Sebastian Vettel wins a tense victory at the Hungarian GP

31 July 2017

At the Hungaroring circuit on Sunday, Sebastian Vettel won his first victory since May at a very edgy Hungarian GP ahead of his team mate Kimi Raikkonen and Valtteri Bottas in a race that Lewis Hamilton put in a late charge for the victory and was also shadowed by team orders by both teams that could impact the championship towards the end of the season.

Pole Sitter Sebastian Vettel made a strong start from pole position as his team mate Kimi Raikkonen dutifully filtered into second place to maintain Ferrari’s hold on the top two positions into Turn 1.

One row back from the Ferraris, both Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton came under attack from the Red Bull pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen and the Red Bulls both found a way past Hamilton into the first corner. Ricciardo was fourth as he exited Turn 1 but he had the outside line into Turn 2 while his teammate attacked on the inside.

Unable to slow his car in time for the apex, Verstappen locked up and ploughed into the side of Ricciardo, leading the Australian to later label his teammate after the race as an “amateur”. But Ricciardo limped round Turn 3 but as he got on the power on the run to Turn 4, engine coolant sprayed from his punctured sidepod and he spun directly in front of the chasing pack.

Extraordinarily, all 15 cars managed to find a way past the Ricciardo without smashing into it but the incident immediately prompted a safety car, putting a halt to the racing for six laps. Ricciardo came on the radio to say “If that’s who I think it was…” before an expletive-laden follow up when his engineer confirmed the identity of Verstappen.

When racing resumed on Lap six, Vettel appeared to be in full control and quickly built a three-second buffer to Raikkonen in second. At this stage of the race, Bottas was unable to match the pace of the Ferraris but pulled away from an emerging battle between Verstappen in fourth and Hamilton in fifth.

It looked as though Hamilton would have to make a pass on the track but when the stewards issued Verstappen with a ten-second time penalty for his collision with Ricciardo, Hamilton then backed off the pace safe in the knowledge that he would get an opportunity to leap frog the Dutchman in the pit stops.

The first signs of Vettel’s having a problem in his car started to emerge around Lap 25 when he notified the team of his off-centre steering over the radio and his pace dropped. Vettel was told to avoid the kerbs so as not to damage the car further and Raikkonen put the pressure on him as he wanted the opportunity to capitalise on this.

The Mercedes team then pulled its drivers into the pits on Lap 30 and 31, upping the pressure on Ferrari, before Vettel pitted from the lead on Lap 32. Raikkonen (who had been nursing his tyres) felt he had a shot at an overcut, but was only given one lap to try to make the difference to Vettel before Ferrari pitted him on Lap 33.

Raikkonen emerged directly behind his teammate as he exited the pits and immediately radioed the team saying “I had the speed to stay out”. It was the first of a series of angry radio messages from Raikkonen as Mercedes started to take advantage of Vettel’s slow pace and close in on Raikkonen.

Less than five seconds covered Vettel, Raikkonen, Bottas and Hamilton on Lap 40, and Raikkonen felt as though he had been dropped in the middle of an unnecessarily tight fight. “You’ve put me under massive pressure from Mercedes for no reason,” he said, not knowing that his second place was about to come under even greater threat in the next few laps.

At this stage of the race , Hamilton was also becoming frustrated and after 40 laps of radio silence due to a technical issue, a connection between car 44 and the pit wall was finally re-established. “I’ve got a lot of pace, let me use this,” Hamilton told his race engineer on lap 44 and two laps later Bottas moved aside at Turn 1 to let Hamilton through.

The swap was made on the understanding that the positions would be reversed if Hamilton failed to pass Raikkonen and Bottas quickly dropped off the pace once Hamilton was ahead.

This made Raikkonen even more irate and he radioed again to say “I had the speed [to get ahead of Vettel], this shouldn’t be happening”. Although Hamilton quickly closed to within 1.5s of Raikkonen, he struggled to get within 1.0s and benefit from the DRS overtaking device.

