Hamilton picks up first Formula One win of 2009 at Hungarian Grand Prix
Paul Logothetis, The Associated Press
Published Sunday, July 26, 2009 1:14PM EDT
BUDAPEST, Hungary - McLaren's Lewis Hamilton won his first Formula One race of the season Sunday at a Hungarian Grand Prix overshadowed by the absence of Felipe Massa, who remained hospitalized with life-threatening injuries from a crash a day earlier.
Hamilton won for the first time since last year's Chinese Grand Prix, snapping a streak of 11 races without a podium finish.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen came second and Red Bull's Mark Webber finished third. Webber moved to second in the overall title race, after teammate Sebastian Vettel retired with an engine problem.
Massa, meanwhile, remained sedated in a hospital with multiple skull fractures after a crash in his Ferrari during qualifying. Massa's place on the grid was left vacant.
"I've had a great relationship and we've had some great battles and not to see him today was difficult," said Hamilton, who beat Massa by a single point in the 2008 championship following a battle that stretched to the final corner of the final lap of the season. "We miss him and wish him well and wish him a speedy recovery."
Pole sitter Fernando Alonso of Renault retired early after one of his front tires came off and overall leader Jenson Button finished seventh. The Brawn GP driver now leads Webber by 18.5 points.
Hamilton, who finished 11.5 seconds ahead of Raikkonen, started pumping his fists in celebration before even crossing the line, unable to rein in his emotions following a largely frustrating season for the British driver and his team.
He patted the No. 1 sticker on his car emphatically after emerging from the cockpit and then had to wrestle the celebratory champagne back from team principal Martin Whitmarsh as McLaren returned to the podium for the first time this season.
"It's an incredible feeling to be back here after what feels such a long time away, and such a struggle with me and my team," Hamilton said after his 10th career win. "We didn't expect to win this season. Undoubtedly we caught up this weekend."
Massa was struck in the helmet Saturday by a loose piece from another car, causing him to crash into the tire barrier at high speed. During the race, Ferrari's garage displayed a banner reading "Forza Felipe Siamo Con Te" -- or "Be Strong Felipe, We Are With You."
"It was very unfortunate what happened. Yesterday was terrifically freakish," Webber said. "But we don't want to get too carried away with it. We missed him on the grid but the show must go on."
It was Button's worst result this season after winning six of the first seven races, and moved him to 70 points in the overall standings. Webber has 51.5 points, while Vettel's retirement after 29 laps left him on 47 points.
Brawn GP's Rubens Barrichello finished 10th to stay on 44 points as Red Bull also trimmed Brawn GP's lead in the constructors' series to 15.5 points with seven races left.
"We're still up here, we haven't been blown away by any means," Webber said. "We're still a force."
Hamilton was closing in on Alonso before the pole sitter was forced to retire when his front right tire came off the car and bounced wildly down the track. F1's safety measures are likely to be questioned further with that scene coming a day after Massa's accident and one week since F2 driver Henry Surtees, son of former F1 champion John Surtees, died in a crash caused by a loose tire.
Hamilton muscled past Raikkonen at the first turn and then eventually got past Webber to pull away from Raikkonen following Alonso's exit.
Hamilton's girlfriend -- pop singer Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls -- was jumping up and down in the McLaren garage toward the end of the race.
"It's a good day for the sport. Lewis is back and McLaren is back," Webber said.
Vettel's retirement came after a poor start and a slight collision with Raikkonen around the first corner, when the young German dropped from second to seventh.
"I was on the inside, had a clean run to accelerate and then his car came sideways and yeah, we touched," Vettel said. "He crashed into my car."
Nico Rosberg of Williams was fourth for the second straight race and McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen was fifth.
Toyota pair Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli completed the points places after finishing sixth and eighth, respectively.
Jaime Alguersuari, who became the youngest driver to start an F1 race at 19 years 126 days, finished ahead of last-place Toro Rosso teammate Sebastien Buemi in 15th on his debut.