F1 2013: Hungarian Grand Prix Race Recap

Lewis Hamilton won the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix from pole, though that seemingly lights to flag finish belied the surprisingly thrilling grand prix. The race started with an exciting start as a number of drivers shifted though the standings and pushed through the first lap. Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel stood on the podium with Hamilton after engaging in their own last lap battle. Mark Webber went with a medium-medium-medium-soft strategy and gave catching his teammate his best shot in the final ten laps, but ended up fourth. Despite pushing hard on the start and through the race, Fernando Alonso finished fifth.

As the race continued, Romain Grosjean looked set to pass anyone in any way at Turn 4. That charging spirit would give him a drive through penalty and a post-race investigation that allowed him to finish only sixth. Jenson Button made a great difference in the race, giving Vettel a hard time early on for twelve laps and featuring largely in Grosjean’s battles. He finished seventh. Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez, and Pastor Maldonado rounded out the top ten finishers. After a dismal start, Nico Rosberg’s day never recovered, and his day ended when his Mercedes engine expired in the final five laps.

Results of the 2013 Hungarian Grand Prix

DRIVER TEAM GAP STOPS
1.  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes  3
2.  Kimi Raikkonen  Lotus  10.9  2
3.  Sebastian Vettel  Red Bull  12.4  3
4.  Mark Webber  Red Bull  18.0  3
5.  Fernando Alonso  Ferrari  31.4  3
6.  Romain Grosjean  Lotus  32.2  4
7.  Jenson Button  McLaren  53.8  2
8.  Felipe Massa  Ferrari  56.4  3
9.  Sergio Perez  McLaren  1 Lap  2
10.  Pastor Maldonado  Williams  1 Lap  3
11.  Nico Hulkenberg  Sauber  1 Lap  3
12.  Jean-Eric Vergne  Toro Rosso  1 Lap  3
13.  Daniel Ricciardo  Toro Rosso  1 Lap  2
14.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham  2 Laps  3
15.  Charles Pic  Caterham  2 Laps  2
16.  Jules Bianchi  Marussia  3 Laps  3
17.  Max Chilton  Marussia  3 Laps  3
 Paul di Resta  Force India  4 Laps  4
 Nico Rosberg  Mercedes  6 Laps  3
 Valtteri Bottas  Williams  28 Laps  2
 Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber  42 Laps  2
 Adrian Sutil  Force India  51 Laps  1

Hamilton made a splash during Saturday’s three qualifying sessions, stealing pole from Vettel who was unable to answer the Mercedes’ single lap pace. Though Vettel led two of the three practice sessions, and Red Bull looked set to dominate qualifying as well, Mercedes fought back. Rosberg led the timesheets in Q1 and Q2, but Hamilton took pole in the final moments of qualifying after the flag. Vettel’s first hot lap in the final session took eight tenths off Hamilton’s previously provisional pole, taking control back from the Briton. It did not last, as Hamilton soon improved, and Vettel could not match Hamilton’s new pace.

Webber had an even worse qualifying, nearly dropping out in Q2. He managed to push forward, but a KERS issue grounded him without a set time in Q3. He stormed out to the back of the garage and gave several angry interviews after qualifying. Also clearly upset, di Resta wondered over the radio “where did that go? Where did the tires and grip go?” after the session.

Vettel had an excellent Friday, as he and Webber made both hour and a half practice sessions Red Bull 1-2. Alonso, Raikkonen, Grosjean, and Massa each spent time joining the Red Bull duo in the top five. On Saturday, Grosjean took the lead. Alonso, Perez, Vettel, and Massa joined him. Despite, or perhaps because of, his hard charging pace, Perez ended his session in the barriers. That left the McLaren crew little time to repair the car, though they managed to do so without replacing the gearbox.

The Sunday sun shone brightly as the drivers and teams prepared for lights out. Hamilton and Vettel started on the front row, with Grosjean and Rosberg on the second. Alonso and Raikkonen completed the front three rows of starters. Perez and Webber drove out to the grid on the harder medium tires, as did Sutil, Button, Gutierrez, Bianchi, and Chilton. Most teams seemed only able to do a three stop, while it appeared likely that Lotus would again attempt to undercut the rest of the field with a two-stopper. Rosberg headed out to the grid, but Mercedes called him back to the garage before he could make the grid after he felt a vibration. He gridded normally soon thereafter.

