Formula 1 will finally take a break for three weeks following on from the action packed Hungarian Grand Prix. One week on from the German Grand Prix it did not appear likely that yet another thriller of a race would follow.
By Dinouk Colombage
The pundits were wrong, the wet weather and poor team strategies made for yet another exciting contest between the top five drivers.
With Sebastian Vettel securing pole at the Hungaroring in Budapest ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, it was looking like another victory for the German driver. For the first four laps it certainly appeared that way, until the rain returned to allow Hamilton’s McLaren to edge past Vettel on the fifth lap. Button quickly overtook Vettel on lap 11 and ensured that his partner opened up a big enough advantage. For the next twenty nine laps it looked like the Briton was cruising home to his third victory of the season.
The rain returned and once again it laid victim to the race leader. Hamilton suffered a half spin allowing his team mate (Button) to close down the gap. For Hamilton his race began to fall apart, while Button’s suddenly picked up. Both Britons traded positions constantly up until lap 52 when Hamilton pitted and opted for the intermediate tyres. This was the start of his downfall as the track began to dry up resulting in him having to pit yet again to switch back to the soft tyres. His nightmare pit runs did not end there with him being forced to serve a drive through penalty.
Button’s race benefited greatly from the decision to switch to the soft tyres, and then his resistance to switch to the intermediate tyres along with Hamilton. His closest competitor was Sebastian Vettel, who was forced to ease off the pace with a minor brake problem.
Australia’s Mark Webber had a torrid time in qualifying, leaving him sixth on the grid behind both Ferraris, both McLarens and his team mate. His race got worse when he was bundled down the pack at the start of the race seeing him drop to ninth on the grid. He fought back amicably to jump five spots to fourth, where for half the race he found himself racing his teammate Vettel. His decision to switch to the intermediate tyres caused concerns as he was forced to fight off the advances of both Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Having been passed by Alonso, due to the team’s poor tyre strategy, Webber was left with the task of defending against a McLaren better suited to the conditions. As the two drivers closed in on a pack of black markers, who were also fighting for track position, Webber left open the racing line allowing Hamilton to overtake him and secure fourth spot.
Outside of Button’s victory during his two hundredth grand prix, many drivers were left to rue missed opportunities and poor decisions. As the formula 1 season takes a short summer break, the driver’s championship continues to be keenly contested. Sebastian Vettel continues to lead the pack with 234 points; Webber sits in second spot with 149, while Hamilton holds third spot with 146. Fernando Alonso is in fourth with 145 while Button is slowly closing in with 134 points.