Lewis Hamilton emerges as a genuine contender after a genuinely surprising victory
Lewis now 48 points behind Vettel after commanding Hungarian win
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 29/07/13 9:53am
Lewis Hamilton has insisted he wasn't bluffing when he said he needed "a miracle" to win the Hungarian GP after securing his maiden victory for Mercedes at the Hungaroring.
Delivering the perfect marriage of aggressive overtaking with fine-judged frontrunning from pole position, Hamilton produced one of the drives of his career to comprehensively defeat Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.
"It's an incredible feeling," the Mercedes driver enthused. "This is surely one of the most important wins of my career. To move to a new team and win for Mercedes-Benz is a real privilege. I couldn't be happier."
In the wake of securing a third successive pole position, Hamilton all-but ruled out his victory chances due to the W04's corrosive habit of overheating its rear tyres - a weakness which was expected to be especially pronounced in the searing heat of Budapest. But in the event, the Pirellis held on and it was Hamilton who instead turned up the heat on his rivals to secure a convincing win - which he later dedicated to former girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger - and spectacularly rekindle his World Championship hopes.
"We had no idea it was going to go that well, we really weren't expecting it," Hamilton assured Sky Sports F1. "The tyres were a dream. On the first stint, the tyres were so-so, and they went off two laps before the Red Bull's. I called the pit-stop at just the right time because if I had done another lap then I would have probably been overtaken. But I came out ahead and as soon as I did I knew I had a chance to win."
Key to victory were the series of breathtaking overtakes Hamilton pulled off after returning to the track after each of his three pit-stops. While Vettel lost in excess of ten seconds as he trailed Jenson Button for over fourteen laps, Hamilton almost immediately found a way around his former McLaren team-mate, while he twice surged past Mark Webber on fresh rubber - with the second move sufficiently robust to spook the Red Bull driver to veer off track. In more ways than one, there really was no stopping Hamilton this weekend.
"I needed to pull those moves off," reflected Hamilton regarding his passes on Webber. "I hope he's cool about it. He's very fair and a great racer, but I couldn't get held up else I would have backed up into Kimi and Sebastian. I think you can tell that I was hungry for it today. I went for it with every move I had."
And what of the World Championship? Is Hamilton, still 48 points behind Vettel in the standings, now a bona-fide contender?
"I hope so. I honestly believe in this team and that this car is fast enough to compete with the Red Bull. As long as the tyres don't let us down, we'll be in there in the fight."
Then let battle commence.