• Hungarian Grand Prix

Hamilton takes maiden Mercedes win

ESPN Staff
July 28, 2013
Lewis Hamilton withstood the attentions of Sebastian Vettel early on © Sutton Images

Lewis Hamilton took his first victory for Mercedes with an impressive performance at an exciting Hungarian Grand Prix.

Having started from pole position, Hamilton retained the lead into Turn 1 and was able to edge away from those behind, executing a three-stop strategy to eventually bring home a comfortable win by 11 seconds.

It was a close battle between Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel for second place in the last ten laps of the race as Vettel closed in on the Lotus on much fresher tyres but was unable to find a way past despite attacking on numerous occasions. Mark Webber had an impressive race to finish fourth - 5.5s behind his team-mate - having started back in tenth.

Romain Grosjean endured a disappointing afternoon as he finished sixth behind Fernando Alonso having been in contention for victory early on. Grosjean made contact with Jenson Button and cut the chicane before pulling an impressive move on Felipe Massa around the outside of Turn 4. However, he was hit with a drive-through penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

Having taken his penalty Grosjean rejoined behind Alonso and was unable to find a way past the Ferrari. Jenson Button finished seventh in the improving McLaren - albeit 53s behind Hamilton - having been on a two-stop strategy that left him fighting with the leaders on many occasions.

The start was always going to be a crucial part of the race and Hamilton hooked up a perfect one to lead comfortably into the first corner. Vettel found himself under attack from Grosjean but managed to hold the Lotus as Alonso also tried to join the fun in the top three at Turn 2. Nico Rosberg made a good start off the line only to find himself fending off and making contact with Felipe Massa at turn five, which was the start of slippery slope for the Mercedes driver. After sustaining damage, his race eventually ended with a plume of smoke from the right bank of his Mercedes engine five laps from the end.

In the opening stint Hamilton was looking strong out in front with few signs of the rear tyre issues he had feared after Friday practice. Vettel's attention continued to be drawn by Grosjean, who appeared to have the fastest race car early in the race and was filling the mirrors of the Red Bull.

Hamilton was the first of the top three to pit on lap 10 and resumed behind Jenson Button. Button was on medium tyres and a two-stop strategy so Hamilton had to find a way past to make his strategy work and he executed a clean move into Turn 1 with the perfect demonstration of controlled aggression that epitomised his race.

Vettel pitted two laps later after a sloppy in-lap and he too came out behind Button but had a harder time finding a way past. After five laps staring at the McLaren's gearbox, he attempted a move at Turn 3 but clipped Button and damaged his front wing. He was then told to monitor his engine temperature and it was not until lap 24 that he found a way past Button with a brave move on the inside of Turn 4. In all, Vettel lost roughly 13 seconds to Hamilton while being stuck behind the McLaren and it proved to be crucial in the outcome of the race.

Grosjean tried to follow Vettel past Button at the following chicane but it was a clumsy execution and he made contact by squeezing the McLaren too close to the edge of the track. He did not receive a penalty at the time but a retrospective 20 second penalty was added after the race, although he held onto sixth by 1.5s. He was penalised during the race for a move on Massa a few laps later, when he hung his car on the ragged edge around the outside of Turn 4. He left the track by a matter of centimetres and was rather harshly hit with a drive-through penalty as a result, dropping him out of podium contention.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, had been making slow progress through the field in the sister Lotus. It was becoming clear he would not get anywhere near the podium with a three-stop strategy and so when he came in for his second stop on lap 43 he was tasked by the pit wall with making his new set of tyres last until the end of the race. Vettel stuck to his guns on a three stop and, with tyres that were 13 laps fresher, reeled in the Lotus for an attack over the final 11 laps.

Vettel did not have the top speed to trouble Raikkonen into Turn 1 but was much quicker in through the remainder of sector one. His best chance came on lap 68 at Turn 4, but as he attempted to pass on the outside, Raikkonen was wise to the move and hung him out to dry. Vettel made his protestations over the radio, but there was no case to answer for Raikkonen, who merely stuck to his line.

Hamilton crossed the line three laps later with a comfortable lead as Raikkonen, 28 laps after his final pit stop, took second before immediately parking his Lotus at the end of the pit lane. Vettel looked frustrated to finish third but still extended his lead in the drivers' championship to 38 points with Raikkonen now second. Honourable mentions should also go to the McLaren drivers who finished in the top ten and Pastor Maldonado who took Williams' first point of 2013 in tenth.