Race Start:
Hamilton got off the line well, but Vettel did not. The start was even more frantic than usual as Rosberg looked for a way through on his countryman, as did Grosjean. Alonso attempted to dive through on Grosjean, having already taken a position off Rosberg as well. Grosjean pushed the Spaniard wide to keep position. Rosberg also went wide, then locked up and went three wide while fighting and off again after contact with Massa. Drivers pushed hard on the first lap on this difficult to pass circuit, with Hamilton over a second ahead of Vettel at the end of L1. Grosjean, Alonso, Massa, Raikkonen, Webber, Button, Ricciardo, and Perez were then the top ten.

Vettel caught Hamilton up on the second lap, dropping the gap down to a half second b the time L2 ended. Rosberg had dropped from fourth to twelfth, while Webber moved up to seventh, the leading driver on the harder tire. As the early laps ticked by, Hamilton picked up the pace and eked out a half second on Vettel. Grosjean sat just over a second behind Vettel, with Alonso dropping off the pace. At the end of L4, he was four and a half seconds back from Grosjean. Meanwhile, Raikkonen had nearly caught up Massa.

Lotus’ pace continued as Grosjean gained time on Vettel even as Alonso drifted further behind. The Ferrari driver had a two second cushion with his teammate behind. Massa had Raikkonen close but not yet worrying him from behind as the first ten laps neared completion. On the radio, Rob Smedley asked Massa if he felt the difference with his damaged front wing. After dropping down to twelfth from that contact with Massa, Rosberg remained twelfth and a second behind Maldonado.

First pit stops Begin (L9)/End L10 of 70:
Vergne and van der Garde pitted on L9, but Hamilton led the way to the pits for Maldonado and di Resta on L10. He gave up the race lead and rejoined in eighth, just behind Button. Ricciardo, Rosberg, and Bottas pitted on L11. Back on the track, Massa continued to hold off Raikkonen, but Hamilton had made his way around Button. As Mercedes and McLaren were likely on entirely different strategy, Hamilton’s pass would likely prove very important for the race. Vettel, Massa, and Hulkenberg pitted on L12. As Vettel rejoined, Hamilton had already gone by pit out. Vettel similarly rejoined behind Button, but the Briton would prove more difficult to pass for the German.

Alonso pitted on L13, as both Lotus drivers continued to lap without stopping. Still, Raikkonen had begun complaining of rear tire wear. Though his tires looked as fresh as could be considered, Grosjean relinquished the race lead to pit on L14. Lotus performed perfectly in double pitting both cars. Raikkonen was far enough back for a comfortable margin between servicing both cars. Vettel remained stuck behind Button as Webber took over the race lead without yet stopping.

Hamilton was just over five seconds off Webber, with Button holding Vettel and heating his car in the dirty air. Red Bull told Vettel that he had to ease off a bit to keep the car cool. Apparently, even Webber in the clean air of the lead had also to keep an eye on his hot car. Button was third (having not yet stopped) at L15 ended, with Vettel refusing to back off of the Briton. Grosjean, Alonso, Perez, Sutil, Massa, and Raikkonen then completed the top ten, though neither Perez nor Sutil had yet stopped. Nor had either of the Marussia drivers.

As Vettel continued to attempt to pass Button, the mcLaren’s slower pace had allowed Grosjean to catch up both Button and Vettel. The Frenchman had a go just after Vettel attempted a pass on Button, but the order remained the same. Vettel damaged his front wing endplate even as the team admonished him to cool the car in the second sector. Things only got worse as Red Bull told it’s driver that “we cannot have full power.” Grosjean looked to pass at the end of the DRS zone and into T1, trying twice to go around the outside. He could not pass, but pushed Vettel enough to force the German to slide slightly wide. As this battle continued, Alonso nearly caught up Vettel and Grosjean. Button had managed to gain two seconds on the fray.

