Maiden Button win in chaotic Hungarian GP

Briton Jenson Button won his first Formula One race on Sunday when he came home ahead of Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa at the end of a wild, dramatic and rain-swept Hungarian Grand Prix

Maiden Button win in chaotic Hungarian GP

The 26-year-old Honda driver worked his way through the field after starting from 14th place on the grid and took full advantage of the misfortunes of several other leading drivers.

Both championship contenders Fernando Alonso of Renault and seven-time champion German Michael Schumacher of Ferrari failed to score points.

Pole-sitting Finn Kimi Raikkonen, in his McLaren Mercedes-Benz, led for a long period from the start but failed to score after crashing. Alonso crashed out, too, but only after a wheel nut flew off his car and Schumacher abandoned the race with four laps remaining when he was third due to mechanical problems.

It was Briton Button's maiden win at the 113th attempt and proof, at last, that he and Honda have the potential to deliver the results they have been promising for months, if not years.

Button, 26, came home 30.8 seconds ahead of de la Rosa, with German Nick Heidfeld third for the BMW Sauber team.

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was fourth in the second Honda and 35-year-old Briton David Coulthard fifth for Red Bull Ferrari. Apart from Schumacher, 37, the Scot is the oldest driver in the sport. German Ralf Schumacher was sixth for Toyota.

Poland's Robert Kubica finished seventh on his Formula One debut in the second BMW Sauber to take two points, a remarkable performance for someone in their first outing. Brazilian Felipe Massa scored a solitary point for Ferrari by finishing eighth.

The race was dominated by changing weather and unexpected incidents that saw pole-sitter Finn Kimi Raikkonen lead and then crash out when he drove into Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso car and subsequent leader 25-year-old Spaniard Alonso lose control and hit the barriers in his Renault while ahead 18 laps to go.

He crashed after switching from intermediate to dry tyres. A wheel nut worked lose and flew off. This gifted the race to Button.

The race began in wet conditions with puddles on several parts of the circuit. The air temperature was only 17 degrees Celsius, the track 21 and the relative humidity 87 per cent. This spelt trouble for all the teams as they grappled with tyre choice.

The opening lap saw Raikkonen pull clear ahead of Barrichello, with de la Rosa third, but more notable was the rise of Michael Schumacher from 11 to fourth and of Alonso from 14th to sixth, sandwiching Giancarlo Fisichella in fifth.

Felipe Massa, by contrast, went backwards from second to seventh - a pointer of what lay ahead for Ferrari on this dark, overcast and miserable day.

Raikkonen, flying like a Finn is reputed to travel, drove his McLaren Mercedes-Benz with great skill in the opening laps to open up a big lead while Alonso worked his way forward.

The 25-year-old Spaniard passed his great title rival Schumacher, in his Ferrari, round the outside of turn five on the fourth lap to take fourth place.

Soon after this, Australian Mark Webber went out in his Williams as the rain fell and various others crashed and spun off.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, continued to pull away at the front and Briton Jenson Button also worked his way forward, moving up fourth when he passed Schumacher on lap seven, after starting 14th on the grid.

Christian Klien and Massa were both among the spinners before, as the race and the weather settled down briefly, it was possible to note that by lap 15 Raikkonen led ahead of de la Rosa, Alonso, Button and Schumacher, who was struggling to keep pace.

The first batch of pitstops preceded a spell of incidents which saw Fisichella, who had finally passed Michael Schumacher after an almighty battle and several wheel-bashing battles, spin and recover.

When Raikkonen went in, Alonso was handed the lead and he took it with aplomb, leaving the Finn to chase after him.

Michael Schumacher pitted for repairs, having come off worse in his close encounters with Fisichella's Renault and when, after 26 laps, Raikkonen drove into the back of Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso and smashed them both out of the race, the rest dived in for pitstops, too.

It was a strange gift for Liuzzi on his 25th birthday.

When the safety car returned to the pitlane, Alonso was left out in front on a drying track that quickly raised questions about the tyres choice again.

Button, proving how much improved his Honda team have been in recent weeks, was in a comfortable second place with de la Rosa third.

Michael Schumacher on lap 39 clocked a fastest lap of the race to prove he was not quite a spent force, even if he had been lapped earlier by Alonso just a lap before Raikkonen's smash.

As the circuit began to dry rapidly, with 30 laps remaining, it was clear another altogether different kind of race " a contest on a dry surface with dry-weather tyres " was likely to emerge. Scott Speed, in his Toro Rosso, was the first to switch, but soon reversed his choice.

