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 Results 2006 Racereport

Racereport


Maiden Button win in chaotic Hungarian GP

Briton Jenson Button won his first Formula One race on Sunday when he came home ahead of Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa at the end of a wild, dramatic and rain-swept Hungarian Grand Prix.

The 26-year-old Honda driver worked his way through the field after starting from 14th place on the grid and took full advantage of the misfortunes of several other leading drivers.

Both championship contenders Fernando Alonso of Renault and seven-time champion German Michael Schumacher of Ferrari failed to score points.

Pole-sitting Finn Kimi Raikkonen, in his McLaren Mercedes-Benz, led for a long period from the start but failed to score after crashing. Alonso crashed out, too, but only after a wheel nut flew off his car and Schumacher abandoned the race with four laps remaining when he was third due to mechanical problems.

It was Briton Button's maiden win at the 113th attempt and proof, at last, that he and Honda have the potential to deliver the results they have been promising for months, if not years.

Button, 26, came home 30.8 seconds ahead of de la Rosa, with German Nick Heidfeld third for the BMW Sauber team.

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello was fourth in the second Honda and 35-year-old Briton David Coulthard fifth for Red Bull Ferrari. Apart from Schumacher, 37, the Scot is the oldest driver in the sport. German Ralf Schumacher was sixth for Toyota.

Poland's Robert Kubica finished seventh on his Formula One debut in the second BMW Sauber to take two points, a remarkable performance for someone in their first outing. Brazilian Felipe Massa scored a solitary point for Ferrari by finishing eighth.

The race was dominated by changing weather and unexpected incidents that saw pole-sitter Finn Kimi Raikkonen lead and then crash out when he drove into Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso car and subsequent leader 25-year-old Spaniard Alonso lose control and hit the barriers in his Renault while ahead 18 laps to go.

He crashed after switching from intermediate to dry tyres. A wheel nut worked lose and flew off. This gifted the race to Button.

The race began in wet conditions with puddles on several parts of the circuit. The air temperature was only 17 degrees Celsius, the track 21 and the relative humidity 87 per cent. This spelt trouble for all the teams as they grappled with tyre choice.

The opening lap saw Raikkonen pull clear ahead of Barrichello, with de la Rosa third, but more notable was the rise of Michael Schumacher from 11 to fourth and of Alonso from 14th to sixth, sandwiching Giancarlo Fisichella in fifth.

Felipe Massa, by contrast, went backwards from second to seventh - a pointer of what lay ahead for Ferrari on this dark, overcast and miserable day.

Raikkonen, flying like a Finn is reputed to travel, drove his McLaren Mercedes-Benz with great skill in the opening laps to open up a big lead while Alonso worked his way forward.

The 25-year-old Spaniard passed his great title rival Schumacher, in his Ferrari, round the outside of turn five on the fourth lap to take fourth place.

Soon after this, Australian Mark Webber went out in his Williams as the rain fell and various others crashed and spun off.

Raikkonen, meanwhile, continued to pull away at the front and Briton Jenson Button also worked his way forward, moving up fourth when he passed Schumacher on lap seven, after starting 14th on the grid.

Christian Klien and Massa were both among the spinners before, as the race and the weather settled down briefly, it was possible to note that by lap 15 Raikkonen led ahead of de la Rosa, Alonso, Button and Schumacher, who was struggling to keep pace.

The first batch of pitstops preceded a spell of incidents which saw Fisichella, who had finally passed Michael Schumacher after an almighty battle and several wheel-bashing battles, spin and recover.

When Raikkonen went in, Alonso was handed the lead and he took it with aplomb, leaving the Finn to chase after him.

Michael Schumacher pitted for repairs, having come off worse in his close encounters with Fisichella's Renault and when, after 26 laps, Raikkonen drove into the back of Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi's Toro Rosso and smashed them both out of the race, the rest dived in for pitstops, too.

It was a strange gift for Liuzzi on his 25th birthday.

When the safety car returned to the pitlane, Alonso was left out in front on a drying track that quickly raised questions about the tyres choice again.

Button, proving how much improved his Honda team have been in recent weeks, was in a comfortable second place with de la Rosa third.

Michael Schumacher on lap 39 clocked a fastest lap of the race to prove he was not quite a spent force, even if he had been lapped earlier by Alonso just a lap before Raikkonen's smash.

As the circuit began to dry rapidly, with 30 laps remaining, it was clear another altogether different kind of race " a contest on a dry surface with dry-weather tyres " was likely to emerge. Scott Speed, in his Toro Rosso, was the first to switch, but soon reversed his choice.

The safety car intervention had of course closed up the field and the ending of the rain merely accentuated the change in weather, tactics and fortunes.

This triggered the drama that followed when Alonso, having led comfortably, came in for his second pitstop after 51 laps and switched to dry-weather tyres.

However, within a few hundred metres, he was in trouble and he grappled for control and then crashed out, gifting Button the lead and Schumacher a world title reprieve.

Source: autosport.com


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