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Hamilton Back on Top in Hungary

July 26, 2009

Lewis Hamilton made a spectacular come-back in Hungary this afternoon, after claiming his first win of the 2009 season.

The reigning world champion made a charging start from fourth on the grid, almost making it round the first corner in second. While former teammate Fernando Alonso took an early lead, Hamilton went about chasing down second-placed Mark Webber, who had started third, successfully passing him on lap 4.

Alonso, the lightest driver on the grid, pitted earlier than expected on lap 11, gifting the lead to Lewis. After suffering from a loose wheel in the following lap, which he lost out on the track, Alonso soon retired, and from there Lewis stayed in P1 for the remainder of the race, leading Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen in second and third respectively, into the first round of pitstops.

From there on he was in control, maintaining his lead after the first round of pitstops, and through the second. In the final stint he built up a 17sec lead over Kimi Raikkonen, and after crossing the line for the final time, he thanked his team over the radio, for giving him a car that “is so nice to drive”. It just goes to show how far McLaren have come to turn things around from just a few races ago.

After the race he said the team had not expected to win, but the car felt fantastic. He said: “It is an incredible feeling to be back here after what feels such a long time” adding: “It is incredibily special to get back up here. It’s amazing.”

A mistake by the Red Bull mechanics in Webber’s first stop, gifted second place to Raikkonen, with the former being released into the latter’s path by his pit crew, narrowly avoiding a collision, after time was lost removing the fuel rig. Raikkonen maintained second for the remainder of the race, finishing ahead of Webber in third. However, the Finn is under investigation following incidents with Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in the first few corners of the race, where he nudged both drivers, something Vettel claims caused his front suspension failure, and ultimately his retirement. If penalised, Raikkonen could lose his second place with a 25 second penalty.

Championship leader Jenson Button could only hope for damage limitation after qualifying down in eighth. A win from Lewis proved to be in favour of the Brawn team, minimising the points available to Webber and Vettel. With both Hamilton and Raikkonen’s charge off the start, and Vettel retiring, Button lost only 2.5 points.

New on the grid in Hungary was Jaime Alguersuari, the youngest ever starter of an F1 race, who managed to finished ahead of more experienced teammate Sebastien Buemi in 15th. Alguersuari had started at the back of the grid, following problems in qualifying.

Lewis Hamilton’s win has put McLaren back in the game, with it being the first under new team principal Martin Whitmarsh, and the first from a KERS equipped car. After failing to score any points in the last few races, it puts Hamilton up to eighth in the drivers standings, with 19 points, having been out of the top ten for a series of races. Jenson Button retains the lead of the championship on 70 points, with Webber in second on 51.5.

 

Formula One now takes its summer break, and will return to Valencia in four weeks time, with qualifying on Saturday 22nd August, and the race live on BBC One on the 23rd. For now, the attention turns back to Felipe Massa, who everyone will be hoping makes a full recovery following his crash in qualifying yesterday. He is expected to remain in a medically induced coma for the next couple of days to aid his recovery.

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