The safety car intervention had of course closed up the field and the ending of the rain merely accentuated the change in weather, tactics and fortunes.

This triggered the drama that followed when Alonso, having led comfortably, came in for his second pitstop after 51 laps and switched to dry-weather tyres.

However, within a few hundred metres, he was in trouble and he grappled for control and then crashed out, gifting Button the lead and Schumacher a world title reprieve.

PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS The Hungarian Grand Prix The Hungaroring, Hungary; 70 laps; 306.663km; Weather: Wet, then dry. Classified: Pos Driver Team Time 1. Button Honda (M) 1h52:20.941 2. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) + 30.837 3. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) + 43.822 4. Barrichello Honda (M) + 45.205 5. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) + 1 lap 6. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) + 1 lap 7. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) + 1 lap 8. Massa Ferrari (B) + 1 lap 9. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) + 3 laps 10. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) + 3 laps 11. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) + 3 laps 12. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) + 4 laps 13. Trulli Toyota (B) + 5 laps 14. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) + 5 laps Fastest lap: Massa, 1:23.516 Not classified/retirements: Driver Team On lap Alonso Renault (M) 52 Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 26 Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 26 Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 22 Fisichella Renault (M) 23 Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 7 Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 2 Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1 World Championship standings, round 13: Drivers: Constructors:  1. Alonso 100 1. Renault 149 2. M.Schumacher 89 2. Ferrari 140 3. Massa 51 3. McLaren-Mercedes 85 4. Raikkonen 49 4. Honda 52 5. Fisichella 49 5. BMW-Sauber 28 6. Button 31 6. Toyota 26 7. Montoya 26 7. Red Bull-Ferrari 16 8. Barrichello 21 8. Williams-Cosworth 10 9. Heidfeld 19 9. Toro Rosso-Cosworth 1 10. R.Schumacher 16 11. Coulthard 14 12. Trulli 10 13. de la Rosa 10 14. Villeneuve 7 15. Webber 6 16. Rosberg 4 17. Kubica 2 18. Klien 2 19. Liuzzi 1 All timing unofficial 
Webber expects announcement next week

Previous article

Webber expects announcement next week

Next article

Button relieved after overdue victory

Button relieved after overdue victory
Load comments
The IndyCar feature that Paul Ricard desperately needs in F1 Plus

The IndyCar feature that Paul Ricard desperately needs in F1

OPINION: The French Grand Prix offered a surprisingly interesting spectacle, despite the headache-inducing nature of the circuit. But IndyCar's Road America race offered far more in terms of action - and the increased jeopardy at the Elkhart Lake venue might be something Paul Ricard needs in future...

French Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

French Grand Prix Driver Ratings

The French GP was a weekend decided by tiny margins both at the front of the field, as Red Bull inflicted a comeback defeat on Mercedes, and in the battle for the minor points places. That's reflected in our driver ratings, where several drivers came close to a maximum score

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2021
How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes Plus

How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes

The French GP has been a stronghold for Mercedes since Paul Ricard's return to the calendar in 2018. But that all changed on Sunday, as a clever two-stop strategy guided Red Bull's Max Verstappen to make a race-winning pass on the penultimate lap - for once leaving Mercedes to experience the pain of late defeat it has so often inflicted on Red Bull

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2021
The new age of sponsorship facilitated by F1’s relevancy push Plus

The new age of sponsorship facilitated by F1’s relevancy push

The age of the high-profile title sponsor is over, says JONATHAN NOBLE, but Formula 1’s commitment to technological innovation is attracting high-tech partners

Formula 1
Jun 20, 2021
How Britain’s lost Ferrari star epitomised a bygone F1 era Plus

How Britain’s lost Ferrari star epitomised a bygone F1 era

The 1956 Italian Grand Prix was over for Juan Manuel Fangio, along with his hopes of winning the world championship – until his Ferrari team-mate (and title rival) voluntarily surrendered his own car so Fangio could continue. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls Peter Collins, a remarkable sportsman

Formula 1
Jun 19, 2021
The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France Plus

The 'surprise' Mercedes time that puts F1's victory fight back on a knife-edge in France

Red Bull led the way after the first two practice sessions for the 2021 French Grand Prix, but only just ahead of Mercedes. There was all the usual practice skulduggery complicating the performance picture, but one aspect seen at the world champion squad gave it a ‘surprise’ lift, as it looks to leave its street-circuit struggles firmly in the past

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Plus

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Plus

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021