Mon, Aug 07, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Jenson Button gets his first win at Hungary GP

WORTH THE WAIT The British Formula One driver was overjoyed to get onto the top step of the podium at last after going 112 races without a win

AGENCIES , BUDAPEST

British Formula One driver Jenson Button celebrates on the podium after winning the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring race track in Hungary yesterday.

PHOTO: EPA

Briton Jenson Button raced through the rain to seize an emotional first Formula One victory in a Hungarian Grand Prix thriller yesterday.

"Over the last 10 laps, I just didn't want the race to end," said the Honda driver, finally a winner after one of the longest waits in the sport's history. "I wanted it to go on forever, I was loving it."

"What a day. It's been amazing. Coming through from 14th place, I couldn't have done it a better way," he said.

While the 26-year-old celebrated success at the 113th attempt, Renault's world champion Alonso trudged away without a point after leading for much of the afternoon.

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher also failed to score, retiring three laps from the finish to leave the title battle between the two as finely balanced as ever with Alonso 11 points ahead and five races remaining.

Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa was second for McLaren, the first podium finish for a man who started the season as a test driver before replacing Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya.

Germany's Nick Heidfeld was third for BMW Sauber.

Alonso's car slewed and skidded into the tire barriers with 18 laps to go while in the lead after a breathtaking charge from 15th place on the grid in wet conditions that caught out out plenty of others.

Initial reports suggested a drive shaft failure was to blame.

"After the stop I had a feeling something was not in order. I wanted to get back to the box, but it was not possible," Alonso said. "We were extremely fast at first. It's a shame. But it happens to everyone."

Button's win, from 14th on the grid after a 10-place penalty for an engine change on Saturday, was Honda's first as a constructor since 1967 and provided a story book ending to a weekend full of drama and surprise.

The first British winner of a grand prix since David Coulthard for McLaren in Australia in 2003, Button finished 30.8 seconds clear of de la Rosa.

By coincidence, the last race winner for Honda was also a Briton -- former champion John Surtees in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

"It's great that I've won after so long and that I don't have to do those interviews any more where they say `you've done 113 races without a win,'" Button said.

"It's going to be `He's won his first race and looking forwards to the next one' which takes a lot of weight off my shoulders," he said.

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, a winner in Hungary for Ferrari in 2002, took fourth place for Honda. Coulthard was fifth in a Red Bull and Toyota's Ralf Schumacher sixth.

Poland's Robert Kubica took two points on his debut for BMW Sauber with Brazilian Felipe Massa eighth for Ferrari after a nightmare afternoon.

Hungary, so often providing one of the duller processional races on the calendar, turned out to be a roller-coaster and the first of the season without a Ferrari or Renault in the top three.

Schumacher, seven-times a world champion and winner of the last three races, had been lapped by Alonso after 25 laps, but was back and fighting for second place when he retired with Alonso already out.

Penalized two seconds in qualifying, like Alonso, he also had to pit for a new front wing after a collision with Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella as the Italian went past.

The first wet race in years transformed a slow and twisty circuit, where overtaking is usually a rare treat, into one that offered more passing maneuvers than anyone could ever have imagined.

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