BUDAPEST, Hungary – Lewis Hamilton learned a lot about his McLaren team after a stressful weekend of racing.
“How strong they are and how they deal with all the distractions,” he said Sunday after winning the Hungarian Grand Prix for his third Formula One victory of the year. “I don’t believe any other team could cope with it better.”
McLaren was penalized for hindering his qualifying efforts.
“With all the drama all weekend, it would have been easy to lose focus,” Hamilton said.
He was followed by Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari, Nick Heidfeld of BMW-Sauber and defending F1 champion Fernando Alonso of McLaren. Hamilton gained in the standings and leads Alonso 80-73 in points.
Hamilton was jubilant after crossing the line, pumping his arms in the car during the victory lap and then on the podium, where he was the sole McLaren representative. The team was not awarded the trophy because of the penalty by the governing body.
Alonso was penalized five places from the pole position Saturday after stewards ruled McLaren had delayed Hamilton on the final pit stop in qualifying. Alonso was timed at being stationary more than 30 seconds after the tires were changed before heading out while Hamilton waited behind him in the pits.
FIA, the governing body, ruled that since Hamilton was delayed for no apparent reason, Alonso would be dropped from the front spot.
“The issues that faced us, not just this weekend but also in the previous month, has tested the resolve of the whole team,” McLaren team leader Ron Dennis said.
Ferrari and McLaren have won all 11 races this season, and the two teams are embroiled in a legal dispute concerning leaked information and sabotage.
Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen have three wins apiece. Raikkonen has 60 points for third place in the standings. The next race is the Turkish GP on Aug. 26.
McLaren leads the constructors’ standings with 138 points while Ferrari has 119. McLaren stayed at 138 because any points it won would not count. McLaren is appealing that ruling although it cannot appeal Alonso’s relegation on the starting grid.
Hamilton said he didn’t give up hope while sitting in his car Saturday waiting for Alonso to leave the pits.
“It’s always important to remain positive. You have to stay controlled mentally,” Hamilton said.
Asked after the race about his relationship with Alonso, Hamilton said he respects the Spaniard.
“He doesn’t seem to have been speaking to me since yesterday, so I don’t know if he has a problem,” Hamilton said.
At the start of the race, Hamilton moved away easily while Raikkonen tucked in behind. They essentially stayed that way during the rest of the race, with Heidfeld third, except for pits stops.
“It was quite a boring race just staying behind,” Raikkonen said.
Hamilton went in on the 50th lap and stretched his lead to more than four seconds but began losing ground. By lap 55, he was ahead of Raikkonen by 2.2 seconds and by only a half-second by lap 57. With 13 laps remaining, that was as close as it got.
“When I was in traffic, he was getting closer and closer,” Hamilton said, referring to Raikkonen. “Then when I was able to get a clear lap, I was able to maintain the gap.”
Alonso never made a real run at Heidfeld after struggling with Ralf Schumacher. Robert Kubica of BMW-Sauber was fifth and Schumacher of Toyota was sixth, his best finish of the season.