Great Win As Jenson Button Showed His Best At Budapest

By Hannah Taylor, F1 Correspondent

Story Highlights

  • Button wins his 200th Grands Prix
  • Tyre choice ruined Hamilton’s race
  • Vettel still leading championship

McLaren’s Jenson Button marked his 200th race in F1, as he stole the show and took the victory at the 26th race around the Hungaroring. The 2009 World Champion achieved his 36th podium finish, ahead of Red Bull driver and polesitter Sebastian Vettel. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso followed closely behind, to take the final step on the podium.

Great win for Button at the Hungaroring

Great win for Button at the Hungaroring

Photo by: Motorsport.com

Button described his emotions about winning the race, how it went and marking his special achievement in such a way.

“I want to say a big, big thank you to the team today. The car worked a treat in all conditions, and we made all the right strategy calls. We deserved this win and it felt great to stand alongside my race engineer Dave (Robson) on the occasion of his first appearance on the podium. The race was a brilliantly eventful one… This was the perfect way to celebrate my 200th Grand Prix, and the team can enter the summer a break with a spring in its step”, commented a very satisfied Button.

Before the lights went out to start the race, the heavens opened and rain was pouring onto the track. Luckily, the wet weather conditions did stop, once the on track action did get going. As a result of this, the track drying out over the early laps, deteriorated the grip the tyres had on the circuit. In light of the tricky situation at the beginning of the Grand Prix, the entire field had their cars set up with the intermediate tyre compound.

Although the rain had stopped falling, the initial lap and track conditions were not easy for any of the drivers. Despite this Vettel maintained pole position as they set off after the lights turned to green, and Button’s team mate, Lewis Hamilton, was just about holding onto second place.

Meanwhile, the Ferrari duo of Alonso and his Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa fell off the pace of the top front-runners. Both drivers rapidly lost their original starting grid slots, and Alonso was ahead in sixth place from Massa. While the pair lost out it was the Mercedes’ boys gain. Nico Rosberg jumped into fourth place, which left Michael Schumacher trailing in fifth position. However, Rosberg did have a minor blip on the first lap, as he ran wide and took Button’s third place temporarily. The German quickly gave Button the place back, as he may have been deemed to be at an advantage if he had not done so.

The early happenings on the track also included the first in-team battle. Button was working hard to get on Hamilton’s tail, and at one point his efforts prevailed. Both drivers were lining up side by side, but sadly, Button could not turn the scrap into gaining second place from the 2008 World Champion. With the pressure off Hamilton, once his team mate dropped back from him a little, he was slipping on the track but managed to tackle Vettel for first place. Hamilton successfully made the most of his opportunity, once he had the use of DRS on lap three. Vettel then dropped down to second place and lost the lead into Turn one.

It seemed that Hamilton found his feet as the leader a few laps on, as the Englishman set the fastest time on lap six. He topped the timesheets with a lap of 1:43.736secs. This quick time was shortly followed up at an even faster pace, as Hamilton crossed the line on lap eight with a 1:41.287secs.

Side by side: Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel

Side by side: Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel

Photo by Motorsport.com

As Hamilton seemed to be increasing his lead from Vettel, elsewhere Massa spent time off the track rather than progressing on it. He came off the circuit at the exit of Turn 2, and tried to fight against the car running wide. His efforts to prevent this from happening failed, as he slipped off the track and ended up in close company with the tyre wall. However, Massa seemed to suffer little damage to his car, except for a chunk of his rear wing missing. Nevertheless, he was able to get back racing again. The location of Massa’s mishap already seemed a notorious place for catching out other front-runners early on in the race. Vettel and Alonso had been victims at Turn 2, where they temporarily slipped of the circuit.

Despite getting off to a cracking start as the race got underway, the time came for the famous tyre wear to take effect on Rosberg and Schumacher’s cars. It was a similar situation for current Constructor’s title leaders, Red Bull. It was reported that the team were uncertain, as to which tyres they would put on Vettel and Mark Webber’s cars. After some deliberation Webber was the first of the two to make his stop, he emerged from the pits with the super soft compound on. Unfortunately, the slicks did not settle on his car straight away. Initially, the Australian appeared to struggle for grip, but after a while did get back on track with the pace.

Following Webber’s decision to pit on lap 11, some of the other drivers responded to this. As well as Lotus Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, Massa and Williams driver Rubens Barrichello all met in the pits for a tyre change. Consequently, the trio fell down the field in terms of track position. Button was one of the front-runners though, who was able to rejoin a little closer to the top. The Briton was maintaining sixth place after changing to super soft tyres on lap 12. During the first period of pit stops, the line up did have a bit of shake up. Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi was in seventh place for a while, followed by Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi, and Webber in ninth place. Buemi’s Spanish team mate Jaime Alguersuari was just behind Webber in 10th position, and ahead of Force India’s Paul Di Resta and Team Lotus driver, Heikki Kovalainen.

Hamilton was among those to pit next, and was at an advantage over his Championship rivals. He was lucky enough to have a brand new set of super soft tyres available to him. Vettel and Alonso were next to blink for a tyre change, and were accompanied by Rosberg and Kobayashi as well. This meant that with the normal front-runners in the pits, or others coming back from midfield positions, Schumacher was actually in the lead at this stage. The seven times World Champion and former winner in Hungary, was still on the intermediate tyre, and yet to make a stop. When the German did eventually give in and make a visit to the pits, Hamilton was able to resume his lead at the front. However, his team mate Button was putting him under pressure, as he set the fastest lap with a 1:35.881secs on lap 14. In doing such a solid lap time, Button also took the opportunity to take second place from Vettel, who quickly slid down to third place. It appeared that the McLaren team’s decision to pit Button early paid off with this result. Consequently, it was not long until Massa responded to the times being set up front, even though he was down in ninth place on lap 15. He impressed with a solid lap time of 1:35.361secs, and Hamilton did the same minutes later with a 1:31.634secs. The competition between pace setting seemed to heat up from then on, as Alonso joined the trend on lap 18 and recorded a time of 1:28.622secs, which Hamilton soon improved on with a 1:28.264secs. Button then muscled in on the game, and went one to better their times with a 1:28.154secs.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes, Jenson Button, McLaren Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes, Jenson Button, McLaren Mercedes

