It wasn’t the most exciting of races we’ve seen this year, but the Hungarian Grand Prix certainly gave us some big talking points going into the summer break. The pendulum swung back and forth slightly between Ferrari and Mercedes (mostly Lewis Hamilton) on Sunday in Budapest, but Vettel and Raikkonen had enough in the tank to keep Mercedes at bay. Read on to see my assessment of some of the biggest winners and losers from the Hungarian Grand Prix.
A front row lockout in qualifying and a one-two finish in the race was the perfect way for Ferrari to bounce back after a difficult British Grand Prix. In truth, Mercedes had been the form team since the Monaco Grand Prix back in May, but on a track with some similar characteristics to Monaco, Ferrari gave us all a timely reminder that this championship still has a lot of fight left in it.
From a seemingly routine start, Vettel and Raikkonen gave us all the signs that this would be a stroll to the checkered flag for the Scuderia until Vettel’s steering problems became great enough to allow Hamilton to start reeling the two Ferrari’s in. Had Hamilton passed Raikkonen and Vettel during the middle third of the race I think there would have been plenty of post-race chat about Ferrari’s tactics and the team favouring Vettel over Raikkonen, but the four-time champion held on (just) to extend his lead in the championship to 14 points.
I think Kimi Raikkonen was exceptionally unlucky not to win the race today, but that just shows how important qualifying is on Saturday. Had Raikkonen started the race on pole, we all would have been celebrating the Finn’s first win since Australia 2013, but failure to beat his teammate on Saturday more than likely cost him the race win on Sunday.
A double points finish and a fasted lap for Fernando Alonso ensured Hungary was McLaren’s best weekend of the year so far on a track where they needed to score points. It was refreshing to see both McLaren’s make it into Q3 on Saturday afternoon, and even more refreshing to see them both finish and take points on Sunday. To be honest, where McLaren finished the race today was where I expected them to be at every track this season, but I fear that the next two races at Spa and Monza will see Alonso and Vandoorne drop back into the clutches of the teams with more powerful engines.
Nevertheless, it was a rare weekend of celebration for McLaren, and some fantastic spirit shown by Alonso during the podium ceremony to sit by his mural of him in a deckchair! Those nine vital points scored in Hungary this weekend could prove critical come the end of the season in the battle to stay off the bottom of the constructors table with Sauber.
How differently this race could have turned out had Mercedes had team radio for the whole duration of the race. Once allowed past Bottas by the pit wall, Hamilton set about closing down the two Ferrari’s at an incredible rate until he got stuck in the dirty air of Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen acted as a buffer between Hamilton and Vettel, but I think had Raikkonen passed Vettel in the middle stages of the race, Hamilton would have followed suit. Of course, with it being so difficult to overtake at the Hungaroring Hamilton had his work cut out from the moment he qualified fourth on Saturday afternoon, but a solid drive on Sunday and the last lap relinquishing of his podium place (quite rightly) back to Bottas ensured that Hamilton came out of this weekend with a few more points added to his reputation.
Red Bull Racing
More specifically Daniel Ricciardo, but Red Bull were perhaps the biggest losers this weekend. Verstappen’s first lap collision with his teammate ensured that what could have been a grandstand battle between three different teams for the win ended in an exhibition drive for Verstappen after he received his penalty. Without the 10 second stop and go I think Verstappen and Red Bull would have been right in the mix for the win this weekend, and given how well Ricciardo has gone here in the past, I think the Aussie would have been too.
Ricciardo was understandably angry at his teammate in the media pen following his retirement but with Verstappen’s public apology this evening I’m sure by the time we get to Belgium in a month’s time the two will have repaired their relationship. It was a silly error from Verstappen, but he’s young enough to learn from it, and Ricciardo is mature enough to move on from it. That being said, Hungary was a fantastic opportunity for Red Bull to score big points, and possibly trophies and they failed to do either.
Hulkenberg had a scrappy Sunday afternoon in Budapest which culminated in a retirement on lap 67, three laps from the end. From what was a very promising qualifying where Hulkenberg’s Renault looked to have real pace, a grid penalty and then some midfield clashes with Kevin Magnussen during the race ensured that Hulkenberg would leave the weekend empty handed. The incredible job the German is doing was made evident for all to see when he moved past Palmer early on the in race and then proceeded to build a very healthy gap very quickly, but with two big power circuits coming up (Spa and Monza) it may not be until Singapore until we see Hulkenberg in and around the top 7 on pace alone once more.
Race Result (from motorsport.com)
|5||33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||TAG||70||1:39’59.989||13.276||0.391||183.978||1||10|
|7||55||Carlos Sainz Jr.||Toro Rosso||Renault||69||1:39’56.379||1 lap||1 lap||181.458||1||6|
|8||11||Sergio Perez||Force India||Mercedes||69||1:39’57.415||1 lap||1.036||181.427||1||4|
|9||31||Esteban Ocon||Force India||Mercedes||69||1:40’06.145||1 lap||8.730||181.163||1||2|
|10||2||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren||Honda||69||1:40’06.740||1 lap||0.595||181.145||1||1|
|11||26||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso||Renault||69||1:40’14.446||1 lap||7.706||180.913||1|
|12||30||Jolyon Palmer||Renault||Renault||69||1:40’14.925||1 lap||0.479||180.899||1|
|13||20||Kevin Magnussen||Haas||Ferrari||69||1:40’18.195||1 lap||3.270||180.801||1|
|14||18||Lance Stroll||Williams||Mercedes||69||1:40’38.709||1 lap||20.514||180.186||1|
|15||94||Pascal Wehrlein||Sauber||Ferrari||68||1:40’11.875||2 laps||1 lap||178.367||2|
|16||9||Marcus Ericsson||Sauber||Ferrari||68||1:40’29.343||2 laps||17.468||177.851||2|
|17||dnf||27||Nico Hulkenberg||Renault||Renault||67||1:37’46.787||3 laps||1 lap||180.090||2||Retirement|
|dnf||40||Paul di Resta||Williams||Mercedes||60||1:28’58.199||10 laps||7 laps||177.241||2||Retirement|
|dnf||8||Romain Grosjean||Haas||Ferrari||20||31’58.359||50 laps||40 laps||164.352||1||Wheel nut|
|dnf||3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull||TAG||0||Collision|