Rate the Race and Driver of the Weekend – Round 12,
Hungaroring, Budapest, Hungary, 2018.
Mean Reader Score: 5.92 Rated 7/12 races so far this year.
This score is relatively poor for this season, being in the lower half of the rankings, but it is much better than the 4.70 from last year and the 4.36 from the year before.
It’s a pity that overtaking is so difficult here (excluding the front runners overtaking the back-markers), as it’s said the overtaking car needs to be 1.5s per lap quicker than the overtakee.
So this leaves us with strategy/pitstops as the most likely points for any changes in the outcome of the race post lap 2. With the championship leaders both having been at the top of the rankings three times each, most of the drivers have learned it’s better to play safe into turn 1 and gain SOME points out of the race rather than crash out and get zero.
And guess what? That’s pretty much what happened.
The front runners all kept their noses clean, with Vercrashen taking the merest clip out of Sainz as he passed him by on the first lap. Lower down there were a couple of incidents, but nothing drastic or race-threatening.
That came later, as a very slow pitstop for Vettel (4.5s stationary) meant he came out of the pits BEHIND Bottas after his one and only pitstop. With Bottas being an excellent defensive driver, and this being Hungary, Vettel had to wait 13 or so laps before getting involved in a racing incident with Bottas and taking P2.
By this time Hamilton has whizzed off into the distance to take an easy win, leaving a beleaguered team mate to do the hard work for him and take a 10 second time penalty and get two points on his licence for a second coming together (this time with Ricciardo) and finishing in P5.
Driver of the weekend: Daniel Ricciardo , 24.07% of reader vote.
A bit like Budapest itself, there’s more to Hungaroring than race day.
This year the weather played possibly the most important part in any qualifying session this year. Budapest is usually HOT (very hot) but his year there was a 40% chance of rain during qualifying. After a bit of a downpour, the track was drying out just before the start of the qualifying session, but more rain was forecast any minute.
The top three teams all set out on inters but the smaller teams hung back a bit and went out on ultrasofts, meaning that for quite a lot of P1 some of the top runners were facing the prospect of not making it through to Q2. One such top runner was our Driver of the Weekend himself.
By the skin of his teeth he squeezed into Q2 and then, for some reason probably best known to Red Bull, came out into Q2 on soft tyres: this time he wasn’t so lucky he was knocked out, qualifying in P12.
Q3 was full wets all round but race day was dry so the field had their choice of tyres. Starting from P12, Ricciardo cut a swathe through the backmarkers like a hot knife through butter. He had a dodgy start (collision with Grosjean) and an even dodgier finish (big tangle with Bottas), but that didn’t stop him taking P4, and, of course, out illustrious Driver of the Weekend accolade…..well done Daniel!!