Monday, July 27, 2009

Hamilton Wins Hungarian GP

Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton finally ended his winless run Sunday when he came home triumphant for McLaren in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The 24-year-old Englishman, who started from fourth on the grid, drove a near-faultless race to claim victory for the first time since last year's Chinese Grand Prix.
It was the 10th win of his career.

Hamilton's win endorsed emphatically the McLaren team's return to form after a dismal opening half to 2009 on a weekend overshadowed by Saturday's horrific accident during qualifying that left Brazilian Felipe Massa with severe head injuries.

Massa, 28, underwent surgery in a Budapest hospital on Saturday evening and a Ferrari statement on Sunday said he was stable and in an induced coma.

Hamilton won by 11.5 seconds ahead of Massa's Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen with Australian Mark Webber third for Red Bull, two weeks after his maiden victory in Germany.

Pole-sitter and two-time former champion Fernando Alonso of Renault was forced to retire after leading the opening laps when he lost his front right wheel.

World championship leader Jenson Button of Brawn GP endured a tough afternoon and struggled home seventh behind fourth-placed German Nico Rosberg of Williams, Finn Heikki Kovalainen of McLaren and German Timo Glock who was sixth for Toyota.

"Just what is wrong with this car?" lamented Button who leads the title race on 70 points from Webber on 51.5 with Sebastian Vettel, forced to retire after an opening corner collision, third on 47.

Button added: "I don't understand it. The other teams have improved for sure, but our car is just not what it was a few races ago anymore. I don't understand it and it is not running as it did at the start of the season."

Italian Jarno Trulli finished eighth for Toyota.

After Massa's dreadful accident there was a sombre mood in the build-up to the race. Shortly before the start, the Ferrari team lifted a banner declaring 'Forza Felipe, Si Amo Con Te.'

Alonso made a great start, but there was drama behind him in the rush to the opening corner where Hamilton, pushing hard using his KERS, swept through from fourth to second, but out-braked himself and conceded one place to Webber as the field settled down. Button fell to ninth and Barrichello to 19th while Vettel who started second was dumped down to eighth.

In the fight for space, exiting the first turn, Vettel's car was in a collision with the fast-starting Ferrari of Raikkonen, who also touched Hamilton. In the chaos, Force India's German Adrian Sutil was knocked out of the race with over-heating problems.

On lap five, Hamilton went on the attack and flew past Webber at the end of the straight through turns one and two to take second.

Six laps later, Alonso came in early for his first pit-stop because of tyre-graining problems and he rejoined 10th. His front right tyre was not fitted properly, however, and as he pushed to regain places a piece of debris flew off that wheel.

Only a minute later, the right front wheel flew off and bounced across the track and away without causing any further danger - a spectre that had raised itself following the two accidents caused by debris in the last week.

Alonso, on three wheels, had to cruise back to the Renault pits where he was forced to retire, Hamilton inheriting the lead and enjoying it for the first time this year.

Alonso said: "I had a great start and the team did a lot of work for that. But we had tyre problems and also the fuel pump. It could be something to do with the rim of a wheel. But it was great to lead the race again."

More drama followed on lap 19, when Raikkonen - warned by the race stewards that he faces an investigation for his aggression on the opening lap - came into the pits for the first time, followed closely by Webber.

Webber's pit-stop was wrecked by a fuel hose problem and he almost collided with Raikkonen as he came out again. This setback meant both Red Bulls were struggling to match their grid positions. Hamilton made his first stop after 20 laps and when the early stops were done was 2.8 seconds clear of Button, yet to stop.

Hamilton then stayed out in front and controlled the race from the front, leaving his rivals to chase for points as the pit-stops came and went as he drove without making a single error to grab one of the best wins of his career.

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