Budapest, Hungary – Lewis Hamilton claimed his first win as a Mercedes driver with a dominating performance in Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.
Amid hot air and track temperatures at the Hungaroring circuit, Hamilton started on pole and gave up the lead only when he pitted three times during this 70-lap race. The 2008 Formula One world champion crossed the finish line 10.9 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, to win the Hungarian GP for the fourth time, which tied him with Michael Schumacher for most victories in this event.
Hamilton gave Mercedes a victory after the team was banned from a Pirelli tire test that took place earlier this month at Silverstone Circuit. FIA's International Tribunal suspended Mercedes from the Silverstone test after the team conducted an unapproved tire test in May at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya. Mercedes came to Hungary with little knowledge of Pirelli's revised tire for this race.
"What a great weekend," said Hamilton, who scored his 22nd career F1 win. "We really didn't expect this when we came here this weekend, and I said last night that I would need a miracle to win today. Well, just maybe they do happen."
Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull ran close behind Hamilton in second in the early going and took over the top spot when Hamilton was the first driver to pit on lap 10. After each cycle of pit stops had concluded, Hamilton was at the front again and would build on his lead, as he experienced little tire degradation.
"The team called the strategy and the pit stops just right, and then it was just about managing the gap," he noted. "I think we had the pace on everyone today. The team has just done an exceptional job. We have worked so hard to understand these tires, and we got the balance spot on today. I am very hopeful this could be a real turning point for us, as we coped with these high track temperatures."
Hamilton also started on pole and won the Hungarian GP in his final season with McLaren last year.
Vettel and Raikkonen fought hard for the second position in the closing laps, but Raikkonen edged Vettel at the finish by 1.5 seconds.
"I would have loved the race to have been a bit longer, as it was fun with Kimi at the end," Vettel said. "It's hard to pass on this track. I got close, but I wasn't in the prime overtaking spot at that point. I was trying to set something up for the next corners, but it didn't work.
Vettel, the three-time defending F1 champion and winner of the July 7 German Grand Prix, widened his points lead to 38 over Raikkonen, who moved up to second in the standings.
Vettel's teammate, Mark Webber, finished fourth, while Fernando Alonso from Ferrari took the fifth spot. Alonso now trails Vettel by 39 points. Hamilton's victory moved him to within 48 points of the leader.
Romain Grosjean from Lotus crossed the line in sixth, but race stewards later handed Grosjean a 20-second penalty after they determined he collided with McLaren's Jenson Button while trying to overtake him in the chicane on lap 25. Grosjean had finished 21.6 seconds ahead of Button. He was able to retain his sixth-place result.
Button was seventh, followed by Felipe Massa from Ferrari and Button's teammate, Sergio Perez. Williams' Pastor Maldonado completed the top-10.
Hamilton's teammate, Nico Rosberg, had a frustrating race. Rosberg started fourth but ran wide on the opening lap. He later made contact with Massa, forcing him off the track again. Rosberg's day came to an end six laps short of the finish when he suffered engine failure, placing 19th.
F1 now takes a three-week "summer vacation" before it resumes its season schedule on Aug. 25 with the Belgian Grand Prix.