Vettel lost out to Button’s McLaren but says winning was “not impossible” in Hungary.
|Sebastian Vettel||Mark Webber|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’19.815 (-0.659)||1’20.474|
Red Bull drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
Friday practice gave an indication that the Hungaroring might see a continuation of Vettel’s below-par performance at the Nurburgring.
He took steps to address that, demanding wholesale changes to the car which kept the team working late into the night, breaking the curfew for the first time this year. Among the changes were a move away from the new suspension configuration to the previous design.
It paid off on Saturday: Vettel was fastest in final practice and claimed his eighth pole position of the year. But there was no doubt the McLarens were pushing him hard.
The pressure continued in the damp conditions on race day. Lewis Hamilton hounded him relentlessly in the opening laps until Vettel ran wide at turn two on the fifth lap, surrendering the lead.
Now Vettel began to feel the heat from Jenson Button. The McLaren driver made his move after they changed to slick tyres, gaining far better traction out of turn one and claiming second place.
Webber edged closer to Vettel at this phase of the race, and gained more time through their second pit stops, reducing Vettel’s margin to 2.5 seconds. A pair of rapid times from Vettel on laps 31 and 32 doubled that lead, and left Webber to worry about Fernando Alonso behind him.
After his third pit stop Vettel briefly fell behind Alonso, who was on super-soft tyres and nearing the end of his fourth stint. Vettel lost no time passing the Ferrari, slipstreaming past on the main straight using his DRS.
Though he could do nothing about Button ahead, Hamilton’s problems elevated the world champion back to second place.
But Vettel felt he’d missed out on a chance to win: “Today I’m not 100 percent happy because I started from pole. I had the feeling we could have won the race, but pace-wise it was not impossible.
“It was a difficult one, especially with the conditions as Jenson said, with the rain, very, very slippery at some stages, many drivers making small mistakes here and there.
“I saw Jenson nearly lose it two corners from the end. It always depends, obviously but yeah, as I said, not 100 percent happy.”
The 18 points increases his championship lead to 85 points with eight rounds remaining. It’s increasingly hard to see anyone rivalling him for this year’s title.
“Third row is not where I want to be,” said Webber after qualifying, “I didn’t get the best out of the car and out of the tyres.”
“KERS was up and down a bit, I didn’t have it in Q2, I had it on the last lap in Q3, but in the end I wasn’t quick enough and couldn’t get the lap time.”
Starting on the damp side of the track, Webber lost out to the two Mercedes on lap one.
But he was soon past Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa’s spin promoted him to sixth.
Webber was the very first driver into the pits to switch to slicks and he made the most out of the change. His first lap on slick tyres was particularly impressive – three-and-a-half seconds quicker than Massa and almost the same as Button managed one lap later when the track was drier.
He seized the opportunity to pass Alonso, taking fourth place as the Ferrari driver came out of the pits on lap 14. Webber ran wide at turn one on the next lap but had already built enough of a gap over Alonso to keep his position.
But it cost him over a second to Vettel. Although he reduced the laps over the following laps, Vettel pulled away during the third stint.
By now Webber was preoccupied with keeping Alonso behind, and then lost the place when Alonso pitted very early on lap 36.
Unlike his team mate, Webber took on intermediate tyres when the rain came – which proved to be the wrong decision.
“I thought it was going to be heavier – so I went for the intermediate tyres, but it didn’t come,” he said.
“The team didn’t say too much about the rain, so I thought it was a bit of a surprise shower, but I made the decision to go for the intermediates.
“It didn’t work out for Lewis and I with this gamble – and it looks stupid in hindsight when the track dries out, but if it had rained strong enough for another few minutes, then it would have been the right tyre.”
The delay cost him any hope of getting his place back from Alonso and dropped him behind Massa again. Webber picked off the Ferrari easily on lap 57, but now he had Hamilton’s McLaren pushing him.
On lap 63 they hit a string of lapped cars and Hamilton pounced, taking fourth place off Webber at turn four. Over the final laps Webber continued to chase the McLaren but he had to settle for fifth.
2011 Hungarian Grand Prix
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