Race Report: Vettel steers Ferrari to one-two victory in Hungarian Grand Prix

A sunny Hungarian afternoon turned into a wave of red as Ferrari managed to secure a 1, 2 result in the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday. The Scuderia managed a steering issue on Sebastian Vette’s car and a quicker teammate in Kimi Raikkonen to lock out the top-two spots.

Sebastian heads into the summer break with a 14-point lead and managed to give himself some room to breathe as he entered the weekend with just a 1-point lead. For Lewis Hamilton, ceding the spot back to teammate Valtteri Bottas, he lost ground giving 3 points back in his championship bid.

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Win

If you were looking for dodgy starts to re-shuffle the field, the win is that both Ferrari’s and both Mercedes got good starts and all kept their respective positions into the first turn but Lewis did lose a position to Max Verstappen. After the re-start, Lewis did take a shot at Verstappen, which was a good try, but he also needed to nurse his tires so he chose to slot in and look toward the long-run which was a good call.

A win for Ferrari who were taking heat on social media during the race for not letting Kimi past Sebastian earlier in the race but holding their nerve, they were able to take a 1, 2 and hold both Mercedes behind them in the strategy that ultimately was the correct call. Raikkonen may have been faster due to Seb’s steering issue but unless Hamilton could mount any seriously threatening challenge, Ferrari were cool and kept the head’s down and won.

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A big win for McLaren and Fernando Alonso—who celebrated a birthday this weekend—for bringing both cars home in the points with a 6th and 10th for Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne respectively. Alonso even set the fastest lap of the race and the team must be buoyed by the result. The result lifted McLAren off of the bottom of the constructor’s championship list.

A decent recovery drive brought both Force India’s back in to the points with Sergio Perez 8th and Esteban Ocon in 9th with a damaged car. After a poor qualifying effort and tough race, the team managed points and that’s important.

Fail

A fail for Max Verstappen who hit teammate Daniel Ricciardo and damaged his radiator ending the Australian’s race. The incident prompted a Safety Car period and a radio conversation from Ricciardo who was not happy calling it “immaturity”. It’s a shame because both Red Bull’s got slightly better starts than both Mercedes and Ferrari and could have mixed it up amongst the leaders with Ricciardo running third when he was hit. The stewards reviewed the incident and assigned a 10-second time penalty for Verstappen.

A fail for Mercedes who struggled all weekend and while they ultimately didn’t have the pace at the Hungaroring, it will be even more difficult to reconcile the weekend’s strategy should Hamilton lose the championship by three points or less. I appreciate they were all patting their own backs about the spot swapping back and forth but ultimately it hurt Lewis’s title bid…at least potentially. 

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A fail for Renault who had both cars in the 1op 10 and lost out on points from attrition and a lack of pace on a track they should have had a dual-points finish.

A fail also for Williams who couldn’t manage better than 14th in a race with four DNF’s and that’s unfortunate but it wasn’t for a lack of trying from both Lance Stroll and Paul Di Resta.

WTH

For a team who castigates Ferrari for their team orders and is often quoted as a team that let’s their drivers race, lap 46 was a bit of a telegraphed team order to let Lewis past Bottas. The logic was that Hamilton was faster than Bottas and as a Ferrari fan, I completely understand. I understand that Mercedes wants to seem virtuous with their giving the spot back to Bottas on the last turn of the race but I find that as odd that the broadcasters and fans found it “good sportsmanship” and a fair and correct move. Lewis put himself in serious danger as Verstappen was all over the back of Bottas and as Hamilton slowed 7s to allow the pass, he could regret the decision.

I’m biased because I have no issues with a team orchestrating the best result for both driver’s and constructor’s championships. Ferrari, contrary to NBC’s Steve Matchett’s strong advice, held strong and finished exactly the way they wanted to. Mercedes had a faster driver in Hamilton and he also needs to mitigate the points loss to Vettel, who won. I understand Mercedes wants to be fair but I believe Hamilton should have stayed where he was as he was the faster driver.

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A WTH with the plague going around the paddock that struck Martin Brundle and apparently Felipe Massa who did not qualify or race and this set in motion the call for Paul Di Resta to be called out of his Sky Sports F1 broadcast booth to take the seat for the race. Paul hadn’t driven a F1 car in anger since 2013 and had never drive the current spec of hybrid power unit and new chassis. An outstanding job by anyone’s measure but his presence did mean the grid didn’t have a Brazilian in the race in approximately 30 years. Paul’s blue flag skills were not impressing Kimi Raikkonen who radioed that if he can’t obey the flags, he should go back to reporting.

A WTH for Haas F1 who had a slow puncture on Romain Grosjean’s car and upon pitting for the change, they cross-threaded the left-rear wheel nut and it ended the Frenchman’s race.

RESULTS – 70 LAPS:

POS DRIVER CAR GAP
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1h39m46.713s
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 0.908s
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 12.462s
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 12.885s
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull/Renault 13.276s
6 Fernando Alonso McLaren/Honda 1m11.223s
7 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso/Renault 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/Renault 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 Collision
Paul Di Resta Williams/Mercedes Oil leak
Romain Grosjean Haas/Ferrari Wheel
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull/Renault Collision
Felipe Massa Williams/Mercedes Withdrawn

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP:

POS DRIVER POINTS
1 Sebastian Vettel 202
2 Lewis Hamilton 188
3 Valtteri Bottas 169
4 Daniel Ricciardo 117
5 Kimi Raikkonen 116
6 Max Verstappen 67
7 Sergio Perez 56
8 Esteban Ocon 45
9 Carlos Sainz 35
10 Nico Hulkenberg 26
11 Felipe Massa 23
12 Lance Stroll 18
13 Romain Grosjean 18
14 Kevin Magnussen 11
15 Fernando Alonso 10
16 Pascal Wehrlein 5
17 Daniil Kvyat 4
18 Stoffel Vandoorne 1
19 Jolyon Palmer 0
20 Marcus Ericsson 0
21 Antonio Giovinazzi 0

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP: 

POS CONSTRUCTOR POINTS
1 Mercedes 357
2 Ferrari 318
3 Red Bull/Renault 184
4 Force India/Mercedes 101
5 Williams/Mercedes 41
6 Toro Rosso/Renault 39
7 Haas/Ferrari 29
8 Renault 26
9 McLaren/Honda 11
10 Sauber/Ferrari 5