Mercedes extended the length of the swap from five laps to ten, but still Hamilton could not pass and on the final lap he started to slow in order to return the favour to his teammate. By that time Verstappen had closed to within a second of Bottas, but Hamilton played the situation perfectly, allowing Bottas to slip up the inside at the final corner and take the position.

But it was Sebastian Vettel who claimed victory at the Hungarian GP and extended his lead ahead of over Hamilton in the drivers’ standings to 14 points as F1 heads into the summer break. Vettel finished ahead of his team mate Kimi Raikkonen in second place who was 0.908 seconds behind him and ahead of Valtteri Bottas in third place who was 12.462 seconds behind Vettel.

Lewis Hamilton finished the race in fourth place ahead of Max Verstappen in fifth place, Fernando Alonso in a brilliant sixth place, Carlos Sainz Jr in seventh place, Sergio Perez in eighth place, Esteban Ocon in ninth place and Stoffel Vandoorne who rounded off the top ten finishers.

Daniil Kvyat finished the race in eleventh place ahead of Jolyon Palmer in twelfth place, Kevin Magnussen in thirteenth place, Lance Stroll in fourteenth place and Pascal Wehrlein in fifteenth place.

As we head into the latter stages of the grid, Marcus Ericsson ended the race in sixteenth place. Nico Hulkenberg, Paul Di Resta, Romain Grosjean, Daniel Ricciardo did not finish the race.

The classification of the Hungarian GP is as follows:-

1.Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1.39:46.713s
2.Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 0.908s
3.Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 12.462s
4.Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 12.885s
5.Max Verstappen, Red-Bull-TAG Heuer, 13.276s
6.Fernando Alonso, McLaren-Honda, 1.11.223s
7.Carlos Sainz Jr, Toro Rosso, 1 lap
8.Sergio Perez, Force India-Mercedes, 1 lap
9.Esteban Ocon, Force India-Mercedes, 1 lap
10.Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren-Honda, 1 lap
11.Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso, 1 lap
12.Jolyon Palmer, Renault, 1 lap
13.Kevin Magnussen, Haas Ferrari, 1 lap
14.Lance Stroll, Williams-Mercedes, 1 lap
15.Pascal Wehrlein, Sauber-Ferrari, 2 laps
16.Marcus Ericsson, Sauber-Ferrari, 2 laps
17.Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Not Classified
18.Paul Di Resta, Williams-Mercedes, Not Classified
19.Romain Grosjean, Haas Ferrari, Not Classified
20.Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull-TAG Heuer, Not Classified

Sebastian Vettel leads the 2017 Formula One Drivers Championship with 202 points, Lewis Hamilton is in second place with 188 points, Valtteri Bottas is third with 169 points, Daniel Ricciardo is fourth with 117 points, Kimi Raikkonen is fifth with 116 points, Max Verstappen is sixth with 67 points, Sergio Perez is seventh with 56 points, Esteban Ocon is eighth with 45 points, Carlos Sainz Jr is ninth with 35 points, Nico Hulkenberg is tenth with 26 points, Felipe Massa is eleventh with 23 points, Lance Stroll is twelfth with 18 points, Romain Grosjean is thirteenth with 18 points, Kevin Magnussen is fourteenth with 11 points, Fernando Alonso is fifteenth with 10 points, Pascal Wehrlein is sixteenth with 5 points, Daniil Kvyat is seventeenth with 4 points and Stoffel Vandoorne is eighteenth with 1 point.

Mercedes leads the Constructors Championship with 357 points, Ferrari are second with 318 points, Red Bull is third with 184 points, Force India are fourth with 101 points, Williams are fifth with 41 points, Toro Rosso are sixth with 39 points, Haas are seventh with 29 points, Renault are eighth with 26 points, McLaren are eighth with 11 points and Sauber are tenth with 5 points.

Sarah Jones- @jonesy_laaa