The Hungarian GP proved to be an intriguing and unpredictable race, and given that the man himself said after qualifying that he was not looking forward to Sunday, not many people expected Lewis Hamilton to stay in front for 70 laps. But he did just that and he did it in style, helped by some decisive passes that made sure that he was in clean air and not stuck behind cars that were out of sequence. Sebastian Vettel, in contrast, did get stuck, and also damaged his front wing, and for once the German and his RBR team simply didn’t get it right. It was a great performance, too, from Kimi Raikkonen, who worked his way from sixth to second and made two stops work. Here’s how the weekend panned out among the 11 teams:
From the start of practice, Hungary looked like being a Red Bull weekend as the blue cars dominated Friday, but come qualifying Sebastian Vettel lost pole to Lewis Hamilton, and a KERS issue saw Mark Webber down in 10th after he didn’t do a flying lap in Q3. Vettel ran second in the first stint, but crucially after pitting he got caught behind late stopper Jensen Button. He also damaged his wing trying to get past. As the final pit stops played out, he dropped to third, and was unable to pass Raikkonen, despite having fresher tires. Webber started on the prime tire and led for a few laps before his late first stop. He eventually finished fourth.
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were fourth and fifth, respectively, on Friday, and that translated into fifth and seventh come qualifying. Alonso got ahead of Nico Rosberg on the first lap but it was soon apparent that Ferrari was struggling badly for race pace, and he was never a contender for a podium. In fact, Alonso ultimately lost out to Mark Webber, and thus unusually finished in the same place he started, fifth. Massa made contact with Rosberg on the first lap and carried front-wing damage throughout. Struggling like his teammate for pace, he finished eighth.
A good session with its test drivers at Silverstone appeared to have given McLaren a boost, and Sergio Perez was quick in FP3 before crashing. The team finished repairs late, but the Mexican managed to make Q3 and earn ninth. Jenson Button, meanwhile, was down in 12th. The tables were turned in the race, however, as Button made a great start to get into eighth. Running on primes, he ran third ahead of Sebastian Vettel before his first stop. He survived contact with the RBR and Romain Grosjean, and his two-stop strategy earned him seventh place. Perez struggled on used primes in the opening stint on the way to ninth.
Third place for Romain Grosjean on Friday pointed to a good weekend for Lotus, and the Frenchman matched that in qualifying. Kimi Raikkonen struggled more to get the most out of the revised Pirellis, and was down in sixth. Grosjean ran third in the early laps, and after his late first stop got stuck behind Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button. Later, he made contact with Button before receiving a drive through for going wide to pass Felipe Massa. He finished sixth and, luckily, a 20-second penalty for the Button incident did not affect his result. Raikkonen did a brilliant job to use a two-stop strategy to rise from sixth to second.
Mercedes missed the Silverstone test but there was little sign of any impact as Lewis Hamilton took pole, and Nico Rosberg fourth, despite a problem with his brake balance adjuster. Hamilton had a strong opening stint on the soft tire and stayed safely clear of Sebastian Vettel. Some decisive passing moves after stops meant he didn’t get stuck behind cars that had yet to pit, and after a faultless performance, he logged his first 2013 victory. Rosberg’s race was ruined on the first lap when he made contact with Felipe Massa and dropped to 12th. He was running ninth when his engine failed with six laps to go, and he was classified 19th.
Nico Hulkenberg wasn’t far away from making Q3, but the disappointed German had to settle for 12th. Esteban Gutierrez, meanwhile, missed the crucial FP3 session due to an engine issue, and could not better 17th. Hulkenberg lost several places at the start, which didn’t make his life any easier, but a two-stop strategy had him on course for a potential 10th and a useful point – until he was handed a drive through for pit speeding, the result of a gear change issue. He finished 11th. After a frustrating weekend, Gutierrez retired with a gearbox failure on lap 29.
Force India struggled more than most to adapt to the revised tires. For his 100th GP start, Adrian Sutil just missed Q3 and started 11th, but Paul Di Resta had no grip on the softs in Q1, and was left stranded in 17th. Sutil lost three places on the first lap and thus didn’t get the full advantage of starting on the prime tire. He rose to eighth before his late first stop, but a hydraulic problem led to retirement after 19 laps. Di Resta gained ground on the first lap, but his three-stop strategy didn’t pay off. He was told to stop due to a hydraulic issue with four laps to go, and was classified 18th.
Daniel Ricciardo continued his great run of qualifying performances by taking ninth place, while Jean-Eric Vergne again struggled to match the Australian, and started 14th. Ricciardo lost a place at the start and ran ninth, but it was clear that once again Toro Rosso struggled in race conditions in hot weather. After stopping twice, he finished 13th. In fact, despite losing two places on the first lap, Vergne’s choice of three stops ultimately proved to be more successful, and the Frenchman jumped ahead of his teammate to claim 12th, albeit by a tiny margin.
Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas breezed through Q1 but, unlike rivals, they struggled to improve in Q2, and had to settle for 15th and 16th place, respectively. Maldonado had a good first lap, however, and by jumping up to 11th gave himself a shot at the points. He ran a three-stop strategy and was still 11th in the closing laps when Nico Rosberg’s retirement handed him 10th place and gave the team its first 2013 point. Bottas didn’t have a great first lap and was well outside the points when a hydraulic failure caused him to retire at the final corner after 42 laps.
Caterham appeared to have taken a step ahead of Marussia in Hungary, as Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde lined up 19th and 20th, respectively, and with a bigger margin than of late on their rivals. Once again, the Dutchman had a good first lap, getting ahead of both his teammate and Valtteri Bottas, although the latter was soon back past. The two green cars were on different strategies, with Van der Garde stopping three times and Pic just once. In the end, the former choice proved to be better, and Van der Garde emerged from his final stop just ahead of Pic. They crossed the line in 14th and 15th place, respectively, some six seconds apart.
Both Marussia drivers admitted to making mistakes on their quick laps, although the Caterhams were in any case out reach. Jules Bianchi took 21st spot while teammate Max Chilton was a respectable 0.2 seconds behind. In contrast to Caterham, both drivers started on the prime tire aiming to do a long opening stint, and they found the balance very difficult. Neither man gained any positions on the first lap. They got the softs out of the way in the second stint and, after both running three-stop strategies, they finished 16th and 17th, respectively, with Chilton having dropped behind to the tune of 42 seconds.