• Hungarian Grand Prix

Hamilton holds off Raikkonen in Hungary

ESPN Staff
July 29, 2012

Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix as he withstood race-long pressure from first Romain Grosjean and then Kimi Raikkonen.

Hamilton never led by more than three seconds from Grosjean in the first stint, and then in the final stint he had Raikkonen within two seconds for the final 15 laps but was able to hold off the Lotus on the tight circuit to eventually win by just one second.

Grosjean came home third, just ahead of Sebastian Vettel who gambled on a late third stop to try and grab a spot on the podium but fell short. Fernando Alonso finished fifth and extended his championship lead to 40 points as he crossed the line ahead of Jenson Button, Bruno Senna, Mark Webber, Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg.

The race was one of strategy, with the DRS proving ineffective and overtaking opportunities at a premium around the Hungaroring. Following an aborted start where Michael Schumacher stalled on the grid, the grid got away second time. Hamilton led away from Grosjean, who's defence on Vettel saw Button get through in to third place. Webber got a strong start from 11th to help his chances on the medium tyres as he climbed to seventh by the end of the first lap.

Although Hamilton had threatened to streak away in the opening two laps, Grosjean soon pegged the gap and started to edge back towards the McLaren. With the field having settled down elsewhere it became clear that the race would hinge on pit stops and tyre management on a track where temperatures reached 46C.

The first round of stops saw Button stay ahead of Vettel, but Grosjean was gaining on Hamilton and he looked in with a chance of taking the lead when he pitted one lap after the McLaren. Unfortunately a slow stop from Lotus meant he was unable to jump Hamilton and the status quo remained.

Vettel and Grosjean had put on soft tyres compared to the mediums of the McLarens, and Vettel was irate on the radio to his team as he told Red Bull that he was much quicker than Button and to "try something" to pass him. With the second round of stops crucial it turned out to be Button who blinked first and rejoined behind Senna - allowing Vettel to jump ahead when he pitted.

Grosjean and Hamilton retained position after their stops but with Raikkonen running quickly - and longer - than anyone else he was able to jump from fifth place up to second by robustly muscling out his Lotus team-mate in to turn one.

Having swiftly closed the gap to Hamilton at the front, Raikkonen followed for a few laps before telling his team that he would be unable to get past unless Hamilton's rear tyres start to go off. Ultimately it never happened, but Vettel gambled on tyre issues for those in front by pitting with ten laps left, and he closed to within a second of Grosjean by the chequered flag.

It was a miserable day for Schumacher, who received a drive through for speeding in the pit lane trying to take up his new position after the aborted start, and then pit three more times before retiring with 11 laps still to go; the sixth time he has failed to win a race this season.