Vettel wins incident-packed Hungarian Grand Prix, dedicates victory to Jules Bianchi
For those who believe in fate, there could have been no more appropriate outcome for a Grand Prix that was honouring Jules Bianchi than for it to p...
For those who believe in fate, there could have been no more appropriate outcome for a Grand Prix that was honouring Jules Bianchi than for it to provide plenty of great racing action and a win for the Ferrari team of which he was an increasingly important part.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel claimed his second win of the season in an incident-packed Hungarian Grand Prix that saw championship leader Lewis Hamilton finish sixth and title rival Nico Rosberg finish eight after both tangled with rivals during the race.
He headed home Daniil Kvyat in a career best second place, Daniel Ricciardo in a season's best third place and Max Verstappen in a career best fourth place.
After crossing the line to claim his 41st career win - equalling Ayrton Senna's career total - and his first at the Hungaroring, Vettel dedicated the victory to Jules Bianchi saying that the French driver would have one day been part of the Ferrari squad.
"Incredible day but this victory is for Jules," he said. "We know that it has been an incredibly tough week and it’s, I think, for all of us very, very difficult, so this one is for him and especially all the people in Ferrari and all the Ferrrari we knew that sooner or later he would have been part of our team, part of this family. Cette victoire c’est pour Jules."
Last year's winner Ricciardo was on swashbuckling form with some sublime overtakes on Nico Hulkenberg and Nico Rosberg in particular. The Australian might have finished ahead of Kvyat but a late collision with Rosberg saw the pair collide, which punctured Rosberg's tyre and meant no Mercedes on the podium for the first time this season.
After an aborted start and an extra formation lap due to Felipe Massa being out of position on the grid, the lights finally went out and for the second race in a row pole position man Hamilton made a poor getaway.
The slow start was immediately seized upon by the fast-starting Ferraris and Vettel went around Hamilton through Turn One to take the lead, while Rosberg snuck past his team-mate. Rosberg was soon dropped to third, however, as Räikkönen hustled past the German in Turn 3.
Hamilton’s woes were compounded when, in hot pursuit of Rosberg, he went off at the chicane, clattering through the gravel before re-joining in tenth place.
Behind the front four Daniel Ricciardo also made a poor start from fourth place on the dirty side of the grid and was passed by Williams’ Valtteri Bottas. Ricciardo dropped to seventh. The second Red Bull of Daniil Kvyat went from seventh on the grid to fifth but he was quickly passed by Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and then, with the Russian appearing to struggle in the early stages, the pit wall asked him to let team-mate Ricciardo past, which he did.
Once clear of Kvyat, the Australian began to push hard. On lap 10 he made his way past Hulkenberg at Turn One and then three laps later he muscled his way past Bottas to claim fourth place.
Williams took the pass as the signal to bring Bottas in for a change of tyres and the Finn’s visit to pit lane triggered the first round of stops. As the major of the field took on fresh rubber Hamilton vaulted up the order, rising to fifth by lap 17. The Briton was setting fastest race laps and running up to four tenths of a second quicker than leader Vettel but the Mercedes man was still 30 seconds adrift of the lead.
Hamilton made his first visit to the pit lane on lap 19, taking on more soft tyres in a four-second stop. He was followed a lap later by team-mate Rosberg who made a rapid 2.8-second stop for medium tyres. Leader Vettel responded on laps 21 and took on soft tyres on a 3.2s stop, while third on the road Ricciardo followed on the same lap but, like Rosberg, he opted for the medium tyre for his second stint. Vettel then resumed the lead when Räikkönen took on more soft tyres.
With only medium-tyre starter Pastor Maldonado and Manor’s Will Stevens left to pit, the order on lap 24 was Vettel with six seconds in hand over second-placed Räikkönen and the Finn a further six seconds ahead of Rosberg. Ricciardo was fourth, 16s off the lead, but with the medium tyre on board he was struggling to resist attacks from Hamilton who was on the soft tyre. Hamilton was now 31.5s behind Vettel.
Bottas was now sixth ahead of Hulkenberg, with the medium-shod Kvyat eighth ahead of Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso who had climbed from 15th on the grid to sit in a points-scoring position. Maldonado, meanwhile, had received a drive through penalty for colliding with Sergio Perez and was now languishing in 18th position.
