Jenson Button was brilliant today during a chaotic and often rainy Hungarian Grand Prix. The British driver celebrated his 200th F1 start with a superb victory, the 11th of his career, which puts him on level with former Honda team mate Rubens Barrichello, and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.
Button held onto his third place grid position at the start, later moving up to second after going around Sebastian Vettel who was struggling for pace. He then began reeling in team mate Hamilton who had pressed Vettel early on and taken a commanding lead. Good communication between he and his crew saw him later come in for the softs, with the intention of them lasting the race distance. A dice with Hamilton and a further smattering of light rain showers that seemed to catch out most of the field only proved temporary hold ups, as Button kept his head and claimed a historic victory.
Much is made of an F1 driver’s wet weather ability, as sort of a litmus test to differentiate the good from the great. In the pouring rain, this race would have been Hamilton’s to lose, in the dry it would have been Vettel’s or Alonso’s, but in mixed conditions Button is the new standard, some calling him the “moistmaster”.
Vettel and Alonso rounded out the podium followed home by a hard charging Hamilton who secured 4th, despite an ill fated stint on intermediates mid race and a drive thru penalty. Webber and Massa rounded out the rest of the top guys, giving us a McLaren, RedBull, Ferrari, McLaren, RedBull, Ferrari top six. Paul di Resta drove a superb race taking “best of the rest” honors away from its usual title holder of Nico Rosberg. Sebastian Buemi drove a fantastic race climbing from 23rd to 8th, nearly taking 7th off of di Resta at the line.
The most unusual moment of the race was a glimpse at the softer side of Michael Schumacher. Being pressed hard by former team mate Massa, Schumacher’s gearbox let go, in order to avoid taking out the Ferrari, Schumacher deliberately put his Mercedes W-02 into a spin, exiting the race in dramatic fashion. Despite the help from his former mentor, Massa once again had a difficult time at the Hungaroring. Dominating the 08 race saw his engine let go 3 laps from victory and in 2009, the fallen spring from Barrichello’s Brawn hit Massa head on, nearly taking his life and forcing him to sit out the remainder of the season. Two years on from the tragic event and Sid Watkins believes Massa should only now be fully recovered, time will tell if it shows later in the season, but one can only imagine the difficulty of being team mate to Fernando Alonso whilst not being 100 percent.
Formula One now begins its mandatory month long summer holiday until competition returns August 28th at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Sadly, for the first time in a long time it will be without former king of Spa Kimi Räikkönen who has four wins, including three in a row from 2004 to 2007 (there was no 06 race) at the famed low downforce circuit.
The season is now set to heat up dramatically with McLaren having 4 wins to RedBull’s 6 and Ferrari’s 1. The low downforce circuits of Spa and Monza have been difficult for RedBull of late and their competitors will likely relish in that fact in a month’s time.