Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Mattpt55
The Hungarian GP started under angry skies and turbulent weather. A massive downpour had turned the track into a river 40 minutes before the start of the race and the warmup laps featured anxious drivers and engineers on the radio in a desperate bid to nail the right starting tyre. With the field settling on inters and 3 starters from the pitlane, Kvyat having been stranded at the start of the formation lap, the Grand Prix of Hungary featured everything a proper race should: Safety cars, Spins, Shunts and Strategy, brilliant overtaking, a pitlane to podium drive and a non-Mercedes winner, with a massive dash of teammate controversy thrown in to boot. The best possible send off for the summer break.
The early laps featured a drying track with all the drivers trying to conserve their inters after the first few laps. Hamilton had an early spin with front wing damage and sounded anxious on the radio. Despite this, he recovered and began to carve through the field. Rosberg was not immune; he too had an off all by his lonesome, but without the accompanying damage. And thus it was till Marcus Ericsson decided to shave all the corners off his car, bringing out the safety car. Seizing the moment, with the leaders already past the pit lane, Ricciardo dived into the pits strapping on a pair of softs and making his race. The rest of the field was left to chase the new leader and at the end of the day, they just wouldn’t have enough.
Massive clouds darkened the horizon at the Hungaroring as an epic but short-lived storm had soaked the track shortly before the start. With a whirlwind of activity, the field settled on inters for the start and wound up with 3 pit lane starters as Kvyat was unable to leave the grid for the formation lap. Temperature on the ground was 21◦C with a track temperature of 28◦C, much cooler than yesterday. Both Mercedes taped their brake ducts to help keep temperatures up and the pre-race featured shots of Merc trying to heat Hamilton’s brakes before the start.
AS the lights went out, Rosberg managed a slow but steady start that saw him well clear by turn one. Vettel drifted back into his spray and Bottas, thinking clearly stayed wide and took the position from him. Alonso pounced a turn later as the Red Bull struggled on the wet track. Behind, Hamilton lived up to his dramatic reputation by immediately spinning his car as his brakes were cold as ice and still in passive mode according to race radio. He recovered rapidly with minor front wing damage and the next laps saw him anxiously on the radio making sure the car was copacetic.
Alonso booted turn one on the second lap which allowed Vettel back through and with his car up to temperature the leaders settled in to tiptoe round the rapidly drying track. Further back Lewis began to get it in gear and had managed to get up to P17 by the fifth lap. Rosberg decided to push hard and had opened a substantial gap but paid the price on lap six as he had quite the little off through turn one, which featured as the slipperiest on the track when wet. The drying track began to take its toll as well as more and more drivers began heading off line to pick up water to cool the inters.
This was to be short lived as Marcus Ericsson continued to endear himself to the new Caterham owners by ripping all four corners off his car due to putting a wheel on to the wet AstroTurf. The resulting massive shunt immediately brought out the safety car, but after the leaders had passed the pitlane entry. Button was the first to react, but McLaren apparently had the wrong location dialed into their weather radar and kept Button on inters after a long and confusing stop.
Ricciardo chased Button into the pits and unlike McLaren, Red Bull strapped on a pair of softs without hesitation and thereby turned the race. Passing Button in the pits and emerging P1 made the race and having seized strategic control Red Bull would not relinquish it. Due to the reshuffling, Ricciardo led, followed by Button and Massa. Rosberg was into 5th with Vettel even further back and Bottas into 11th with Hamilton up to 13th.
Button meanwhile demanded certainty over the weather from his team, who were starting to sound less certain as they looked about and saw everyone else off the inters. The Safety Car was in lap 14 and the race was back on, with Button making the most of his inters and taking Ricciardo’s position, but not for long as the promised rain was looking less and less likely. Lewis made the most of his new tyres on the restart and rapidly advanced to 9th behind Vettel. Rosberg was struggling with an issue as there was visible smoke coming from his rear brakes during the safety car period, but he was assured that all was well as the car returned to racing speed.
Rosberg , taking advantage of the good news had an ill-advised go at Magnussen which wound up costing him a place to Vergne who came up the inside at turn 1. All the cars were sliding the rears through the turns as the track had yet to finish drying .