At the front, Ricciardo lost the battle against Hamilton on lap 29, with the champion, aided by quicker tyres, a more powerful engine and DRS, sweeping past the Red Bull driver on the run to Turn One.
After passing Ricciardo the middle stint saw Hamilton, on softs, begin to reel in the medium-tyre shod Rosberg and by lap 40 he was just six seconds behind his team-mate. Ricciardo also on the slower medium tyres began to drop back from Hamilton and was now nine seconds adrift of the Mercedes. Vettel and Räikkönen, meanwhile, were on a second soft-tyre stint and would need to complete the race on the slower medium tyre. Vettel’s lead over his team-mate was now 10 seconds and he was a further six clear of Rosberg.
Ferrari’s hopes of a first one-two finish in five years (since the German GP of 2010) began to look shaky on lap 41 as Räikkönen’s times began to drop and he reported a loss if power, attributed to an MGU-K problem.
The picture became even more bleak on lap 41 when Nico Hulkenberg’s front wing collapsed on the main straight and the Force India driver straight-lined Turn One and went into the barriers.
That triggered a Virtual Safety car and a flurry of pit stops saw the leaders pit for their final set of tyres, during which Rosberg opted to stay on mediums rather than the softs his team had earlier advised. Under the VSC the gaps were maintained, but with debris from Hulkenberg’s wing strewn across the track the VSC was rapidly replaced by the real thing, which led the field through the pit lane due to the debris on the track, and Vettel’s comfortable lead was almost erased.
The Safety Car left the track at the end of lap 48 and while Vettel powered away to hold his lead and Raikkonen vainly battled to defend from Rosberg, who made it through to second, Ricciardo, on the soft tyre, mounted an attack on Hamilton on the slower medium. He went around the outside of the Mercedes through the opening corners but the pair tangled with the left side of Hamilton’s front wing being shredded on the right sight of Ricciardo’s Red Bull.
The Australian came out of the collision in better shape and set off after Räikkönen. Hamilton though fell back to sixth and he was later penalised with a driver through penalty for causing the collision.
Hamilton was passed by Kvyat and Bottas but in getting past the Mercedes, Bottas was tagged by the Toro Rosso of Max Verstappen and the Finn sustained a puncture.
Räikkönen, meanwhile, was struggling badly and Ferrari’s hopes were finally dashed when he was brought to the pits where mechanics appeared to reset the car. He dropped back to 16th and eventually retired on lap 56.
Vettel now led, with just 1.3s in hand over Rosberg, who was being harried by the hard-charging Ricciardo who was on the quicker soft tyre. Kvyat was fourth in the second Red Bull ahead of Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen but the major surprise, on lap, 59 was that Alonso had kept his nose clean and his McLaren in good shape to hold sixth position with a little over 10 laps to go. Romain Grosjean was seventh for Lotus, while Jenson Button was eighth in the second McLaren. Carlos Sainz was ninth in the second Toro Rosso and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson occupied the final points position. Hamilton, who had taken his penalty, was down in 12th.
The order looked set but at the start of lap 64, Ricciardo made a bold attempt to pass Rosberg into Turn One. He braked very late and ran wide and then as Rosberg passed him again Ricciardo collided with Rosberg, with the Australian’s front wing being destroyed and Rosberg sustaining a puncture.
That vaulted Kvyat to second. The Russian had been handed a time penalty for exceeding the track limits but when Ricciardo re-joined after pitting for a new nose Kvyat still had enough of a gap to hold the place.
Rosberg, meanwhile, was forced to limp all the way around the track before taking on new tyres and when he re-joined he found himself in ninth place.
Vettel, though, sailed on serenely, and when the flag came out he crossed the line with five seconds in hand over Kvyat. Ricciardo took third, while Verstappen claimed his best ever F1 result with fourth place. Alonso claimed McLaren’s best result of the season with fifth, while Hamilton claimed seventh. Rosberg passed Button for eighth in the closing laps and Ericsson took the final point on offer.
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Vettel wins incident-packed Hungarian Grand Prix, dedicates victory to Jules Bianchi
- Formula 1