Hungarian Grand Prix 2010: Race Report


Mark Webber won his fourth race of the 2010 season in Hungary today and will lead the driver's championship as F1 heads into its summer break.

Red Bull will take also top the constructor's standings as Sebastian Vettel finished in third, behind the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.

Some innocent looking debris on track brought out a race-changing safety car period which resulted in a couple of pit stop incidents and a drive-through penalty for Vettel which cost him the race victory.

Lewis Hamilton surrendered the lead of the championship when he retired with reliability problems, and teammate Jenson Button could only finish eighth on a disappointing day for McLaren.

Felipe Massa finished the Hungarian Grand Prix fourth ahead of Vitaly Petrov, who secured an impressive fifth place. Nico Hulkenberg and Pedro de la Rosa finished sixth and seventh ahead of Button whilst Kamui Kobayashi and Rubens Barrichello took ninth and tenth places on a good day for both Sauber and Williams.

After qualifying today there was a lot of discussion about the start of this race, the only real chance for the drivers to make up places on this narrow track where overtaking is extremely tricky. There were drivers out of position – Jenson Button in eleventh, and Michael Schumacher in fourteenth, were the most obvious examples. There is also a clear discrepancy in grip between the left and right grid slots here at the Hungaroring.

Adding to the intrigue of the start was also Sebastian Vettel, with the German having difficulties when starting from pole in the last couple of races. However, this time around, the victory wasn't thrown away off the line.

Fernando Alonso, who made a fantastic start off the line, challenged Vettel for the lead into the first corner, but the Red Bull driver retained his starting position. Mark Webber, who starting alongside his Red Bull teammate, was not so lucky, and dropped behind the lead Ferrari.

Vitaly Petrov, who started seventh, got past both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton to be fifth going into the first corner. Hamilton got back past the Russian in Lap 2 though.

The most impressive starter was Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber. The Japanese driver, who started from P23, made it up to P16 off the start line.

Jenson Button was not so lucky, squeezed out of position in the first corner off the race. The world champion dropped four places from his starting position, down to fifteenth.

Jaime Alguersuari was the first retiree after the Ferrari engine in the back of his Toro Rosso went bang with the usual spectacular billow of smoke.

After just four laps, leader Vettel was nearly four seconds ahead of Alonso. Virtually every sector he completed showed up purple on the timing screens – showing he was the fastest of anybody so far. In the early stages, the German's lead was increasing at a rate of a second a lap and, even at this early stage, a Vettel victory looked inevitable.

Jenson Button pitted on Lap 15, and Liuzzi pitted on the same lap – for a new nose. There was debris on the track, almost certainly from the Force India. This brought the safety car out, and on the next lap virtually everybody headed into the pits.

Vettel, Alonso, Massa, Hamilton were straight in for hard tyres at the earliest opportunity, and many other cars followed them in. Hamilton made up a position as he got past Massa. The Brazilian was forced to pit straight after his teammate. Crucially, Mark Webber didn't behind the safety car.

With virtually the whole field diving into the pits there was bound to be drama, and so it proved. Renault released Robert Kubica into the path of Adrian Sutil, and the two collided.

As well as the collision, Nico Rosberg's right-rear wheel came off as he exited his pit box. The Mercedes sat at the end of the pit lane with just three wheels before retiring.

The Bridgestone tyre that had escaped from Rosberg's car headed straight towards the Sauber pit crew, who smartly got out of its way, before attending to one of their cars. The tyre ended up in the Williams garage, remarkably with no serious injuries, though it did hit a member of the Williams pit crew.

The safety car came in at the end of Lap 17, and the order of the top five was Webber (who hadn't stopped), Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton and Massa. Barrichello had not stopped either, and was sitting in sixth. Further down the field Jenson Button had got past Michael Schumacher and was now sitting in eleventh, with the seven-time world champion just behind him. Jarno Trulli was the only other driver in the field who did not step behind the safety car.

After the pit stop melee, Sutil and Rosberg were added to the list of retirees, and Robert Kubica was now a lap down. To make matters worse, Kubica was handed a 10 second stop/go penalty by the stewards for causing the pit lane collision. The Pole retired from the grand prix soon afterwards.

At the front Mark Webber was putting in a series of fastest laps on the super soft tyre as he tried to pull out a big advantage for his pit stop.

Lap 24 marked the end of Lewis Hamilton's race. The championship leader pulled off the track at Turn 3 in a McLaren which sounded very sick.

Vettel received a drive-through penalty on Lap 29 for exceeding ten car lengths behind the safety car. When the punishment was handed out, Vettel was eight seconds behind his teammate, and only 5.5 ahead of Alonso. From what looked like an inevitable victory in the early stages of the race, Vettel was now going to be fighting just to get a podium position.

Vettel came in for his penalty at the end of Lap 31, waving his arms in protest as he cruised down the pit lane. The German remained ahead of fourth-place man Felipe Massa.

As the cars crossed the line at the end of the next lap, Webber had a fastest lap, and was 14.3 seconds ahead of Alonso – still not enough time to make a pit stop and remain ahead of the Ferrari. Vettel was 18.0 seconds behind his teammate, and so Webber needed more stellar laps if he was going to stay ahead of the German when he eventually took his mandatory pit stop.

At Lap 35 – half race distance – Webber was proving Bridgestone's theory that the super soft tyres would be very durable if the temperature in Hungary was high enough. The Aussie, who started this race level on points with his teammate, was pounding in a series of fastest laps. He had a good chance of winning this race, if he could pull out a big enough lead over Alonso before his pit stop.

At the end of Lap 43, with an advantage of 23.7 seconds, Webber finally came into the pits. A prime set of tyres went on his RB6, and he came out of the pit lane comfortably ahead of Fernando Alonso, with his teammate only 0.6 seconds behind the Ferrari.

On his fresh set of tyres Mark Webber continued to put in impressive lap times. His lead quickly increased to over ten seconds over Alonso. The Spaniard was still under pressure from Vettel, but the Red Bull driver could find no way past him.

Rubens Barrichello was the final driver to make a pit stop – on Lap 56! The Brazilian dropped from fifth down to eleventh as he took on a set of super soft tyres. This promoted Michael Schumacher up into tenth place.

With ten laps remaining there were two big battles on track. Vettel was still trying to pass Alonso for second place, and a fast Barrichello was hustling Schumacher for the final point. Five laps from the end Barrichello made a move down the start/finish straight. Schumacher attempted to push Barrichello into the concrete pit wall, but the Brazilian made it past his former teammate. The German's move will be investigated by the stewards after the race, and may receive a grid penalty in Belgium.

Mark Webber finished the race 17.8 seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso – a gap which would have been significantly greater if he hadn't cruised home on the final lap. Sebastien Vettel came home third, but has the fastest lap to his name with a 1:22.362 on the last time round.

It was also a good day for the three new teams. All six of the cars made it to the end of the race, with the two Lotus drivers leading them home.