Lewis Hamilton cruised to victory from pole at the Hungaroring to record his first victory for Mercedes since his switch from McLaren at the end of last season, writes James Oliver.

Relief | Lewis Hamilton holds the winner's trophy aloft after his first race victory for Mercedes. (Image | The Telegraph)

Relief | Lewis Hamilton holds the winner’s trophy aloft after his first race victory for Mercedes. (Image | The Telegraph)

His victory, beating Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel into second and third respectively, was Hamilton’s fourth at the track and all the more impressive considering Mercedes’ history with high rear tyre degradation in soaring temperatures.

The lack of this on Hamilton’s rears enabled the Briton to drive in his normal style without having to nurse the tyres, as has been the case throughout the Formula 1 World Championship this year.

A key moment in the Mercedes driver’s race came after his first pit stop, when he was able to quickly pass his former team mate, Jenson Button, rather than being held up behind the McLaren driver and allowing Vettel to catch up.

Hamilton, who had said he needed a “miracle” in order to win the race, also passed Mark Webber twice, allowing him to build up a significant lead over his nearest rivals and consequently cruise to victory.

Räikkönen’s second-place finish put him one point ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who finished fifth, but his second race victory of the year remains elusive, even though the Lotus car has been very quick all year.

Having been pre-race favourites alongside team mate Romain Grosjean, who was once again involved in race incidents, the Finn held off the reigning champion in the final laps to secure another points finish.

Grosjean showcased his impressive speed once again in the opening laps, but had his push for a win stalled due to his drive-through penalty for overtaking Felipe Massa on the outside of turn four. This was due to all four of his tyres leaving the race track.

His other punishment, handed down from the stewards after the race, was a twenty-second penalty for causing a collision with Button. These kinds of incidents with Grosjean are not surprising and, if this trait continues, it is only a matter of time before Lotus have to consider whether his race pace outweighs his tendency to cause collisions.

Vettel took the final place on the podium after a difficult start on the dirty side of the track, where he struggled to keep his place into the first corner.

However, he will not be too disappointed with this result as his main opponents for the title, Alonso and Räikkönen, both lost ground and only picked up three points respectively.

The Red Bull driver’s race was mainly affected by tactical errors made by his team on his release from the pit stops and also a KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) issue.

His release from the pits enabled Button to gain a place on Vettel and, aided by the German driver breaking part of his front wing on the back of the McLaren, Button was able to hold him off for a long time.

This allowed Hamilton to pull clear but also resulted in Vettel’s KERS system overheating, causing him to drop back even further from the pursuit and ultimately lose out on the chance of a race victory.

Webber battled his way up from 10th place to fourth in an impressive drive from the veteran Australian, but Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg suffered another frustrating day, having to retire after falling back from the front.

Pastor Maldonado gained his first point for Williams in a difficult season, finishing 10th, but world-title contender Alonso wound up fifth after struggling with the speed of the car throughout.

Ferrari were also fined £13,000 for the misuse of DRS by the Spanish driver, to cap an altogether unfortunate weekend for the team.

Some may now be touting Hamilton for the title, but in my opinion this seems somewhat premature. Although the British driver won here, it is his first triumph of the season and the reliability issues that have plagued Mercedes during so many races are still there, made apparent by Rosberg’s non-finish.

However, at the traditional halfway point of the season and allied with his upturn in form, the next few races (some of which are Hamilton’s favourites) will be crucial in determining whether the 2008 champion can stall Vettel’s march towards a fourth consecutive Formula 1 World Championship.

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