Hamilton capitalises on Ferrari frustration to win Hungarian F1 GP
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes took full advantage of their surprise qualifying performance to take victory at the Hungaroring, a prospect which seeme...
Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes took full advantage of their surprise qualifying performance to take victory at the Hungaroring, a prospect which seemed unlikely after Friday's running.
A frustrating weekend for Ferrari continued into the race, where small time losses - through slow pit stops and lapped traffic - cost them the chance to challenge for victory.
With the Ferraris spending the second half of the race behind the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, Hamilton was unchallenged as he marched to a sixth Hungarian Grand Prix win ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel - who survived a late-race collision with Bottas - to extend his championship lead to 24 points.
Vettel, one of the favourites this weekend, was left to rue a slow pit stop which prevented him from passing Bottas over the pit stop phase.
"It was a tough race, we were a little bit out of position for the speed that we had. We could've gone with Lewis today in terms of race pace," said Vettel.
"I had a good start, which was surprising with the harder tyre, I was in third.
"It was a bit tricky knowing when to come in, and then obviously we had a little bit of an issue with the pit stop and came out behind Valtteri and then I realised right away that I couldn't get him as his tyres were still too fresh, so I was sitting back and waiting and trying to line-up everything for the last ten laps.
"It worked. His tyres were getting worse and worse, and I knew how long those tyres would last because I had them on the first stint, and I was quite confident I could get him at the end.
"Obviously P2 is not what we really wanted this weekend, but I think it was the maximum we could get today."
Kimi Raikkonen completed a double-podium finish for Ferrari after attempting a two-stop strategy in a bid to disrupt Mercedes' race.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo fought valiantly through the field to take fourth place after passing Bottas - who was running with collision damage - on the final lap of the race.
Pierre Gasly gave Toro Rosso a strong sixth place ahead of Haas' Kevin Magussen and McLaren's Fernando Alonso.
With third-placed Kimi Raikkonen starting on ultrasofts and fourth-placed Sebastian Vettel starting on softs, Ferrari were splitting their strategies in order to give themselves the best chance of passing one or both of the Mercedes cars.
Raikkonen - who hasn't made up a place on the opening lap of a Grand Prix since 2016 - failed to get in between the Mercedes at the start, with Hamilton making a strong getaway ahead Bottas, who fended off the two Ferraris.
Despite starting on the harder tyres, Vettel avoided losing any places and managed to sweep around the outside of Raikkonen at turn two for third place.
Just behind, Verstappen passed Toro Rosso's Pierre Gasly and Renault's Carlos Sainz for fifth place, bringing himself back into contention with the front-runners.
Further back, Ricciardo tangled with Sauber's Marcus Ericsson to lose places at the start, whilst Force India's Sergio Perez and the other Sauber of Charles Leclerc also made contact, with the Monegasque driver retiring on the opening lap.
Any thoughts of Red Bull entering the battle for the podium were hampered by a power-related issue for Max Verstappen, who retired on lap six, bringing out a brief virtual safety car.
With their attentions now completely on Ricciardo, the Australian started to progress through the midfielders, passing the likes of Stoffel Vandoorne, Romain Grosjean, Fernando Alonso, Nico Hulkenberg, Brendon Hartley and Carlos Sainz, predominantly at the major passing place on the circuit, turn one.
Attempting to disrupt Mercedes' race, Ferrari brought Raikkonen in for his first pit stop for soft tyres, but a slower-than-normal turnaround meant that Bottas was able to stay ahead of the Ferrari when he reacted one lap later and pitted for softs.
This released Vettel, who was visibly pushing in order to reduce the gap to Hamilton, which remained at around seven seconds.
Hamilton pitted for soft tyres at the end of lap 25, releasing Vettel into the lead, and rejoined with a couple of seconds to spare over team-mate Bottas.
With Vettel continuing with the soft tyres, his temporary lead to Hamilton was whittled down slightly from around thirteen to nine seconds, with the Ferrari not aided by a string of back-markers.
