Daniel Ricciardo took his second career win (and second of the season) in Sunday’s sensational Hungarian Grand Prix. The Aussie finished ahead of Fernando Alonso who led for most of the race, and hard-charging Lewis Hamilton who managed to go from the pitlane to the podium. The race started in wet conditions, and though no more rain fell, the damp track caught out several drivers throughout.
The previous race was just one week prior, and saw a home win for Nico Rosberg in Hockenheim. It stretched his championship lead to 14 points over Silver Arrows chum Lewis Hamilton.
To read more on the superb event in Hockenheim, click here!
Q1 was a dramatic event which included the knocking-out of two bespoke World Champions in the form of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen. The Finn was caught napping by a faster-than expected Jules Bianchi, something for which the Iceman blamed his team. However, Hamilton’s demise was far more dramatic, the Brit suffering an oil leak that set light to his W05 in dramatic fashion. His ruined Mercedes sat on the entry to the pit lane and caused a yellow flag for most of the session.
Q3 was also treacherous; Kevin Magnussen crashing heavily at turn 1. The young Dane, like the rest of the drivers, had fitted dry tyres for the first time that afternoon, and was not prepared for the lack of adhesion at the first corner; locked up
Just prior to the start, Daniil Kvyat stalled on the grid and had to start from the pit lane, just ahead of Hamilton. At the start, Bottas pounced on Vettel immediately, seizing third. However, by the time the drivers had reached the top if the hill, the German had got back ahead. Meanwhile, Hamilton was in trouble. The 2008 champion was desperate to make up more ground, but at just the second corner, he spun his Mercedes and gently tagged the wall, damaging his front wing.
Miraculously, Hamilton bounced back from this excursion, and by lap 8 had reached the dizzying heights of 13th position, when he squeezed past Kimi Raikkonen who shared in a miserable qualifying.
His progress was fortunately-timed as well – a hefty crash for Marcus Ericsson wiped out the gap to the cars ahead, neutralising the field. Everyone was still on intermediate tyres, but bizarrely, the top 4 (Rosberg, Bottas, Vettel and Alonso) did not pit for dry tyres, and neither did Kevin Magnussen. Everyone else pitted at the first opportunity, leaving Ricciardo in control of the field, followed by Button, who was the only driver to pit for more intermediate tyres. The Safety Car was just about to come in, when Romain Grosjean spun at the exact same piece of tarmac as Ericsson, although the Lotus driver crashed in to the opposite side of the track.
After the extended Safety Car period the race got going again. Button quickly demonstrated that the track was still damp, using his Intermediates to cruise past Ricciardo for the lead. However, just two laps later, the dry tyres had replaced the Inters as the superior tyre, and Button was forced to pit, dropping him way out of contention.
One of the best performances of the race involved Jean-Eric Vergne who had used the Safety Car period to get up to fifth position. As the race resumed, he caught Rosberg napping at turn 1 and got up to 4th. This loss of momentum for Rosberg caused Alonso to get past as well, leaving just Vettel between himself and Hamilton.
Button had to concede that his tyres were not the right choice, a fact made apparent by Ricciardo swarming all over the back of him; the Aussie took the lead again when Button pitted on lap 15.
Sergio Perez caused the second Safety Car appearance of the race on Lap 23, when he put the power down far too early coming out of the final corner. Spinning tyres on damp kerbing is never a good cocktail, and it was one that sent him sprawling in to the out wall. So great was his impact that it removed a chunk of concrete from the wall, but the Force India driver was not hurt. The team certainly was though, as Nico Hulkenberg had retired not long before, giving them a double-retirement.
Some more pit stops made for another unlikely pecking order, with Fernando Alonso leading Jean-Eric Vergne and co at the restart. JEV managed to keep Rosberg at bay for six laps, before the current Championship leader came in for fresh tyres. Meanwhile, Vettel behind nearly copied Perez’ crash, spinning at the final corner, but somehow keeping his car out of the concrete. That released Hamilton in to 3rd, and he set after Vergne. He encountered the Frenchman at the top of the hill going in to turn four, and pulled off a cracking overtake to sweep round the outside of the Toro Rosso and up in to second.
The next round of pit stops left Alonso leading the race from Hamilton and Ricciardo, with Rosberg 23 seconds behind the group. While the cameras focused on the leaders fighting it out, Rosberg sneakily made massive progress on fresh tyres. His advantage was so immense that with three laps remaining he was just 7 seconds shy of Hamilton, who had been brilliantly overtaken by Daniel Ricciardo at turn 3. The two diced coming out of the first corner, and in turn 2, Red Bull’s new hero took the outside line, setting him up for the inside of turn three.
He then set his sights on Alonso, whose tyres were well past their best. On lap 68 of 70, Ricciardo eased past at the first corner and set his own pace. Just behind though, Rosberg was hard charging, ready to attack his team mate. On the very last lap, he tried to get past at the spot where Ricciardo had got the better of Lewis, but the feisty Brit pushed him to the grass, and maintained the final step on the podium.
1) D Ricciardo, Red Bull
2) F Alonso, Ferrari
3) L Hamilton, Mercedes AMG
4) N Rosberg, Mercedes AMG
5) F Massa, Williams
6) K Raikkonen, Ferrari
7) S Vettel, Red Bull
8) V Bottas, Williams
9) JE Vergne, Toro Rosso
10) J Button, McLaren
11) A Sutil, Sauber
12) K Magnussen, McLaren
13) P Maldonado, Lotus
14) D Kvyat, Toro Rosso
15) J Bianchi, Marussia
16) M Chilton, Marussia
E Gutierrez, Sauber (Electrics)
K Kobayashi, Caterham (Fuel System)
S Perez, Force India (Crashed)
N Hulkenberg, Force India (Crashed)
R Grosjean, Lotus (Spun off)
M Ericsson, Caterham (Crashed)
The result puts Hamilton 11 points behind Rosberg, a reduction from 14 points’ deficit going in to the event. Daniel Ricciardo is still third. Ferrari are back in third ahead of Williams in the Constructors’.
The next race will occur after the summer break in four weeks’ time, on August 24th. The race will be held at Spa-Francorchamps Circuit in Belgium, a race that saw a win for Sebastian Vettel in 2013.