End L20 of 70:
Webber still led just under the completion of the first third of the race, but fourth place saw the real battle. Sutil pitted on L20, only to be pushed into the garage. Force India informed him the car had a hydraulic leak via the radio. Back to the running order, Webber still had not pitted, with Hamilton just over four seconds behind. Button, who also had not yet pitted, was another eight back from his former teammate. Vettel had begun to catch Button back up, with Grosjean still directly behind. Alonso was close behind that fight, ready to pick up any fallen pieces of points. Perez, Raikkonen, Massa, and Gutierrez completed the top ten.

Gutierrez, Perez, Button, and Webber had yet to stop on L23, though Chilton picked up his first set of fresh tires of the race on that lap. All those who had not stopped started on the harder tires. Webber finally pitted on L24, at around the time a Lotus radio transmission informed Raikkonen that the team looked for him to do a target plus ten. Lengthening the stint might allow him to undercut others.

Vettel finally made his way through on Button, sliding through at T4. Grosjean looked set to follow, only to cut the chicane on his attempt to keep himself undamaged. Their contact allowed Alonso through on Button as well. Button pitted, swearing on the radio as he informed the team that he had front wing damage, and picked up his first set of soft tires for the race. Grosjean pitted on the next lap (L26) for more medium tires. He rejoined just ahead of Button.

All drivers had pitted at the end of L26. Hamilton led Vettel by more than thirteen seconds, with Alonso, Webber, Raikkonen, Massa, Grosjean, Button, Rosberg, and Maldonado the top ten. Button set a new race fast lap on his fresh softs, but had not yet passed Grosjean. Vettel began pushing very hard, after Hamilton excitedly radioed Mercedes to inquire as to the fitness of his pace.

Second Pit Stops Begin (L28 of 70):
Di Resta then van der Garde pitted on L28 and 29, then Maldonado made his second stop on the next lap. On the track, Massa went wide and allowed Grosjean to stick his nose in. He went around the outside at T4 and nearly got lightly tagged as both he and Massa went wide exiting the turn. Grosjean maintained the sixth position he had just gained, though the stewards had announced that his incident with Button would be investigated. Meanwhile, Gutierrez pitted and also retired.

Vergne pitted on L31, with Hamilton making his seconds stop as he began L32. His former teammate made his move to take seventh from Massa, only to have the Brazilian pt as soon as Button had passed him. Hamilton rejoined in fourth, just behind Webber, while Massa rejoined in tenth. Mercedes gave Hamliton the rundown: Webber and Alonso were ahead on old and very old medium tires, respectively. He needed to pass. Meanwhile, the stewards announced that Grosjean was under a double investigation, also for leaving the track at T4, presumably when he passed Massa.

Halfway (End L35 of 70):
Nearing halfway, Webber went very wide and nearly directly into the path of Hamilton’s Mercedes. Hamilton shoved his way through on the Australian out of T2 and into T3. He was then directly behind Alonso. Vettel pitted from the lead on L35, as Alonso pitted behind him and out of the path of Hamilton. Bottas had snuck into the pits just before. Both Alonso and Vettel remained on the medium compounds, safe to go the second half of the race per the regulations.

Vettel rejoined just behind Button, who also had van der Garde in front of him. The Caterham got neatly out of the way. At the front, Hamilton set a new race fast lap at halfway, leading Webber, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Button, Vettel, Alonso, Perez, Massa, and Rosberg as the top ten. Maldonado, Ricciardo, Hulkenberg, di Resta, Vergne, Bottas, Pic, van der Garde, Bianchi, and Chilton completed the drivers still racing at halfway.

Meanwhile, the stewards gave Grosjean a drive through for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. His incident with Button would be investigated after the race. Grosjean served his penalty immediately, though he angrily asked “why?!” before doing so. Lotus thought it was for the Button incident, though this penalty appeared to be for the pass on Massa. A couple of laps later, Hulkenberg received a drive through for speeding on the pit lane. Button pitted on L38, taking off the soft tires and putting on the mediums. Perez, Ricciardo, and Pic made their second stops on the next lap.

