A fifth of the way in to today's 25th Hungarian Grand Prix and things were looking set for a relatively calm race. Sebastian Vettel had maintained the lead from pole position and had a twelve second lead. Fernando Alonso was second and Mark Webber was biding his time in third. Then a piece of debris on turn 11 transformed things. The safety car was deployed and the pit crews were on the move.
Vettel made a late entry in whilst team mate Webber elected to stay out. Lewis Hamilton took advantage of a slight delay for Felipe Massa to take 4th but chaos would then begin to ensue. Nico Rosberg didn't have his right rear tyre attached properly and it rolled through the Sauber box before being launched 20 feet, almost into the spectator area above the pits before hitting a Williams mechanic. He was taken to the medical centre but returned later and even took part in Rubens Barrichello's pitstop later in the race! Meanwhile Renault released Robert Kubica as Adrian Sutil was pulling into the next box and the pair collided. The Pole received a stop/go penalty and retired soon after. Both Mercedes and Renault were fined $50,000.
Webber now led from Vettel but the German was having some radio issues and seemed to allow his focus to drop. He didn't stay close to Webber during the safety car period and when the restart was happening Vettel appeared unaware and claimed afterward that he had no radio message alerting him and didn't see the lights go out on the safety car. His lack of awareness and Webber's eagerness to get a gap pulled to jump Alonso meant he was over 100 metres behind. Cars must stay within 10 car lengths and Vettel soon had a drive through. He served it whilst gesturing furiously, confused as to why he had been penalised. He lost a position to Alonso but was still 3rd.
The race for victory was now on. Webber had been off the pace through Friday and Saturday, not entirely happy with his car and a bit scrappy. The opportunity to take a 4th win of the season enlivened the Australian and he put in a stunning stint of driving, opening up a 22 second gap to pit and maintain a lead. He had took full advantage of the window of opportunity presented to him. Vettel was right behind Alonso but still a bit frustrated. Alonso was excellent, consistent and navigated the traffic superbly.
Lewis Hamilton meanwhile was out of the race after losing drive. He'll hope that he won't need a gearbox change for Spa or else he'll face a 5 place grid drop. The remaining points scorers were well behind but it was excellent results for Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg in 5th and 6th. Sauber celebrated their 300th grand prix with a double points finish. Pedro de la Rosa got off the mark this season with 7th whilst Kamui Kobayashi came from the back row to finish 9th behind Jenson Button who recovered from a poor start. He was helped by an early stop before the safety car was deployed.
Rubens Barrichello was 10th after a different strategy. The Brazilian ran long on the hard tyre, not pitting until the last 15 laps. He emerged 11th behind former team mate Michael Schumacher. He set after the Mercedes on his fresh rubber and had a couple of close attempts. With 5 laps left he was finally close enough. Schumacher moved right but Barrichello went down the inside towards turn 1. Schumacher kept squeezing and shoved Barrichello within centimetres of the concrete wall. The Brazilian bravely kept his foot in and even took to the grass to make the move stick. Schumacher was widely criticised but the German defended his actions. The stewards disagreed and Schumacher has been given a 10 place grid drop for Belgium in 4 weeks.
Webber's 6th career win in his 150th race gives him the championship lead. Fernando Alonso remains 5th but is within 20 points. It is simply incredibly close. Red Bull celebrated their 100th grand prix with a 12th win and now lead the constructors championship. They will be frustrated that their massive car advantage was not turned into a 1-2. This advantage could be cut in Spa however as the FIA are to increase the loads that are applied in front wing tests. This may mean that Red Bull will have to make alterations to their front wing at the loss of performance.
Adrian Newey will be hard at work to get round this. The teams will have to take an enforced two week break though at some stage in the month. Belgium will offer a different challenge and McLaren will be desperate to turnaround their fortunes after a lacklustre weekend. Red Bull are back on top but Alonso is on the prowl. It's a long break for the fans but the championship is set up beautifully for a sensational finale.