• Hamilton forced out by transmission problem with McLaren
• Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel handed 10-second penalty
Lewis Hamilton, the leader of the Formula One drivers’ championship at the start of the day, saw his world title hopes take a blow after being forced to retire from the Hungarian grand prix.
Hamilton had been losing time to the front four, as the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber tussled with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa of Ferrari. Following the deployment of the safety car on lap 16 because of debris on the track, Hamilton was able to move ahead of Massa – but the Briton pulled off the track on lap 24 because of a transmission problem with his McLaren.
“I went through turn one and basically lost drive,” Hamilton told the BBC. “I think the gearbox went. That’s motorsport. When you push cars to the limit these things can happen. We’ve lost a lot of points today.”
There was further drama as Vettel, who had begun the race on pole, was handed a 10-second penalty for exceeding 10 car lengths behind the safety car. Vettel, who had dropped to third behind Webber and Alonso, was furious at the decision but was told by his team over the radio: “It’s because of the restart. Hamilton’s out of the race. Stay focused.”
Nico Rosberg, who had been running sixth in his Mercedes, was the instigator of further mayhem in the pit lane after his crew failed to fit his right-rear tyre correctly. As Rosberg pulled out on to the pit lane the tyre worked loose, initially rolling and then bouncing its way through the other pit crews.
Whether it was a distraction to Renault’s pit team is unclear, but Robert Kubica was released too early by his lollipop man as he ran into the side of Force India’s Adrian Sutil just as he was about to come into the pit entry box.
The damage was too great for Sutil to continue, although Renault were able to send Kubica on his way again, only for him to receive a 10-second stop-go penalty for an unsafe release from the pits. As for Rosberg, he trundled down to the end of the pit lane on three wheels and, with his crew unable to retrieve him, that is where he retired.