End L40 of 70/Second Pit Stops Continue:
Hamilton led Webber and Raikkonen with thirty laps to go, though the latter two had yet to stop for a second time. Vettel and Alonso in fourth and fifth had done so, with Grosjean in sixth and just a half second behind Alonso. Button, who wanted a rundown on the cars around him, sat seventh fifteen seconds behind the Frenchman, with Massa four seconds behind in eighth. Rosberg and Maldonado then rounded out the top ten. Of that group, only Webber and Raikkonen had yet to stop twice.

After a feint, Lotus pulled Raikkonen in to pit from third on L43. He rejoined in sixth, behind teammate Grosjean. On the radio, McLaren told Button that twenty laps seemed to be the limit for the medium tires. He would have to pit again. Webber made his own second stop on L44, returning to the track with more mediums on his Red Bull and ahead of Grosjean, who was slightly stuck behind Chilton. Webber would have to stop again as well.

Bottas made the third retirement of the race, pulling to the side on the front straight. Race direction disabled DRS while the marshals pushed the smoking Williams along the Armco at the exit of the final turn. Van der Garde pitted for he third time under the yellows. The marshals soon cleared the car and the race returned to a fully green lap.

Grosjean made his third stop and fourth trip into the pits from fifth on L48. Alonso, Massa, and Rosberg all pitted on L49, as Ferrari doubled its drivers with plenty of gap between them. Grosjean seemed ready to make another move at T4, this time on Button, but thought better of it and backed out slightly.

End L50 of 70:
Hamilton had more than fifteen seconds on Vettel with twenty laps to go, pitting at he began L51. Webber was third, but he still had to make another pit stop, while Raikkonen, Alonso, Button, Grosjean, Massa, Rosberg, and Maldonado completed the top ten. Hamilton rejoined alongside Webber, locking up as they went through T1. Hamilton pushed back, giving Webber a shove and pushing him wide out of T3. Webber went well wide and into the runoff area but managed to keep going and rejoin ahead of the backmarker that made their battle even more exciting. Vettel gained the lead on Hamilton’s stop.

Maldonado pitted for the third time on L53. Vettel did so three laps later, giving the lead back to Hamilton. Red Bull put on a fast pit stop performance, getting Vettel back out in fourth just ahead of Ricciardo, who was a lap down. After that stop, Hamilton led Webber, Raikkonen, Vettel, and Alonso as the top five. Webber, and possibly Raikkonen, would have to stop again. Vettel had to pass Raikkonen to come close to Hamilton, who was then nearly twelve seconds ahead. As Mercedes attempted to get Hamilton to change a setting, he said “hey, man, trying to focus here,” and indicated that he was happy with the settings.

10 Laps Remaining:
Webber pitted from second for the regulation tire compound switch with ten laps to go. He rejoined in fourth, between Vettel and Alonso. Hamilton had nearly eleven seconds on Raikkonen with ten laps to go. Vettel completed the podium, but Red Bull had told Webber to push and that he could catch Vettel and Raikkonen ahead before then end. He had twelve seconds to make up on his teammate alone. Alonso was not fully safe in fifth, either, as he had Grosjean just over a half second behind his Ferrari.

Webber soon took a second away from Vettel, but did not always gain time with backmarkers in his way. Vettel had more of a fight ahead of him, looking to move into second around Raikkonen. Less than a second covered the two cars with five laps to go. Vettel continued to look, but did not really elbow Raikkonen into a pass. The Finn remained around eleven seconds behind Hamilton. Life was considerable worse for Rosberg, who never recovered after his horrible start, as his Mercedes engine blew with five to go. He pulled off and hopped out as a small oil fire raged.

Vettel continued to receive cryptic messages, as Red Bull told him “fail 22 fail.” He still seemed safe, as Webber was still more than eight seconds behind his teammate with three to go. Raikkonen left Vettel a bit of room, and the German attempted to take advantage. Vettel pushed, but Raikkonen pushed back and Vettel went wide out of T4 and lost a bit of time. He complained that Raikkonen did not give him enough room.

Hamilton began the final lap more than twelve seconds ahead of Raikkonen. The Finn held off Vettel as the German locked up his way around the track in any effort to pass Raikkonen. He would be unable to do so, while Webber trundled home in fourth and Alonso fifth. Raikkonen pulled into pit out to stop just after the line, presumably having run out of fuel.

{originally published at Formula1Blog}

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