Sunday afternoon, the F1 drivers are eager to get the race started. The high temperature is causing some concerns amongst the engineers up and down the grid, as extra cooling is being used to keep the cars from overheating. Mercedes are having the worst of the problems with concerns on Hamilton’s car and double the normal engineers surrounding it as Bottas’s engineers lend a hand to help the Mercedes number one driver’s car.
All strapped in and ready to get going, Vettel and Raikkonen lead the F1 grid on the parade lap, as they round the final corner, Alonso in the McLaren-Honda is eagerly warming his tyres, snaking the back of the McLaren, spinning up the rear wheels, heating the tyres, looking to make his mark today.
The lights go out and Vettel and Raikkonen lead the charge for the first corner, Bottas is right behind, but Hamilton slower on the start is swamped by the Red Bull’s as Verstappen and Ricciardo move up.
All safely round turn one, but then Grosjean and Hulkenberg touch, with the Renault being pushed wide of the track in turn one, but able to carry on.
Turn 2 approaches all to quickly for Verstappen, with Ricciardo ahead, the young Dutch driver moves up the inside and brakes late, locking up and slides wide hitting Ricciardo on the side pod, puncturing his rear tyre and then Ricciardo slows and spins, as water and oil from his side pod cover his punctured rear tyre.
Red Bull’s pit wall, cannot believe what they have seen. Verstappen is able to carry on, but has now dropped back to P5, while Ricciardo is stranded on the exit of turn three, race over and Safety Car is deployed to clear the Red Bull and mop up the oil on the track.
Vettel leads the cars and they settle down to a nice fuel saving pace behind the safety car, but this also will assist the teams in the tyre management today, but Sauber in a strange move, pit both their cars and change tyres in their only pit stop of the day.
Verstappen is handed a 10 Second Penalty for Causing a Collision, which will be served at his pit stop. Ricciardo now back in the Red Bull garage is clearly unhappy and vocal about his team mates driving, it takes 66 laps for him to calm down, before he gets to see his team mate after the race, as on lap six the safety car is in and the race restarts.
Vettel and Raikkonen start to pull away, but the gap to Bottas and Hamilton is not as big as they want giving them a chance to overtake in turn two, but the Mercedes drivers cannot get close enough.
Sainz who has moved up from P9 to P6 is right behind Hamilton and Verstappen is being hunted down by Alonso in the McLaren-Honda. The two Spanish drivers set about fighting for the place, but the pace of the Toro Rosso keeps it ahead of the McLaren.
Palmer in the Renault lets his team mate Hulkenberg pass on lap nineteen as Hulkenberg is clearly the faster driver and team radio then is heard “Jo is slower than you and will let you pass”. Hulkenberg does not need a second chance and is passed, but in equal cars the pace of Hulkenberg is clear for everyone to see and Renault must be impressed with his performance and surely he could be there next F1 World Champion, one day.
Grosjean slows and pits with a slow puncture and pits, but his team are concerned as he leaves the pit box and signal the pit wall, Cross Threaded Wheel Nut. Haas are straight on the radio informing Grosjean who slows the car and retires on lap twenty-three, leaving Magnussen to fight or as he said over the radio, “Get my shoulders out” for the Haas team.
Williams, are missing Massa today, but Di Resta is hanging on and currently ahead of the Sauber’s, but Williams are not on the pace today and Stroll stops first on lap thirty followed by Di Resta and then the flood gates are opened as the rest of the F1 teams start their pit stops.
Bottas is first on lap thirty one, followed by Hamilton, Magnussen and Vettel. Hamilton returns to the track just behind Bottas, but cannot get passed.
Raikkonen pits and again returns to the track just like Hamilton right behind his team mate, Vettel. Raikkonen is the faster Ferrari today. Vettel is fighting the Ferrari, with a understeering problem. Ferrari however will not allow Raikkonen to pass Vettel for the lead, using him as protection against the approaching Mercedes cars.
Sainz and Alonso still fight for position, pit together and exit the pit lane together with barely a hairs breath between they keep on this fight until Alonso finally gets passed on lap thirty-eight on the exit of turn two.
Mercedes is closing the gap on the Ferrari’s and Raikkonen is on the radio stating he feels uncomfortable about the position he is being put in by the team. Ferrari responds telling Vettel to push harder or risk the Mercedes catching them.
