Many have mocked the “Mickey Mouse” Hungaroring for being a tight, twisty track that provides few overtaking opportunities and dull races. This year they were proved completely wrong and we were treated to a race that had it all, with plenty of action and an unexpected result. Question is though… was it the most exciting Hungarian Grand Prix of recent years?
2013 – TJ13 reader score – 7.64
It was certainly more exciting than the race in 2013, when Lewis Hamilton led away from pole position and won his first race for Mercedes. After a very scrappy first lap with a collision between Rosberg and Massa the race settled into a rhythm.
There was some on-track action as Jenson Button was mugged for three places in the space of a few corners as he battled for second position with Vettel, Grosjean and Alonso. Later in the race Grosjean pulled a very brave overtake around the outside of Massa at the fast blind apex of of turn 4, but was deemed to have strayed just over the white line and was given a penalty.
2014 – TJ13 reader score – 9.11
The 2014 edition of the Hungarian Grand Prix is one of the most highly rated races in TJ13 polling history. The race started in tretcherous damp conditions with the cars kicking up spray into the first corner. Rosberg led away from the grid and many thought the race was a foregone conclusion from there.
Lewis had started from the pitlane (after a qualifying engine fire) and on cold tyres spun off on the first lap all by himself. All looked lost for the Briton and he was set to lose further ground in the championship race.
Ericson was one of the first to try to switch to slick tyres, but the gamble backfired very quickly as he slipped on the damp track and slammed his Caterham heavily into the wall, bringing out the safetycar. The leaders came into the pits and emerged in the middle order, which injected the life back into the race. Some cars were on slicks, some on intermediates. Those on dry tyres had trouble warming them up with the low track temperature, but soon were pushing hard. That was right up until Perez overcooked the exit of the final corner and hit the pitwall, bringing the safetycar out again. It is safe to say that Hungary is not one of Perez’s favourite circuits.
As the race shook out once again, Hamilton managed to pull off the move that Grosjean was penalised for a year earlier, around the outside of Jean-Eric Vergne into turn four. Rosberg came up behind him and Lewis was ordered to concede track position (Nico had just pitted and emerged behind the Briton) to allow their different strategies to play out. Hamilton refused saying “I’m not slowing down for Nico. If he gets close enough to overtake, he can overtake me.” This set him in good stead and he remarkably finished on the podium ahead of Nico. This defiance may well have set the tone for what was to come at Spa…
It was the second victory of the season for Daniel Ricciardo in a very exciting finish to the race as he overtook Alonso and Hamilton in spectacular fashion to take the victory only two laps from the end.
2015 – TJ13 reader score – 8.92
This year’s race was just what was needed after the sad passing of Jules Bianchi. There were plenty of overtaking moves, penalties and as many twists to the plot as there are on the circuit.
The first start was aborted after Felipe Massa stopped short of his grid position (see the right of the above picture, a mistake likely brought on by the emotion of the pre-race tribute to Bianchi). Once the grid formed up again, the two Mercedes cars bogged down off the line (again) and found themselves four abreast into the first corner, emerging third and fourth behind the Ferraris. Hamilton, clearly frustrated at being behind his team-mate, almost immediately tried to make amends, which went horribly wrong and sent him skipping across the gravel and tumbling down the order.
The race will be remembered for the amount of work made for the stewards. Grosjean, Hamilton, Kvyat, Verstappen and Raikkonen earned themselves the wrath of the officials, but Pastor Maldonado once again excelled himself with a hat-trick of penalties, first for his role in the contact with Perez, the second for speeding in the pit lane (whilst serving his first penalty!) and finally for overtaking behind the safety car.
The two Ferrari cars looked very strong at the front and both pulled away from Rosberg, who could not match their impressive pace. Raikkonen was looking good to cement a Ferrari 1-2, but his race unfortunately crumbled, first the front mounted camera fell off the car and then he lost the use of his MGU-K hybrid system.
The race came alive again once the safety car was deployed after the very dramatic failure of Nico Hulkenberg’s front wing that rendered him a passenger on the way to the barriers. The field bunched up behind the leader and set up a thrilling conclusion. Rosberg passed the handicapped Raikkonen, and Hamilton tried to fend off Ricciardo but he slid into the side of the Red Bull, once again demoting Lewis down the order and earning him a penalty to really stick the boot into his torrid race.
Rosberg and Ricciardo then set off in pursuit of Vettel, who had opened up a small gap as is his trademark after a safety car period. Once in the dirty air Rosberg failed to make an instant impression on the Ferrari ahead and Daniel saw his chance. Knowing he could not match the Mercedes straight line speed, he knew the only move that would stick would be a lunge into turn one. Unfortunately he misjudged his braking by a matter of a meter and slid past the apex. Rosberg switched back and sliced back past the Red Bull, but decided to squeeze him on the exit to teach him some manners. This was a big mistake as Ricciardo’s front wing sliced into Rosberg’s rear tyre, causing him a puncture. He lost so much time limping back to the pits that when he rejoined, he was once again behind his recovering teammate, losing the opportunity to take the championship lead.
TJ13 Driver of the weekend – Sebastian Vettel (38%)
Sebastian Vettel earned the honour of your driver of the weekend this time, bascially by being the only person on the whole grid to not get into any trouble. Vettel took up his customary third position on the grid, then made a fantastically agressive start to box out Hamilton and leapfrog the Mercedes duo into the first corner. He was able to keep rear-gunner Kimi at bay through the first part of the race. He was under a lot of pressure towards the end from Rosberg and Ricciardo, it is a shame that the battle that was brewing was neutralised when the two, somewhat clumsily, took each other out of the running.
Max Verstappen came second in our poll (with 16% of the vote) after finishing a career best fourth position. This was despite running behind his teammate Sainz for most of the race and then clipping Bottas following the restart and causing him a puncture.
Ricciardo came in a very close third (14%) and might have given Vettel a run for his money if he hadn’t been involved in the two seperate incidents with Lewis and Nico. His confidence on the brakes and ability to overtake cars with far greater horsepower was mightily impressive. Red Bull were right to order him past Kvyat who was struggling to make an impression on the cars ahead. The Russian did not impress you in our poll despite coming in second as the general feeling was that he was out-classed by Ricciardo, but benefited from the misfortune of the others ahead.
We now head into the summer break, with four weeks before the next race at Spa. Let’s hope that the momentum from the exciting races at Silverstone and Hungary survives intact and delivers another classic.