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Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Faultless Hamilton secures golden win in Hungary - Overtaking at Hungary was low, but drivers still performed their very best


Lewis keeps himself entertained in Hungary
Lewis keeps himself entertained in HungaryCredit: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

I have to admit that the Hungarian Grand Prix was certainly no thriller but it could have big implications for the championship and it did produce an enthralling battle for the lead throughout the race between Lewis Hamilton and both Lotus drivers. It was a day when any mistake over the entire of the weekend was punished heavily, as Hungary lived up to its reputation as a tight twisty track with no opportunities to overtake. This meant that maximum effort was needed in qualifying to avoid a disappointing points tally at the end of the race.

The race itself saw two underperforming teams come good on evident race pace. McLaren and Lotus have both missed big opportunities to cash in on their pace but this weekend it was them who were near faultless as their rivals struggled with strategic errors and a clear speed disadvantage to McLaren and Lotus.

Hamilton delivers under pressure

I have really struggled with this decision as each of the three men have clear merit and could easily be my driver of the day. However, as it is the Olympics and Bernie Ecclestone likes to place emphasis on the win, I chose Lewis Hamilton. He was simply majestic throughout the weekend and would have had some big questions to answer had he not won the race. He topped both Friday sessions and each of the segments of qualifying. His only pre-race blot in his copybook was finishing second to Mark Webber in Saturday practice.

In the race, he handled everything that Lotus could throw at him and provided the type of win that we became accustomed to back in 2007 and 2008, rather than his more recent wins when he has battled a speed deficit and outperformed the car to score an unlikely victory. Ironically, he was chased home narrowly by Kimi Räikkönen, performing a complete replica of his 2007 win, when Räikkönen was driving for Ferrari and chasing Lewis throughout the race to no avail.

Hamilton may have been quick and dominant but he was beatable

It was Hamilton’s third victory around the Hungaroring and I would put good money on this being Lewis' favourite track, although Montreal puts up a strong fight. Hamilton was off like a rocket, opening up a four second lead within five laps. But he was quickly pegged back by the Lotus of Romain Grosjean who closed at the end of the first stint and would have beaten Lewis out of the pits had he not been delayed as both men suffered minor dramas in their first stop. The gap remained far more stagnant in the second stint and Hamilton was very glad that Grosjean had a couple of poor laps in the middle of the stint.

If there was one weakness in Lewis Hamilton all weekend, it was his tyre management which kept both Lotuses in the battle for the lead, particularly at the end of the stints as they could make their rubber last longer. Hamilton may have been quick and dominant but he was beatable and had Grosjean had a good first stop or if Lotus had been braver with their strategy to try and use the undercut, Lewis would have found it tough to recover.

Räikkönen bites back

I have been one of Kimi’s bigger critics over the course of the year as teammate Grosjean has appeared to have his number on speed while Räikkönen has used his experience to keep the points flowing. Hungary was surely his strongest drive since his comeback and had it have been a more overtaking friendly track he would probably have won Lotus’ first race in its current guise.

Kimi finds the fast way around the Hungaroring
Kimi finds the fast way around the HungaroringCredit: Lorenzo Bellanca/LAT

Two things stopped Räikkönen winning in Hungary. One was a poor lap in final qualifying (an error which also cost him driver of the day) and the other was his KERS which was intermittent at best. This cost him most at the start as he began slightly out of position in fifth and was a sitting duck on the run down to turn one without the extra 80 horsepower. This left him in a queue of cars in the first stint and left him unable to maximise the Lotus’ full potential as Hamilton and Grosjean in particular were allowed to sprint away whilst Räikkönen was limited to the speed of Fernando Alonso, which, for once, was a long way off the pace of McLaren and Lotus.

Räikkönen’s fightback though was great and it was clear that the fire is really back when he was ultra-aggressive on his own teammate down into turn one coming out of the pits - a moment where I was sure at least one front wing would be left behind. The main part of the comeback was done in an extended second stint where he set mesmerising laps, recording fastest lap after fastest lap on old tyres whilst all his rivals had fresher rubber. The performance as a whole has convinced me that Kimi is back. While Lotus’ conservative approach may mean that the title is out of reach (although he is right in the chasing pack), he is sure to have a massive bearing on who the Championship goes to.

Grosjean confirms Lotus pace

They may have been unable to secure their maiden win but Hungary was the first time that Lotus showed race-winning pace throughout a GP. If the race had been a time trial event, they’d have had a one-two, but neither driver was able to pass eventual winner Hamilton. Grosjean started strongly and was left to rue a slight inconsistency in his lap time due to driver error. He couldn’t match Räikkönen’s sensational speed before Kimi’s second stop.

Grosjean was wise as he made it difficult for Kimi to get through but avoided an incident that would have left Éric Boullier seething. For a man who has had too many incidents in the past, he was sensible and reaped the rewards with a third podium. I’m sure he is disappointed that he could not beat his teammate on track having built such a big gap to Räikkönen early in the race. It was a composed performance that eases the pressure after two poor results because of first lap incidents.

Speedy Senna eases pressure from his shoulders

I like Bruno Senna, even if I’m still not fully convinced on his pace. He just gets the job done and is by far the more consistent Williams driver. He keeps his nose clean and I can’t think of a race where he has caused an incident whilst both Kobayashi and Michael Schumacher have run into the back of him.

Senna drove his own race on Sunday
Senna drove his own race on SundayCredit: Glenn Dunbar

Hungary provided his best result since Malaysia as he was finally able to score good points. He may not be able to unlock the full potential of a car but he provides a good alternative to teammate Pastor Maldonado who has more speed but wastes it with pointless incidents, as well as being a little too arrogant within the media. Senna had clear pace over the weekend and put it to good use as he made it into Q3 for the first time all year. On Sunday, he drove his own race and benefitted as the big boys screwed up by having to do three stops, as he held up Jenson Button for seven laps and finished ahead of Championship contender Mark Webber.

Meanwhile, it's not too surprising to see that Sauber struggled in qualifying. It's the flip side of the coin when you have great tyre conservation; it means it's harder to get heat into the tyre over one lap. It is slightly surprising that it happened on a hot track but both Kobayashi and Pérez clearly struggled in qualifying leaving them an impossible task on Sunday as they couldn't work their way through the field on the twisty track. Meanwhile Pastor Maldonado was at it again. While I feel his penalty was a tad harsh he really should take a leaf out of Bruno Senna's book and have a quiet weekend where he makes no mistakes, even if he sacrifices some speed. He is still yet to score since his Spanish win and has only got four points elsewhere; leaving him only five points ahead of Senna as Williams bookend a tight midfield group.

Looking ahead...

Hungary provided the perfect weekend full of intrigue to send us off on our F1 summer holiday. Next we head to the legendary Spa where I would expect a status quo. As with Hungary, Spa has many fast corners, which the McLaren loves. Lotus aren't too shabby in them too and if they have double DRS then they will be a formidable force.

If the DRS is working I'm sure they will be on pole and with the ability to dictate the race for the first time, they will be likely to stand at the top of the podium. It may end up being a case of which driver throughout the weekend. But a lot can change in four weeks.