Hungarian Grand Prix: 'I made big mistake' admits Lewis Hamilton after chicane spin
It was a mixed day for McLaren at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Delight for Jenson Button, despair and disappointment for Lewis Hamilton.
After leading for much of the race, Hamilton's afternoon fell apart when he stayed on the super-soft Pirelli tyres after pitting on lap 40, spun on lap 47 and later made another pit stop for intermediate tyres that became redundant when the rain soon stopped again.
"I made a big mistake," he confessed afterwards. "My left front tyre was pretty worn so I went a bit wide at the chicane and spun, which is very, very rare." Resuming with a spin-turn, he delayed Paul di Resta and was given a drive-through penalty, which finally killed his chances. "I didn't see him," he said. "I had absolutely no clue. But I apologise to him."
Of the stop for intermediate tyres, he explained: "We were having radio issues. I could hear my engineers and was constantly asking for information but they couldn't hear me. So it was a very difficult call for them. I think there was perhaps one point when they got some information from me but maybe it was only a little bit. I heard them say it was going to rain and it was already spitting, so we opted to go for the intermediates. I think they called me in and I did the lap. Anyway, the tyres went off and it wasn't necessarily the best call, but that's motor racing."
Eventually, Hamilton salvaged fourth place after overtaking Webber on the 63rd lap but he would have done better to take a set of soft-compound tyres in his third pit stop, as Button did.
"Congratulations to Jenson," Hamilton said afterwards. "He was pushing me hard the whole race, and the better man won today."
"The reason why we won today is because we are quick," Button added. "Even if it hadn't rained it wouldn't have mattered. It was a very tough race. It was hard keeping it on the road."
Pole sitter Vettel bounced back from a season-worst fourth place at the German GP, after he was overtaken early on by Hamilton and then Button. "I think second today is an important step although the win was in reach today, but we couldn't get it," Vettel said. "It's clear in the last couple of races they've made some steps forward. There was a chance and we didn't use it, so we have to look into that.
"I was struggling a bit on the intermediate tyres at the start," he admitted. "Lewis was faster and then I lost it going into Turn 2, which was pretty tricky. I was pushing too hard and realised I had gone into the corner too late, so I opened up the steering to avoid spinning on the slippery paint on the kerb there, and lost the lead.
"After that the circuit was drying, and maybe I could have come in earlier. The super-soft tyre was quite good initially, but in the last stint I had to let Jenson go as I had a couple of problems with the brakes.
"I'm not 100 per cent happy because I started from pole and had the feeling that I could have won the race and that was the target, but the important thing was to bring the car home and many people apart from Jenson finished behind us."
Fernando Alonso recovered from having to chase the fast-starting Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher early on, then getting trapped for two stints behind Webber's Red Bull, as a four-stop strategy helped him through to a solid podium finish.
"In these type of conditions the race is very, very long, so you need always to be focused," Alonso said.