Button takes a win in his 200th Grand Prix
Jenson Button has commemorated his 200th Grand Prix start with a scintillating win of strategy in Hungary overnight.
The Briton, who won his first Grand Prix at the Hungaroring in 2006, came from negotiated a green circuit and two rain sessions to take his 12th career victory and second of the season.
Jenson Button’s 200th Grand Prix
‘For some reason I like these conditions, don’t ask me why’, said Button after the race. ‘All round, an amazing weekend’.
‘A great call by the team to put me on the prime tyres when they did.’
‘I think we’re going into the break on nice high.’
He led home championship leader Sebastian Vettel who, despite not taking victory for the past four rounds, has extended his championship lead to 85 points over teammate Webber.
‘I couldn’t push as hard as I would like to’, commented Vettel. ‘Second today was an important step. Nevertheless, I think the win was in reach today and we didn’t get it’.
‘It’s clear now that they [McLaren] have done a step forward and we need to make sure we come back.’
Fernando Alonso completed the podium with a strong third place finish, confirming Ferrari’s return to form is able to persist through all conditions.
Red Bull, Ferrari on equal footing
‘I think we are confident that we can do a good second part of the championship,’ said the Spaniard, believing Ferrari and McLaren’s pace bodes well for the rest of the season.
‘We’re fighting for podiums and pole positions. It was a fantastic month, we’re the drivers that have scored the most points.’
‘I think the team did a step forward. McLaren also did a good step forward, so the competition quite fun to watch.’
Lewis Hamilton, despite leading for the better part of 40 laps, was caught out by a brief second spell of rain starting on lap four.
He made a call to switch back from slicks to intermediates after he lost control of his car as the track lost grip. It would be a costly decision, with McLaren recalling the car only two laps later to revert to the prime tyre.
Matters would only get worse for Hamilton as the stewards handed down a drive-through penalty for forcing another car from the track as he recovered from his spin. He did well to hold fourth place.
Mark Webber suffered his obligatory leisurely start, falling from sixth to eighth within a matter of corners. He moved his way up the field, however, and maximised Red Bull’s decision to utilise the harder prime tyre to improve his qualification position by one place.
Felipe Massa failed to capitalise on his first outqualifying of teammate Alonso, leading home the rest of the top ten by seven seconds.
di Resta, Buemi, Rosberg, and Alguersuari spent the final ten laps battling each other of seventh place, as well as a defensive Kobayashi on an ailing set of supersoft tyres. The Japanese would eventually finish almost 20 seconds behind the pack in P11.
The battle for victory in Hungary was fraught with poor weather that allowed not only Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren a tilt at the podium, but Mercedes too during the early parts of the race.
The race started on a wet rack, with each car setting off on set of intermediate tyres. Despite the rainfall being light, a night of heavier rain cleaned the track of grip, resulting in a rush to the first corner that sent many cars understeering wide.
Hamilton, however, set about harrying Sebastian Vettel, whose Red Bull lacked its pace in the wet conditions. His pressure would pay off by lap five, at which point Vettel lost grip and went wide into turn two.
Webber and Massa were the first of the drivers to test the slick tyres, with sectors two and three now distinctly dry despite sector one remaining wet. The gamble payed off, with Webber setting a fastest lap on his second time around on the supersoft tyre.
As the entire field began to migrate to the dry tyre, Mercedes’ initially promising start – with both of their driver springing up to fourth off the line – turned sour with Rosberg experiencing heavy tyre wear and Michael Schumacher stalling his car in a spin.
Fernando Alonso found himself with the familiar sight of Mark Webber’s gearbox by lap 34, where he stayed until the third round of pit stops. Webber, too, was caught out by a premature switch to intermediates along with Hamilton, and payed the price for his extra stop.
Exhaust failure on Heidfeld’s R31
Nick Heidfeld provided some mid-race drama when his car caught fire after it overheated in its pit box.
As the German left the pit lane, the car let off smoke before combusting, leaving Heidfeld with no choice but to ditch his R31 on the pit lane exit.
Controversially, Charlie Whiting opted not to deploy the safety car, a decision which almost led to a collision between a team of marshalls and Sebastian Vettel on lap 29.
Sebastian Vettel leads the championship into the midseason break, with only three more wins needed for him to wrap up the 2011 Drivers’ Championship.
His team, Red Bull, also lead the Contructors’ Championship by 103 points over nearest rivals McLaren.
Formula One heads into a four-week mid-season break, and will return for round 12 for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on 28 August.