Formula One, Hungarian Grand Prix (Rd 10; 70 laps)
Lewis Hamilton claimed his first Grand Prix win in Mercedes colours in dominant style on Sunday with a masterful and aggressive performance at the Hungaroring.
The 28-year-old drew away from the chasing pack; until his first stop on lap nine, where he dispatched the not-yet-stopped Jenson Button within three tours, eventually reclaiming the lead on lap 23 when Red Bull’s Mark Webber finally pitted for new rubber. He emerged behind Webber again after the second stops, but Hamilton wasted little time in barging passed the Red Bull man and into clear air.
It was a similar story after the final stop when Hamilton exited the pits just behind Webber, only for the Englishman to punish the hesitant Australian as the pair lapped Nico Hulkenberg. Thereafter Hamilton remained unchallenged, scoring a significant victory for the German marque.
Kimi Raikkonen assumed 2nd place, but it was not made easy by Sebastian Vettel. Following a poor qualifying, the Finn utilised a two-stop strategy to pull himself up the order, helped in no small way by the Lotus’ ability to be easy on the Pirelli’s. It required two long stints on mediums for Raikkonen; however despite the tyre-age, the Lotus man expertly kept a feisty Vettel at bay in the final dozen tours, ensuring the German settled for 3rd. Vettel lost out behind Button in the opening stint, losing 13 seconds to Hamilton in the process.
Webber recovered from 10th at the start to take 4th; however the inability to make the softs last forced an extra late stop from the Australian. Ferrari’s troubled time continues, with Alonso an anonymous 5th, crossing the line just ahead of Romain Grosjean – the latter of whom acquired a drive-through penalty (overtaking Felipe Massa off circuit) and a post-race time penalty (collision with Button), detracting from a stellar drive. Button took 7th for McLaren following a solid drive, while Massa could only manage 8th after damage received on the opening tour. Sergio Perez drove a quiet race to 9th, while Williams finally scored their first point of the season when Pastor Maldonado grabbed 10th.
Vettel now enjoys a 38-point advantage going into the summer break, while Raikkonen and Alonso continue to fall over eachother in the chase, but with four weeks until Spa, Hamilton now lurks in the background.
Blancpain Endurance Series (Rd 4, Total Spa 24 Hour Race)
HTP Mercedes clinched the Spa 24 Hours in a thrilling battle at the weekend. Piloted by Bernd Schneider, Maximilian Buhk and Maximilian Götz, the #84 Mercedes squad pulled toward the front, drawing a lap over the #150 Manthey Porsche in the final few hours.
As Sunday morning unfolded, Mercedes charged to the head of the field, helped somewhat by stopping under safety car conditions, while #150 Manthey took to the pits for a brake pad change while green. The #84 Mercedes was aided further when a drive through penalty robbed the Manthey entry of more time, before a lost cylinder sealed the fate of the Porsche squad.
In what was initially looking like a battle between the #4 Marc VDS BMW (Nicky Catsburg / Henri Moser / Markus Palttala) and the Manthey Porsche for the win, the #84 Mercedes ran a respectable in 4th, not far adrift of the 3rd place #3 Marc VDS (Maxime Martin / Yelmer Buurman / Bas Leinders). Reliability, however, took its toll on the BMW machines, handing the lead – temporarily – to the #150 Manthey Porsche entry.
For a time, it appeared as if the final podium spot would go to the #44 Kessel Ferrari; however the 458 Italia dropped out with water pressure issues, promoting the #2 Belgian Audi WRT to 3rd – albeit several laps in arrears. Piloted by André Lotterer, Christopher Mies and Frank Stippler, the Audi’s also outlasted a rear guard challenge from the Vita4One BMW, which suffered an engine failure late on.
With one round remaining in the Blancpain Endurance Series, Cesar Ramos, Davide Rigon, Daniel Zampieri (#44 Kessel Ferrari) enjoy a two-point lead over the Stippler / Mies / Muhk trio.
The Pro-Am class victory was taken by the #59 AF Corse Ferrari of Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin, Alex Mortimer and Toni Vilander, following a great tussle with the #71 SMP Ferrari (Mika Salo / Kirill Ladygin / Victor Shaitar / Maurizio Mediani).
Neither the #59 nor the #71 featured much in the opening six hours, as the #50 AF Corse and the #25 TDS BMW dominated proceedings; however damage, pace and reliability woes did much to hamper their efforts. Toward the halfway mark, the #70 SMP Ferrari took the lead, before dropping behind the #59 Ferrari with six hours remaining. With time ticking away, Mediani picked up a late penalty in his #71 SMP Ferrari, ensuring class victory for Vilander and crew. The #35 Nissan GT Academy entry (Jann Mardenborough / Lucas Ordonez, Peter Pyzera / Wolfgang Reip) completed the Pro-Am class podium.
Ordonez leads the Pro-Am points standings by four points going into the Nurburgring.
The #20 SOFREV ASP Ferrari driven by Jean-Luc Blanchemain, Jean-Luc Beaubelique, Patrice Goueslard and Fred Bouvy took the Gentlemen’s Trophy. They finished two laps clear of fellow Ferrari drivers Romain Brandela, Leonardo Gorini, Stephane Lemeret, Thierry Prignaud (#52 Sport Garage), with the #111 Kessel Racing Ferrari (Pablo Paladino / Paolo Andreasi / Gaetano Ardagna Perez / Giuseppe Ciro) an additional three laps adrift.
With a single round remaining, the #20 SOFREV ASP quartet have a handsome 51 point lead over Leonardo Gorini.
One driver in the field can claim a touch of luck. Starting 2nd, Alessandro Pier Guidi (#70 SMP Ferrari) attempted a move around the outside of polesitter Stefan Mücke through Eau Rouge, resulting in a spinning Ferrari. Somehow, Guidi’s out of control vehicle was missed by all that followed through.
The race was twice interrupted by the safety car in the opening 90 minutes when, first, a left rear suspension failure pitched Alex Buncombe (#32 Nissan GT Academy) hard into the barrier at Eau Rouge, followed later by Jos Menten who crashed exiting the same spot in the #24 Blancpain Lamborghini. Thereafter followed a stunning spectacle, whereby the race ran green for just over 12-and-a-half hours – an impressive stint run at staggering speeds.