Hulkenberg mucked it up lap 16, collecting his teammate and parking it up out of the last turn, for his first DNF of the seaon and the end of his points scoring streak as well as bringing out the double yellows. DRS returned for lap 17 as Hamilton remained behind Vettel and Vergne was on fire, maintaining his 4th and seemingly keeping Rosberg at bay. An understeery Pastor bounced off the back of Bianchi as Ricciardo continued to dance off down the track, making 5 seconds by lap 20.
Hamilton, seemingly out of patience was once again pressing Vettel, but just couldn’t seem to make it past as his teammate continued to cruise behind Vergne without really looking racy. Lewis continued pressure came at a price as the team warned him of marginal brake temperatures on the fronts. It wasn’t going to be a lasting issue as Sergio Perez was the next to bring out the safety car, with an epic impact into the pitwall following an excursion onto the AstroTurf down the start/finish straight.
Once again Ricciardo was in the right place at the right time and he led the exodus into the pitlane for new tyres. The new order was Alonso Vergne, Rosberg, Vettel Hamilton and Ricciardo as ominous clouds graced the horizon. As the Safety Car prepared to come in, Kobayashi parked it up on lap 26 with an issue. Hamilton was told it was critical to get past Vettel and Vergne, ignoring his teammate entirely and at the restart he got right down to it. With a massive DRS train, it turned out to be no easy task and aside from occasional peeks up the inside, there was nothing in it for Hamilton as neither Mercedes was making headway.
Ricciardo hung back watching tyres as Hamilton continued to struggle with finding a way past. Rosberg opted for pit strategy and boxed on lap 33 and as he did so the gods of the race chose to frown on him. Under relentless pressure Vettel too had taken to the AstroTurf to maintain a gap down the straight and it finally caught him out. Spinning him into the wall and letting Lewis past. Not one to waste an opportunity he immediately chased down Vergne and executed the kind of multi-turn pass that should make even the haters stand up and cheer. Rosberg suffered an extra slow pitstop that was down to removing tape from the brake ducts as the lack of rain meant the brakes were on the temperature limit. This cost him dearly as he slotted back into 11th behind both Bottas and Magnussen as Hamilton drove off into clean air to eat massive chunks of time out of Alonso who was now the next driver up the road. This effort put Lewis in front of his teammate on strategy and a desperate Rosberg radioed for permission to push like crazy to make up the difference before Hamilton had to pit.
Driving like a man possessed, Rosberg took after Bottas and ran him wide through the exit of turn one to get on with the job at hand. The clean air was benefiting Lewis and he continued to extract the maximum from his tyres as Alonso cleared the way by pitting and emerging in front of Rosberg, compounding Nico’s woes. Hamilton finally brought it in on Lap 40, with Mercedes taking extra time to remove the tape from his brake ducts as well as adding a wing adjust as they had chosen to send him out on the Mediums, to try and run to the end of the race. He emerged in front of Rosberg and behind Alonso whose gearbox he would be intimately familiar with by the end of the race. Raikkonen, who had been in front of Alonso, cleared the way as Hamilton’s tyres came on by pitting. He emerged in 9th and was immediately set upon by Vettel, who was trying to atone for his earlier error whilst defending against Hamilton. Though he looked to have the edge, after a bit of a dice it was Kimi coming out ahead, starting to show a little of the form that has been sadly missing this season.
Rosberg was making the most if his tyres in the meanwhile and as Hamilton managed the gap to Alonso Rosberg clawed to DRS range on his teammate, and that’s where the fun truly began as Mercedes ordered Hamilton to let Rosberg by as he would be making an extra stop, Rosberg having made clear that it was Mercedes, and not he who made the request.
Hamilton, appearing to be in no particular hurry to respond and apparently not entirely convinced he would make the end without another stop himself, demanding clarification about tyre life from Bonnington, his race engineer. Displaying a race intelligence many thought he lacked, Hamilton rightly divined that letting Rosberg past would guarantee Nico finishing ahead of him. AS Mercedes continued to gently chivvy him, Hamilton continued to hold his ground, willing to let Nico go but not willing to slow his own pace to make it happen. AS for Rosberg, he continued to drift in and out of DRS for the next 8 laps, never once closing up on Lewis and forcing the issue. According to post race Sky analysis, Rosberg would have finished 2nd and Hamilton 4th if Lewis had pulled over, but the larger question of why Hamilton was kept on the slower strategy once he passed his teammate is one that Mercedes should be looking at over the break.
