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By Alan Davies, Formula One correspondent
Sunday, July 29, 2012
FORMULA 1 star Lewis Hamilton said he’ll “savour” his victory in the 2012 Hungarian Grand Prix after a magnificent drive at the Hungaroring circuit.
Top six in Budapest
1 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
3 Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
4 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
5 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
6 Jenson Button (McLaren)
The 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes racer from Hertfordshire led from start to finish for his second F1 victory of the season after also winning in Canada.
He held off the challenge of Romain Grosjean in the first half of the race and then Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen in the closing laps, to take the chequered flag at the Hungaroring for a third time – equalling the record of F1 legend Ayrton Senna.
The magnitude of his performance near Budapest wasn’t lost on Hamilton in the McLaren garage afterwards, especially coming on the day Team GB claimed its first medal of the London 2012 Olympics, a silver for Lizzie Armitstead in the women’s cycling road race.
Hamilton said: “To be able to win a Grand Prix on the weekend that the Olympic Games started in the UK too, well, I feel like we’ve done our part to contribute to what I hope will be many more British successes over the Olympic Games period.”
1 Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 164pts
2 Mark Webber (Red Bull) 124
3 Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 122
4 Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 117
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) 116
6 Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 77
7 Jenson Button (McLaren) 76
8 Romain Grosjean (Lotus) 76
After collecting his trophy on the podium, watched by proud father Anthony and stepmother Linda, Hamilton said: “Well, what can I say?! I’m over the moon! The team did a fantastic job! Absolutely brilliant!
“It was a really enjoyable race – but it wasn’t at all easy. In fact, I reckon that it was one of the toughest races I’ve ever driven – but, guess what, I’ll savour it all the more for that.
“I was under a lot of pressure throughout all 69 laps. First, Romain [Grosjean] and then Kimi [Raikkonen] were right behind me, all the way through, and I had to look after my tyres without letting my pace drop, which was pretty tricky at times.”
He added: “It isn’t a static situation when a race goes like that. The feel of the car is changing all the time.
1 Red Bull 246pts
2 McLaren 193
3 Lotus 192
4 Ferrari 189
5 Mercedes GP 106
“You get different messages from the tyres with every lap. But they lasted – I managed to make them last.
“It was a case of managing the gap behind me, over the whole lap, every lap. In particular, I had to make sure that, every lap, I always had a big enough gap at the last corner, so that I wouldn’t be overtaken in the DRS zone on the pit straight. And I managed to do that every time.”
A delighted McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “Lewis drove with tremendous composure all afternoon, and the result was a meticulously judged victory, wrought under intense pressure throughout.
“He made a superb start from pole position, then controlled the race with masterful authority, all the while balancing the necessity to execute rapid laps against the equally pressing requirement to conserve his tyres.”
Hamilton’s racing driver younger sibling Nicolas tweeted: “Proud of my big bro @LewisHamilton what an awesome win, #lewisathisbest well done man, hope I can have a good one at Snetterton in 2 weeks”
As the F1 season heads into the two-week summer break, Lewis Hamilton acknowledged the efforts of the entire McLaren team to turn the season around over the past two races, first in Germany last week and again in Hungary today (Sunday).
“As I say, the team did an absolutely incredible job – and the support we’ve had here in Budapest, not only from the visiting British fans but also from the local Hungarian fans, has been phenomenal,” said the Stevenage-born 2008 F1 world champion.
“Looking at the season as a whole, it’s clear that after the mid-season break we’ll have a lot of work to do.
“But, for now, let’s celebrate – all of us, family, friends and fans – and put on our Vodafone rocket-red tops, and enjoy the moment. Nobody celebrates like we do.”
After getting a police escort back to the airport in Hungary, Hamiton flew home.
He later tweeted: “Home sweet home! So happy to be back, now gonna go enjoy a dinner with my family. Have a great night. Bless”
Hamilton’s victory lifted him above Raikkonen into fourth place in the world drivers’ championship – and back into the title race.
The F1 circus heads to Belgium at the end of August/early September for the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.