F1: Lewis Hamilton pulls off win for Mercedes

Lewis Hamilton enjoys his champagne moment after an unexpected win in Budapest. Picture: Getty
Lewis Hamilton enjoys his champagne moment after an unexpected win in Budapest. Picture: Getty
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Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes proved yesterday afternoon that miracles do happen.

At the tenth time of asking this season, and after the dejection of seeing team-mate Nico Rosberg win in Monaco and at Silverstone, Hamilton finally has his maiden victory with his new team.

The 28-year-old Briton finished ahead of Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen and triple world champion Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull.

There must be something in the air around Budapest because, of his 22 career wins overall, Hamilton has triumphed on four occasions in the Hungarian Grand Prix in his seven years in Formula 1.

This was a victory, however, that, by his own admission, on Saturday in the wake of claiming a third successive pole in F1 for the first time, he never for a second believed would happen.

Ahead of qualifying, motorsport director Toto Wolff insisted it would be “a miracle” if either Hamilton or Rosberg made it seven poles in the last eight races for the team.

When Hamilton did so, he was as shocked as everyone inside Mercedes, but, in the aftermath, he insisted to follow up with a victory would be another miraculous achievement.

In the heat at the Hungaroring, with the mercury hitting 35 degrees centigrade, whilst the track was again 50 as was the case yesterday during qualifying, Mercedes’ tyres should have disintegrated.

Mercedes certainly came into the race expecting the worst, especially after being banned for the young driver test where the other ten teams were allowed to test Pirelli’s new tyres.

The high-speed blow-outs that occurred during the British Grand Prix, during which lives were endangered, resulted in Pirelli opting for a plan that has resulted in last year’s construction being married with this year’s compounds.

On the back foot, Mercedes spent the three practice sessions trying to gain as much data as possible, but, even so, what unfolded was never supposed to be on the cards.

Naturally, Hamilton is hoping the tide has turned as he said: “This is probably one of the most important grand prix wins of my career, having moved to a new team.

“To win is an incredible feeling. We had no idea it would go that well, so I’m very surprised by the victory.

“After missing the young driver test, we really did not think we would do so well, but my team have done an incredible job.

“We studied the data a lot and went into the race hoping the tyres would last.

“When I was driving, I was thinking the tyres weren’t so bad, but I don’t understand why they worked so well for us.

“After the first stop, when I was ahead of Sebastian [Vettel], I thought I had a good chance.

“Now that I’ve won I have to hope there is plenty more to come. If we can make the tyres last here, we can do it anywhere. I am hoping this is a turning point for us.”

After congratulations were expressed over the radio between Hamilton and team principal Ross Brawn, Mercedes’ non-executive chairman Niki Lauda summed up the drive perfectly.

Lauda said: “He won the race because he drove sensationally, the best I’ve ever seen him drive in my life.

“We were not as quick as the Red Bull, but Lewis made it all up with the way he passed people. He was outstanding.”

Hamilton, however, has tempered suggestions of a championship charge over the second half of the campaign once the summer break is out of the way.

Although he has closed the gap to Vettel to 48 points, he added: “When you have a win like this you get excited and think anything is possible.

“It’s still too early to say we can challenge. I know the guys are working hard to close the gap. I hope this is the first step.”

Behind the top three, Mark Webber was fourth in his Red Bull, with Fernando Alonso fifth in his Ferrari and now 39 points adrift of Vettel, as well as a point behind Raikkonen.

Ferrari were later fined €15,000 (£12,940) for Alonso using his DRS on three occasions during the race when not less than one second behind another driver in the DRS zone.

Lotus’ Romain Grosjean was sixth, that after incurring a drive-through penalty for gaining an advantage in passing Felipe Massa in his Ferrari by running off the circuit.

Grosjean also had 20 seconds added to his time post race for causing a collision with McLaren’s Jenson Button, who was seventh, yet that made no difference to his finishing position.

Behind Button was Massa, the second McLaren of Sergio Perez, with Pastor Maldonado tenth, giving Williams their first point of the season.

Force India’s Paul Di Resta suffered a miserable weekend, with the Scot retiring with a hydraulics problem, as did team-mate Adrian Sutil, whilst Marussia’s Max Chilton was 17th.