Sebastien Vettel took victory in todays Hungarian Grand Prix, after a race which can only be described as a crazy one packed with action from lights out to chequered flag.
This is evidenced through the two men who stood next to him on the podium, both Red Bull drivers Danill Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo. Second-placed driver Kvyat finished 15 seconds behind with a 10 second time penalty, which he incurred for speeding in the pitlane during the late Safety Car period with 20 laps to go.
But before we get to that, lets talk about the start. The race was arguably won for Sebastien Vettel when he took advantage – along with teammate Kimi Raikkonen – of the poor start both Mercedes drivers got on the front row in similar fashion to Williams in Silverstone. It looked like Mansell vs Senna as the pair almost touched going into the first corner, with the Ferrari driver coming out on top and Hamilton getting relegated to fourth.
It was about to get worse for Hamilton though, as he tried to pull off what looked and proved to be an impossible move on his teammate around the outside into turn 6, which put his front left onto the grass under braking and sent him straight off the circuit into the gravel. The two-time world champion lost five positions as he rejoined the track behind Felipe Massa, by which point his drive to victory started to become a recovery drive to the front.
Massa didn’t make it easy for Hamilton, with the Williams driver pulling off his signature defensive move of going wheel-to-wheel and forcing the defensive move on the Mercedes driver. The pair banged wheels, but Hamilton was able to pass and begin his charge.
Meanwhile up front Ricciardo was putting to use the pace he found on the Soft tyres, passing a struggling Valterri Bottas for fourth. Further up front we saw Kimi Raikkonen complain about losing a piece of his front wing, which turned out to be a camera mounting which got rattled off after going over the kerbs too vigorously.
Ferrari readied a new front wing, however it wasn’t necessary in the end as Raikkonen came in for his first stop. Other cars further back also started to pit, including Rosberg who was put on a set of Medium tyres by Mercedes – setting him up for what we believed to be a stint on the Soft tyres at the end. This was also the case for Ricciardo, who emerged just in front of Hamilton who by now was up to fifth place and also pitted for a used set of Softs.
Red Bull could see the purple sectors Hamilton put in on his Soft tyres, which eventually put him within five seconds of last years race winner. Red Bull told Ricciardo to keep Hamilton behind him, since they were on a similar strategy to Rosberg, and whilst that was the case for a couple of laps, Hamilton eventually made use of the ‘overtake’ mode in his superior Mercedes Power Unit and get into fourth place.
In amongst all the action up front, both McLarens managed to get into the points after both Sauber drivers were seemingly struggling with tyre management and the Force India of Perez dropped back after making contact with Maldonado coming out of the pits after his first stop. Maldonado subsequently received a drive-thru penalty, which put him outside of the points.
An unscheduled stop for Alonso after the team noticed a slow puncture meant that he lost time but crucially not his top ten position. He rejoined ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, who a couple of laps later reported a “wrong sound” in his car. The team investigated and informed him that his MGU-K failed, which put him at a significant loss on the straights, with him losing 2 seconds per-sector to Rosberg who was catching on the Medium tyres.
But before he was able to get onto his gearbox, the Virtual Safety Car was deployed after the front wing of Nico Hulkenberg, who was running in seventh place, failed on the start/finish straight and turned itself into carbon fibre confetti, sending the Force India with a significant loss of downforce straight into the barrier at the end of the straight.
This eventually turned into an actual Safety Car period, which prompted a number of drivers to pit for their final stop. Both Mercedes and Ferrari drivers emerged with new sets of Mediums on, which surprised most of us when it looked like Rosberg was on course to switch to the Soft for the final stint. This turned out to be what Ricciardo did, which allowed him to get right onto the back of Hamilton when we restarted.
However as the pair approached turn one side-by-side, Hamilton locked up and went straight into the side of Ricciardo, damaging his front end and putting Ricciardo off the track who rejoined infront of the Mercedes driver who was still trying to defend his position from Bottas, Kvyat, and Verstappen into turn four, which resulted in the melee of cars getting bunched up and the inevitable contact between Verstappen and Bottas going into turn five.
Hamilton received a drive-thru for the contact, which added insult to injury as he began to set into damage limitation mode.
Further up front Ricciardo made his way past Raikkonen who was eventually retired by Ferrari with his continued MGU-K problem, despite them doing the old ‘have you tried switching it off, then back on again’ trick in the pits.
The Red Bull driver looked like he was closing in on Rosberg, getting within DRS range at one point. However the Red Bull lacked straight line speed, which meant any move at his favourite corner (turn one!) had to come from a long way back.
Sure enough he did, but he left it a day late and a dollar short on the brakes, which allowed Rosberg to get the switch back. As he made the manoeuvre to move ahead though, the rear right made contact with Ricciardo’s front wing, causing an instant puncture on Rosberg’s car and significant front wing damage to Ricciardo. The stewards branded the contact as a racing incident, however Rosberg dropped behind Hamilton in the points who made it up to sixth whilst he pitted, whereas Kvyat moved into second place.
At this point all eyes switched to Sebastien Vettel, who amidst all the action behind him kept his cool to take his second win of the season. The Ferrari driver dedicated the win to the late Jules Bianchi, who of course was apart of the Ferrari Young Driver programme and tipped to be a future driver of the famous Maranello-based team.
Max Verstappen crossed the finish line in fourth place in the Toro Rosso, whilst Fernando Alonso making it across in fifth ahead of Hamilton, Grosjean, Rosberg, Button, and Ericsson taking the final points-paying position.