When Vettel eventually made his pit stop for ultrasoft tyres at the end of lap 39, Ferrari looked to have enough in hand to leapfrog the second Mercedes of Bottas, but a slow front-left wheel attachment added a couple of seconds to his pit stop time, and he rejoined in third behind Bottas, much to the agony of the Ferrari team.
Vettel was on the offensive straight away, but was immediately looking to cool the car by moving out of the slipstream of the Mercedes, and he was unable to make any attempt on Bottas.
Further back, Ricciardo was now up to fifth place and was the last man to pit, switching to ultrasofts on lap 44 and staying in the place ahead of Red Bull junior driver Gasly.
Both McLaren's were having a much better race compared to their recent form; Alonso and Vandoorne stayed out for longer than most runners, and they reaped the rewards when many of the midfielders pitted early and were held up by slower cars.
Vandoorne in particular was having a much better race, running in ninth place and right behind Alonso, but the Belgian suffered a cruel car failure and was out of the race, triggering a virtual safety car.
None of the front-runners elected to pit for fresh tyres under the VSC, and the race was resumed just one lap later.
Vettel struggled to get close to Bottas, and was forced to wait for the Finn's tyres to degrade, which he had been using since lap fifteen. Such was the hold-up from Bottas, Raikkonen - who had made an extra stop - was able to catch back up and challenge for a podium place.
With Vettel's first proper attempt on Bottas coming with just five laps to go, the Mercedes took to the inside line to defend, only for the Ferrari to undercut him and out-drive him towards turn two.
Vettel edged ahead by almost a car length, and went to take the normal racing line into turn two, but Bottas kept his car on the inside of Vettel's and the two touched.
The Mercedes continued with a damaged front wing and dropped to fourth, whilst the Ferrari escaped damage-free.
With reduced performance from the car, Bottas fell into the clutches of Ricciardo, who was forced to attack around the outside of turn one. However, Bottas understeered into the Red Bull and inflicted further damage on both cars.
Bruised but not beaten, Ricciardo fought back, and made an undercut manoeuvre stick on the run towards turn two on the final lap of the race.
Further ahead, Hamilton had been able to extend his margin to seventeen seconds and took the chequered flag for his sixth Hungarian Grand Prix victory.
A second and third place for Vettel and Raikkonen will be seen as a decent recovery, but Ferrari will be left to rue the pit stop errors which prevented them from making further progress.
Ricciardo took fourth ahead of Bottas, whilst Gasly sealed a fine sixth place for Toro Rosso, and he was the only other driver to finish on the lead lap.
Haas' Kevin Magnussen took seventh ahead of Alonso, Sainz and team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Following Bottas' incident with Ricciardo, the Finn was handed a ten-second time penalty by the stewards after the race. He didn't lose any places as a result, but the punishment serves to set a precedent for future penalty-worthy incidents.
HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX, Race
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes - 70 Laps
2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 17.123s
3 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 20.101s
4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault 46.419s
5 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:00.000s
6 Pierre Gasly Toro Rosso/Honda 73.273s
7 Kevin Magnussen Haas/Ferrari 1 Lap
8 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Renault 1 Lap
9 Carlos Sainz Renault 1 Lap
10 Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari 1 Lap
11 Brendon Hartley Toro Rosso/Honda 1 Lap
12 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1 Lap
13 Esteban Ocon Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
14 Sergio Perez Force India/Mercedes 1 Lap
15 Marcus Ericsson Sauber/Ferrari 2 Laps
16 Sergey Sirotkin Williams/Mercedes 2 Laps
17 Lance Stroll Williams/Mercedes 2 Laps
18 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren/Renault DNF
19 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault DNF
20 Charles Leclerc Sauber/Ferrari DNF
By: Luke Murphy
All images: Motorsport ImagesWho was your driver of the day in Budapest? Leave your comments in the section below.
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