The Formula 1 series moved from Germany to Hungary, running on back-to-back weekends heading into its month-long summer break. Practice and qualifying in Hockenheim was marked by rain, with the race occurring in dry weather. This situation was reversed in Budapest, with dust making the track slippery during qualifying and a 100% chance of rain forecast for the race.
Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) snagged the pole, with Romain Grosjean (Lotus) qualifying on the front row for the first time in P2 and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) in P3. Jenson Button rounded out the second row in P4, putting McLaren, winner of 4 of the last 5 Hungarian GPs, in good position to rise to the top once again. Less stellar performances were turned in by Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber (P11) and the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg (P13) and Michael Schumacher (P17).
The grid formed under clear blue skies, though an 80% chance of rain was still included in the official forecast. Webber was the only driver in the top 12 to start on the prime tires. A technical malfunction with the starting lights saw the gird form only to be released for a second formation lap. Once the grid reformed, Schumacher failed to get his car rolling forward, saying “the engine just stopped.” Schumi started from the pits in last.
Button took third from Vettel during the first few turns, with Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) also putting pressure on the German. Schumacher, meanwhile, pitted to change tires. Webber rose to P7 by Lap 4, while Schumacher served a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. Lap 14: Hamilton, Grosjean, Button, Vettel, Alonso as the Top 5.
Button pitted from P3, with Vettel and Alonso both coming in one lap later on 18. Button maintained his position, while Hamilton and Grosjean played cat-and-mouse with who would pit first from the Top 2. Hamilton came in, Grosjean stayed out. Hamilton’s stop took 4.2 seconds of standing time, leaving the door open for the Lotus. Grosjean, however, was even slower, at 4.9 stationary.
Grosjean changed to used soft tires and by Lap 25 had closed to within 1 sec of Hamilton, allowing DRS use. The gains were short-lived, however, as Hamilton began to pull away almost immediately, stretching the lead to 2.4 sec by Lap 28. Lotus ascribed the losses to Grosjean going offline into the marbles. Grosjean once again narrowed the gap as both he and Hamilton were held up by a Marussia back marker.
At the halfway mark the Top 5 stood as Hamilton, Grosjean, Button, Vettel, and Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus). Button once again started the pit cycle on Lap 35, with a very quick stop at 2.8 sec. He came out behind Bruno Senna (Williams), however, who did a good job defending his position. A new strategy called from the engineers for both Button and Hamilton was not enthusiastically received. Hamilton began to voice complaints about the back markers not moving out of the way while Vettel flew into the pits strong enough to require a lockup at the box, but made it past Button in the process. Hamilton and McLaren got the better of Grosjean and Lotus on the second round of pits as well.
Senna pitted on Lap 43, clearing the path anew for Button. Raikkonen was urged to keep the pedal to the floor in the run up to the pits from the lead. He came out wheel-to-wheel with Grosjean on pit exit and gently nudged his teammate to hold P2 behind Hamilton. The Lap 49 Top 5 stood as Hamilton, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Vettel, Webber, with all scheduled stops thought completed. Raikkonen was gaining 0.4 sec/lap on Hamilton, standing 2.6 behind with 19 to go and 1.3 sec with 17 left.
Webber took a final stop, however, dropping behind Alonso in the process. Vettel also took a late stop on Lap 59, keeping Alonso behind him in P5 despite the Ferrari’s best efforts to take the position. Schumacher retired. Hamilton’s lead remained at 1.2 sec with three laps remaining.
Hamilton held on to take his second victory of the year and leapfrog Raikkonen to move to fourth in the season standings. The rest of the Top 5 comprised Raikkonen, Grosjean Vettel, and Alonso. Lotus joined McLaren as the only teams of the year to put both cars on the same podium. Webber acquitted himself well, finishing P8. Just 4 points separated Ferrari, McLaren, and Lotus for second place in the constructor’s standings, with Red Bull in the front.
@F1grid reported Hamilton remarking “Like old times Kimi,” as the two made their way to the podium.
Driver standings - Top 10
164 - Fernando Alonso (Spain) - Ferrari
124 - Mark Webber (Australia) - RBR-Renault
122 - Sebastian Vettel (Germany) - RBR-Renault
117 - Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain) - McLaren-Mercedes
116 – Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) – Lotus-Renault
77 - Nico Rosberg (Germany) – Mercedes
76 - Jenson Button (Great Britain) - McLaren-Mercedes
76 – Romain Grosjean (France) – Lotus-Renault
47 – Sergio Perez (Mexico) – Sauber-Ferrari
33 – Kamui Kobayashi (Japan) Sauber-Ferrari
Constructor standings - Teams scoring points
246 - RBR-Renault - Vettel, Webber
193 - Ferrari - Alonso, Felipe Massa
192 - McLaren-Mercedes - Hamilton, Button
189 – Lotus-Renault – Raikkonen, Grosjean
106 - Mercedes - Rosberg, Michael Schumacher
80 - Sauber-Ferrari – Perez, Kobayashi
53 - Williams-Renault – Pastor Maldonado, Bruno Senna
46 – Force India-Mercedes – Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg
6 – STR-Ferrari – Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne
Next event: 2012 FORMULA 1 SHELL BELGIAN GRAND PRIX – Spa-Francorchamps – Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2012