AS the Mercedes melodrama continued, Ricciardo’s tyres breathed their last and he came through the pits on lap 54 to be reshod. Ricciardo wasted no time coming after Lewis and in response Lewis upped his pace and began to reel in Alonso at a rate that guaranteed all three of them coming together at the same time. Rosberg played his final card for a used pair of softs lap 57 and the die was cast for a remarkable finale.
In short order Rosberg picked up two places as he took first Raikkonen and then one lap later Massa for 4th. He set about chasing down the leading trio just as all three came into DRS on lap 61. Hamilton and Alonso beginning to struggle on their old tyres and Ricciardo’s claim of possible victory looked more and more likely with each passing lap as Rosberg was approaching at almost 2 seconds a lap.
Hamilton, unable to get to grips with Alonso on the softs, was told by his engineer to use revs not torques. Alonso under pressure went wide on turn one and then utterly missed the chicane. Acknowledging his error, he drifted back rather than pressing home the advantage thus avoiding the scrutiny of the stewards. Rosberg clearly had the pace and Ricciardo, looking to do the deed got past Hamilton but went wide on the exit giving Lewis another chance. But the end couldn’t come soon enough as he began locking up turn after turn as the mediums had been flogged down to the canvas at that point.
Alternately defending from Daniel and attacking Alonso, Hamilton eventually couldn’t maintain his position as the poorer characteristic s of the Mediums made themselves apparent on lap 68. Alonso locked it up getting round a backmarker, and in reaction so did Hamilton. Ricciardo finally drove home the advantage and in rapid succession passed both drivers to race off for the checkers. An increasingly desperate Hamilton, sensing his vulnerability to Rosberg was once again told to use revs instead of torques as the Mercedes driver was just unable to get past the wily Alonso with no tyres left.
Lap 69 finally saw the eagerly awaited showdown between the nonplussed Rosberg and Hamilton, but it was for 3rd rather than 1st. Entering the DRS zone for the last time Hamilton made a mistake exiting turn one. Rosberg closed up down the inside but Lewis fought back, effectively taking Rosberg to the edge of the track as he wound up on the outside after having started his pass on the inside. It was a brutally effective shutting of the door, but in replay it was clear that Hamilton had left room for Rosberg and had not put him 4 wheels off. From there it was white knuckle ride for Hamilton but one that saw him cross the line ahead of his teammate and having taken a further 3 points out of Rosberg’s WDC lead. Alonso lifted the hearts of tifosi by cruising across in 2nd and no one would begrudge Ricciardo’s primal howl of joy as he took his second win of the year, his smile illuminating his helmet from the inside.
The best race of the season by far, today’s result should be a concern for the Brackley squad as creeping unreliability is beginning to eat into their unerring dominance. More importantly, their artificial equalization of strategy might be causing them more trouble than it’s saving them, as switching Lewis to an extra stop and covering Ricciardo would have left them dicing for the win rather than 2nd or 3rd. Conversely both Ferrari and Red Bull have to be heartened as the relentless pace of development begins to open opportunities for them. Lastly, today’s race makes an utter mockery of the need to “spice up the show” and hopefully it will put paid to the effort to rehabilitate Briatore once and for all.
|1||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||1:29.140||1:53:05.058||3|
|7||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||1:30.049||40.700||2|
|9||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso||1:30.597||58.100||2|
|14||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||1:33.478||1 lap||2|
|15||Jules Bianchi||Marussia||1:32.125||1 lap||3|
|16||Max Chilton||Marussia||1:31.933||1 lap||2|
|R||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India||RETIRED||15 laps||1|
|R||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber||RETIRED||33 laps||2|
|R||Sergio Perez||Force India||RETIRED||23 laps||1|
|R||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham||RETIRED||25 laps||1|
|R||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham||RETIRED||8 laps||0|
|R||Romain Grosjean||Lotus||RETIRED||11 laps||1|
Drivers World Championship
Constructors World Championship