showed glimpses of getting back to his very best, while his teammate Romain Grosjean capped a brilliant race for the Enstone based Lotus team by taking the final spot on the podium in 3rd place. Sebastian Vettel finished in 4th place for Red Bull having run out of laps, to catch up with Grosjean, as championship leader Fernando Alonso finished a frustrating race in 5th place for Ferrari.
Alonso did, however, fair better than his immediate challenger in the world championship, Mark Webber, who brought the second Red Bull home in 8th place. Alonso will take a comfortable 40 point lead into the 3-week summer break, though the battle for second place is really heating up with Vettel, Hamilton and Raikkonen all within 8 points of the Aussie driver.
Start of the Race:
The start of the race was aborted and an extra formation lap added as Michael Schumacher suffered a bitter blow as he was forced to switch off his engine on the grid due to a warning light on his dashboard, with the German starting from the exit of the pit lane as a result. The Hungarian Grand Prix finally got off to a rollicking start as pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton made a great getaway to comfortably lead the rest of the pack into Turn 1.
Sebastian Vettel tried to go around the outside of Romain Grosjean into turn 1, but could not make the move stick. Vettel's loss was Jenson Button's gain as he had the inside line for the next corner and powered past the Red Bull ace to claim 3rd place. Meanwhile Fernando Alonso made a move on Kimi Raikkonen to gain 5th place.
Mark Webber also did not waste any time, as the gritty Aussie was a man on the move having gained several places to be upto 7th at the end of lap 1. Schumacher opted to pit on Lap 2, to switch from the soft to the medium tyres, but the weekend went from bad to worse for the Mercedes team as the veteran German was given a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
Romain Grosjean in his Lotus E20 began to respond to race leader Hamilton's pace as he set the fastest lap to be within 2.2 s of the McLaren driver. Hamilton though had other ideas as he set the fastest lap instantly to nose ahead of Frenchman Grosjean, and the following pack. By lap 10 the gap between Hamilton and Grosjean remained pretty static as they traded fastest laps.
Alonso had the Lotus of Raikkonen all over his mirrors, as the Finn was the only driver in the top 10 within the DRS zone. Nico Rosberg made his way upto the cusp of the points scoring positions as the young German was running in 11th place, whilst his teammate Schumacher was running in last place due to his drive through penalty.
It was a cat and mouse battle at the front of the field as Hamilton and Grosjean continued to trade fastest laps, whilst Button was under pressure from Vettel who was within the DRS zone. Raikkonen continued to be bottled behind the wily Ferrari ace Alonso, who was presumably saving his tyres.
On Lap 16, Button was the first front-runner to pit as he was neatly in and out of the pits swapping to the medium tyres, to rejoin in 10th place. on lap 18, Vettel pitted to swap to another set of the soft tyres, as Button executed the undercut to perfection to nose ahead of the Red Bull ace. Alonso pitted for Ferrari and rejoined behind the Sauber of Sergio Perez in 9th place.
McLaren botched a pit stop for Hamilton once again this season, as Grosjean began nailing a series of ultra-quick laps as he pitted on lap 19. Fortunately for McLaren though, Lotus followed suit with an equally tardy pit stop as it cost Grosjean time, he rejoined on track with an HRT between himself and Hamilton. Alonso got a clear run atop the hill, as he drove past the Sauber of Perez for 7th place,whose tyres seemed to have come off the cliff.
There was no big gain or loss after the round of pit-stops as status quo was maintained.
Grosjean was driving like a man on fire as he was closing in swiftly behind race leader Hamilton. It was an intriguing battle for the last step on the podium as Vettel was going all out in his scrap with Button for P3. Button managed to hold his own as the superior KERS unit on his McLaren aided the British ace to keep his nose ahead of Vettel. Hamilton meanwhile put the pedal to the metal as he increased his lead over 2nd place Grosjean back to over 2 seconds.
Both the McLarens drivers were withstanding fairly intense pressure from the men behind - Hamilton from Grosjean and Button from Vettel. It was a game of high speed poker as the Red Bull think-tank were focusing on a different strategy.