Hamilton is faster than Bottas and after radio calls, Hamilton passes Bottas on the entry to turn one, but over the radio “You have 5 Laps to make this work or swap back with Bottas”, Hamilton replies “No pressure then” and set about chasing down Raikkonen.
Lap forty-eight and Hulkenberg pits, but the front right wheel will not come off. A result of the collision with Grosjean at the start or just bad luck, it’s a slow stop, but finally he underway again.
Bottas’s radio goes on lap forty-nine “Hamilton will let you back passed, if he cannot get Kimi”, but Bottas is now five seconds behind his team mate and must close the gap if he wants to make it a smooth retake for third place.
Verstappen in the Red Bull is only two seconds behind Bottas and closing in on the Mercedes faster than expected, given he has already had his ten second penalty and knocking out his team mate Ricciardo, Red Bull can be forgiven for having some severe words with him at the end of the race. They could have scored a victory here today if not for the rash overtaking move of Verstappen.
Lap sixty-two and Williams retire Di Resta from the race, a great show today by the young Scottish driver, not having driven the car before qualifying on Saturday and not raced in F1 since 2013, this has ignited his F1 return dream, but has it been enough and will Massa recover in time for Spa at the end of the August, only time will tell, but he can be proud of his achievement this weekend.
Hulkenberg retires on lap sixty-nine, but all eyes are on Hamilton, he is still behind Raikkonen, but Bottas is still five seconds behind him and is that swap back going to happen.
As Vettel and Raikkonen round the final corner and win the Hungarian GP, Hamilton slows, letting lapped cars overtake and then Bottas passes and Hamilton accelerates towards the line behind him as Verstappen joins them only two car lengths behind.
Hamilton has kept his word, let his team mate repass him for third place today and sacrifices three championship points with this move, dropping to fourteen points behind Vettel in the drivers’ championship.
Alonso, on the final lap sets the fastest lap time of the race and celebrates with his team mate Vandoorne who takes tenth place, a double point’s finish for McLaren-Honda which sees them rise from the bottom of the constructor’s table and overtake Sauber.
Force India, not mentioned today and rarely seen finished with a double points score for the team confirming their dominance over Williams this year, one which they hope will help them challenge Red Bull before the end of the year.
Renault and Toro Rosso both lost out today to McLaren-Honda, while Sainz drove brilliantly for Toro Rosso, Kvyat did lack in his performance, as has Palmer in the Renault and once again his race seat will be questioned against his lack of performance.
As Vettel, Raikkonen and Bottas spray and celebrate with the Carbon Champagne on the podium, £3000 champagne magnum bottles, made with a fine coating of carbon fibre and fitted with a camera to record the event are up staged by Fernando Alonso as he takes a seat below the podium on the specially designed art feature of Alonso resting in a deckchair enjoying the sunshine.
Alonso holds a sign F1 Wishes you a Happy Holiday, relaxing in a deckchair, sunglasses on, Vettel and Ferrari may have won today, but Alonso is the hero, fastest lap and his wit have captured the new F1 atmosphere, times are changing and McLaren-Honda are scoring points and in the top ten again, what next, a podium?
The last words go to Magnussen and Hulkenberg in the press pen, as Hulkenberg interrupts Magnussen on live TV;
Hulkenberg “Once again the most unsporting driver…”
Magnussen “Suck my *****, honey”
Live TV and across Twitter, Magnussen not mixing his words. This race will be remembered for many reasons, but Vettel win and Hamilton handing back the place will forever be overshadowed by Alonso once again in a deckchair, but after taking P6 and Fastest Lap.
Enjoy the summer break; we will be back with F1 in Belgium for Spa Francorchamps in four weeks’ time.
1. Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 70 laps
2. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +0.9s
3. Valtteri Bottas Mercedes +12.4s
4. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +12.8s
5. Max Verstappen Red Bull +13.2s
6. Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda +1m 11.2s
7. Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso +1 lap
8. Sergio Perez Force India +1 lap
9. Esteban Ocon Force India +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 +1 lap
14. Lance Stroll Williams +1 lap
15. Pascal Wehrlein Sauber +2 laps
16. Marcus Ericsson Sauber +2 laps
Did not finished
17. Nico Hulkenberg Renault 68 laps
18. Paul di Resta Williams 61 laps completed
19. Romain Grosjean Haas 19 laps completed
20. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 0 laps completed
Colin Logan for In2Motorsports.com