MCLAREN’S Lewis Hamilton passed up a golden opportunity to close the gap on championship leader Sebastian Vettel and blamed a faulty radio as he was forced to watch team-mate Jenson Button take the spoils at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Hamilton, who won last week in Germany, held the advantage in a thrilling battle with Button, but surrendered the initiative when he changed to intermediate tyres shortly before the heavens opened. But the track dried almost immediately and a frustrated Hamilton was forced to make a costly extra pit stop.
“We were having radio issues,” Hamilton said. “I could hear my engineers, but they couldn’t hear me.
“I heard them say it was going to rain and it was already spitting, so we opted to go for the wet tyres. I think they called me in and I did the lap. It wasn’t necessarily the best call, but that’s motor racing.”
The tyre mishap aside, Hamilton’s hopes of victory were set to be dashed by a penalty for nudging Paul di Resta’s Force India off the road as the McLaren did a spin-turn to rejoin after an error at the chicane.
“I made a big mistake,” Hamilton admitted. “My left front tyre was pretty worn so I went a bit wide at the chicane and spun. Then after that I honestly have to apologise to Paul di Resta.”
Button (left), the main beneficiary of Hamilton’s woes, enjoyed sparring with his British compatriot on the way to securing the 11th win of his career.
“It was a lot of fun racing with Lewis – it always is,” said Button.
Despite mixed fortunes for the individuals, the last two races have represented major steps in the right direction for McLaren, a fact noted by championship leader Sebastian Vettel, who finished second at Spa for Red Bull.
He said: “We got good points today but there is a long, long way to go. We have seen how quickly things can change so we need to make sure we see the chequered flag.”
STANDINGS | DRIVERS’ TITLE
1. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull 234 points
2. Mark Webber, Red Bull 149
3. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren 146
4. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari 145
5. Jenson Button, McLaren 134