On lap 35, Button pitted as McLaren were forced to blink first, as the team told Button they were going ahead with Plan-B, having been put under immense pressure from the raging Red Bull of Vettel. It was a mega pit stop from the McLaren team as they fitted the MP4-27 of Button on the soft tyres after a really quick stop, with the 2009 Champion rejoining in 8th place just behind Bruno Senna.
It was game on as Vettel found himself in clear air and instantly showed the pace of his Red Bull setting the fastest lap of the race, with a 5 second gap to catch up to 2nd placed Lotus man Grosjean. On Lap 37, Raikkonen in the sister Lotus was also flying as he was catching up quickly with Vettel, having set the fastest lap of the race.
As the second round of pit stops began taking shape, Vettel pitted on lap 39, to swap to the prime tyres, it was a quick 3.3 second stop from Red Bull as the German rejoined ahead of the Senna-Button battle. Grosjean pitted on lap 40, to rejoin behind Alonso with the Lotus team swapping him to the medium tyres. Webber pitted along with Hulkenberg to rejoin in 10th place.
On lap 42 Raikkonen became race leader on his soft tyres as Hamilton pitted. Alonso was the sandwich between Hamilton and Grosjean as the Spaniard was yet to do his next (and probably final) pit stop.
By lap 44 the Ferrari team got Alonso into the pit lane, with Massa immediately pitting behind his teammate as the Ferrari duo rejoined back in 7th and 9th place respectively. On Lap 46 race leader Raikkonen was hustling his Lotus to the limit as the Finn pitted to rejoin in 3rd place having gone wheel to wheel with his teammate Grosjean into turn 1.
The Finn was on fire as he threw his name into the mix for victory having rejoined in a superb 2nd place just behind leader Hamilton who now had a race on his hands.
Button made his 3rd and final stop as the McLaren team were having a nightmare of a race in the pit lane, as a problem with the release of his left-front tyre caused a long pit stop. Button was the biggest loser after the round of pit stops, as he rejoined right behind Alonso in 7th place. Raikkonen vaulted into 2nd place, as on a fresher set of tyres, he was just 2.5 seconds behind Hamilton. There was action all around the field as Pastor Maldonado having earned a name of being a controversial passer, was at it again as he seemed to touch the side of Paul Di Resta's Force India, just as Maldonado passed the Scotsman. Maldonado was immediately handed a drive through penalty, as the stewards found the Venezuelan guilty for causing a collision.
By lap 53, the battle for the lead was extremely captivating as â€œIcemanâ€ Raikkonen was back to his very best catching Hamilton, with the Briton's lead down to a slender 0.9 seconds. Webber was the lone front runner on the soft tyres, as the Aussie was running a steady 5th, but on wearing tyres. The Red Bull team called in Webber to swap to another set of the soft tyres, as he dropped back to 8th place.
The stage was set for a grandstand finish as there were 5 World Champions in the top 6, as Vettel pitted for a 3rd and final time, to swap to the soft tyres. The German came back out on track just in front of the charging Ferrari of Alonso, as the duo had a scintillating battle albeit only for a few corners.
Meanwhile, Schumacher at the end of the field retired, an astute move from the Mercedes team since they can now change machinery on the veteran Germans car for the next race without a penalty being imposed. Vettel showed sparkling pace on his fresh set of tyres as he charged to snatch Grosjean for the final spot on the podium.
It was a finale to behold as Hamilton held firm to win a cat and mouse game, while Raikkonen took a brilliant second place to the delight of the horde of Finnish fans on track. His teammate Grosjean finishing on the last step on the podium in 3rdplace. Vettel ran out of laps to close in on Grosjean, as he finished in 4th place, with championship leader heading into the summer break, Alonso driving a damage-limitation race to finish in 5th place.
Button finished in a lowly 6th place, as he was the biggest loser after the round of pit stops, as Bruno Senna converted a strong start to the weekend into a fine 7th place for the Williams team. Webber could only manage an 8th place finish, with Massa finishing in 9th place in the sister Ferrari, with Rosberg finishing in 10th place to collect the final championship points.
Top 10: Hamilton, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Vettel, Alonso, Button, Senna, Webber, Massa, Rosberg.
File Photograph Copyright: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 2011
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