BUDAPEST (Hungary): Lewis Hamilton ended weeks of expectation and frustration on Sunday when he finally won his first race for Mercedes by claiming a dominant text-book triumph in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
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The 28-year-old Briton led from pole position to the chequered flag, apart from three short spells for pit-stops, as he secured his fourth victory at the Hungaroring in sweltering conditions.
The 2008 champion came home 11 seconds clear of Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus and third-placed defending triple world champion Sebastien Vettel of Red Bull, who was unable to force his way into second place in the closing laps.
It was Hamilton’s 22nd win of his career and a success that restored him among the challengers for this year’s drivers’ championship.
He is now fourth in the 2013 title race with 124 points behind leader Vettel on 172 and Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso on 134 and 133 respectively.
“It’s an incredible feeling and I’d like to thank all the fans here,” said Hamilton.
“My team did an incredible job, we studied a lot last night and were hoping the tyres would last.
“We had no idea it would go that well, but I was hungry for it today. I was going all out. Usually, I get stuck in traffic, but today I was going for every move I could. I wasn’t having any of that…” “This has been one of the best and most important wins of my career,” he added.
“To change teams and to win here for Mercedes Benz. This is a real privilege for me and I hope there are many more to come.”
Raikkonen said: “I keep making my life difficult on Saturdays so we pay the price. I had a good car, we did two stops, it was tight with Seb at the end, but we gained some good points in the championship.”
Vettel, who appeared upset by a brush with the Finn during their duel, said: “It was not the best race. The start was difficult and when Lewis pulled in we thought we could do it on the softs.
“But I damaged my front wing which did not help. I tried to hang on in there and tried to fight back with Kimi. I could not get him on the straight…. I told Kimi I was not happy, but he was laughing. That’s racing.”
“That was a brilliant drive from Lewis, he didn’t put a foot wrong,” said Mercedes team chief Ross Brawn.
“He has had an exceptional weekend from Saturday afternoon all the way through to today. We really didn’t know how the tyres would play out, but this could be a good step for the rest of the year for us today.”
It was the Mercedes team’s third win of the season, German Nico Rosberg having won the Monaco and British races.
Australian Mark Webber finished fourth in the second Red Bull ahead of two-time champion Alonso and sixth-placed Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus, who endured a familiar race of incidents and penalties.
Jenson Button came home seventh for McLaren ahead of Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari and Sergio Perez in the second McLaren.
Pastor Maldonado delivered the Williams’ team’s first point of the season by finishing 10th.
Hamilton’s pole was his third in successive races that had seen him unable to exploit the advantage – a spectacular tyre failure at Silverstone wrecking his hopes while leading the British Grand Prix.
But this time, in Mercedes’ 350th race as engine suppliers in Formula One, he enjoyed some of the luck that had been missing elsewhere to mark his 120th Grand Prix with a well-taken win.