Photo by:Motorsport.com

While it was a game of cat and mouse with the lap times at the front, Webber was having a battle of his own as he fought to stay on the track. He temporarily went via the scenic route as he ran wide on lap 15. Webber managed to get himself out of the situation with ease, but Williams driver Pastor Maldonado was not quite so fortunate. The Venezuelan rookie to the sport this season, was under investigation by the stewards for speeding in the pit lane, on the same lap that Webber went off course. He was then issued with a drive through penalty, and once served he fell down the field losing numerous places. Just a short while later and the stewards had more work on their hands, as Kovalainen became of interest to them. The Finnish driver was under investigation for an unsafe release during his pit stop. It was reported soon after that, no further action would be taken on the matter. To add to the team’s troubles they were about to get worse, when Kovalainen’s Italian team mate, Jarno Trulli was forced to retire from the race on lap 20. It was reported a little while later, that his exit from the race was due to a suspected oil leak.

With some drivers suffering due to problems off the track and technical or pit stop related, the rest of the field continued to battle against each other for position. Schumacher and Massa’s scrap particularly came to the forefront of the action for a few laps. Schumacher had the upper hand as he was the one ahead, and Massa was keen to pass the former Ferrari driver. Schumacher’s strong track record at this race, was being demonstrated very well, as he fought to keep eighth place and not yield to Massa. While this was going on it seemed that Rosberg was also doing well like his team mate. The German was driving a strong race and maintaining sixth place from di Resta on lap 21. Towards the front of the pack it was a similar story, but on this occasion Webber and Vettel were competing against each other, in contrast to Rosberg and Schumacher, who were leading themselves against other drivers. Although Webber was sitting in fourth place on lap 22, he was 6.7 seconds faster than Vettel who was leading. Button did surprise the pair almost instantly though, as he set the fastest lap of the race then, with a blistering time of 1:22.057secs.

Further down the field around this stage of the race, and the midfield drivers were having their own battle for position. The scrap involved Maldonado, who was trailing the others in 17th place. Kovalainen was racing well in 15th position and Force India’s Adrian Sutil was in the middle of the trio in 16th place.

As well as observing the scraps for position towards the end of the field that were getting heated, it was a similar situation for Lotus Renault’s Nick Heidfeld in more ways than one. It was reported in the pits that during his pit stop on lap 25, there was a problem with fitting one of the rear tyres. As a result of the delay and the car being stationary, it seemed that the car had overheated and actually caught fire as he left the pit box. The German pulled to the side of the track just beyond the pit exit, and leapt out of his car as the fire worsened. The engine then blew up which led to an explosion, and this occurred when a marshal was putting out the blaze. Luckily all involved seemed to come out of it unscathed except for the car.

A fiery end of the race for Nick Heidfeld

A fiery end of the race for Nick Heidfeld

Photo by: Motorsport.com

The incident did not hamper the rest of the field completely, as a safety car was not required. The majority of the field did respond though and decided to pit just one lap later. Button and Vettel who were leading the pack, remained out on track for a bit longer while the others made their stops for a tyre change. When the top two did make their essential visit to the pits, Vettel rejoined the race and took the lead, which left Button in third place on lap 28.

Meanwhile, Schumacher sadly did not get to race on like Vettel and Button. Schumacher had to abandon his car off the circuit after spinning, and nearly collecting Massa in the process. In order to avoid possible contact with Massa, he went off the track but lost gear at the same time. This spelt the end of his race, and before retiring from it he had struggled with his tyres as well.

With another retiree from the Grand Prix, the rest of the drivers continued to race on. Trouble was near by for Sauber drive, Sergio Perez though on lap 31. The Mexican rookie to F1 this season, suddenly became of interest to the stewards. He was reported to be under investigation for overtaking Maldonado under a yellow flag, as he already had started his overtaking manoeuvre before he had passed the green flag. On the following lap he was issued with a drive through penalty, and had to serve this within three laps of it being given.

The competitive racing was in full swing at the front of the field, as Webber and Alonso were seen scrapping for position. Webber was leading in fourth place, and Alonso was attempting to tackle him from behind in fifth place on lap 34. Alonso’s team mate, Massa was having his own bit of fun as well. He managed to successfully snatch sixth place from Kobayashi around that time. As a consequence of making a pit stop shortly after, Kobayashi dropped from seventh to 13th place, whereas Alonso and Webber did not lose out too badly track position wise. Alonso emerged from the pits in fifth place just behind Webber. Alonso was the first to make another stop, and Webber followed suit shortly after. However, they had both made a previous stop at the same time working in sync with each other.

While Webber was in the pits on the next occasion the stop did not go quite so smoothly. There was a slight delay in putting on the right front tyre, but he still managed to get back on track in a good place. Likewise, Hamilton also had his fair share of pit stop issues as Webber had experienced. During his stop it was a slightly different problem, as he seemed to have trouble getting into gear. He eventually overcame the issue and still rejoined the race from first to third place. The pit stop dramas seemed to pass on to other front-runners as well. Massa’s rear tyre was slow to go on during his stop, which resulted in a short delay. On the other hand, Vettel and Button appeared to have problem free pit stops.

On lap 47 the rain reared its ugly head again, which was of benefit to some drivers and not others. Bu

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