Just how full-on bonkers was this race? The whole thing was definitely shaken, not stirred! What's crazy: Sebastian Vettel--not Lewis Hamilton or Nico Rosberg--took the win. Crazier: No Mercs on the podium--they were beaten by the Red Bulls. And craziest: Both McLarens scored points, and Fernando Alonso placed higher than both Silver Arrows!
The Ferraris took the initiative at the start, which was initially aborted due to an out-of-position Felipe Massa; a second formation lap brought the total lap count from 70 to 69. Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen made brilliant launches off the line, outgunning the Mercs and running one-two after two corners. Pole-sitter Hamilton, on the other hand, had a near-tangle and an off-track moment at the Turn 6/7 chicane, dropping him down to P10. Daniel Ricciardo also had a poor start from P4.
Surprisingly, the Ferraris continued to pull away from Rosberg, and for 40 laps, it felt like we'd been beamed back to 2013. There was Vettel, enjoying clean air and a leisurely Sunday drive, with his teammate ready to run interference if Rosberg got too close. Not that Vettel needed it--his cushion over the Merc driver was enough for a pit stop. Come the halfway point, the order at the front was as follows: Vettel (on option tires), Raikkonen (option), Rosberg (prime), Hamilton (option), and Ricciardo (prime).
Then things came undone--and by "things" we mean Raikkonen's MGU-K (resulting in a power loss of about 160hp) and Nico Hulkenberg's front wing. The latter caused the Force India driver to smash into the Turn 1 barrier at high speed--this after teammate Sergio Perez had a suspension failure that had caused his car to roll during Friday free practice. Both Force India failures were attributed to the Hungaroring's curbs.
Hulkenberg's accident triggered a virtual safety-car period, but the actual safety car was brought out soon after because there was too much debris on the track. This was bad news for Vettel: The virtual safety car slowed down the field but kept the gaps between the cars, whereas the safety car bunched everyone together.
When the top five changed tires during this period, everyone but Ricciardo put on the prime compound. Vettel, Raikkonen and Hamilton had yet to run these tires, while Rosberg felt he had better pace on them and insisted on mirroring what Hamilton was doing. It gave Ricciardo an advantage: Not only were his option tires faster, they were also much quicker to get to temperature when the race restarted.
True enough, when the safety car pulled in on Lap 49, Ricciardo made a move on Hamilton. The defending champion collided with the Red Bull driver, and had to pit for a new front wing--then again to serve a drive-through penalty for the incident. It put him back to P13.
Out on track, Rosberg and Ricciardo overtook Raikkonen (who later retired) and set about chasing Vettel while squabbling for position. But Vettel seemed fated to finally win in Hungary in his ninth attempt: On Lap 64, Ricciardo ran wide on Turn 1, and his front wing punctured Rosberg's left rear tire as he was rejoining the track. Both drivers had to pit for new parts, leaving Vettel to run untroubled for the last five laps.
Daniil Kvyat was elevated to second place as a result of Rosberg and Ricciardo's troubles, and despite being handed a 10-second time penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, he kept the position to score his first-ever F1 podium. Teammate Ricciardo salvaged third place, and Max Verstappen's career-best P4 finish meant the top four were all graduates of Red Bull's young driver program. This should be Helmut Marko's cue to ask for a budget increase.
Alonso claimed P5 after surviving a right-rear puncture halfway through the race. Hamilton finished sixth ahead of Massa and Rosberg, so he was actually able to extend his championship lead over his teammate. Jenson Button and Marcus Ericsson completed the top 10.
Clippings from the Hungarian GP
* Fastest lap: D. Ricciardo, 1:24.821 (Lap 29)
* Team radio talk: Sebastian Vettel is notoriously exuberant on the team radio when he wins, but this time, he delivered a poignant message in memory of Jules Bianchi. "Merci, Jules. Cette victoire est pour toi (This victory is for you). You will always be in our hearts. We know that sooner or later, Jules would have been a part of this team." Bianchi, who passed away on July 17th, had been a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy.
* Celebrity moment: It had to be all the drivers getting together for a minute's silence before the race to honor Bianchi. As moving as that was, though, we hope we wouldn't have to see something like that again.
* Missing in action: The Williams drivers failed to score points. Felipe Massa picked up a five-second penalty for causing an aborted start, and Valtteri Bottas got a puncture after the safety-car restart as he jostled for position. Meanwhile, Raikkonen had looked set for a P2 finish when his MGU-K decided to leave earlier for summer break.
* Just driving through: Damn, that was embarrassing--three penalties in one race for Pastor Maldonado. He got a drive-through for tagging Sergio Perez, another drive-through for speeding in the pit lane, and a 10-second time penalty for overtaking before crossing the safety-car line at the restart.
* Penalties galore: It wasn't just Maldonado who kept the stewards busy. Daniil Kvyat, Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo came under investigation toward the end of the race, with the first three getting penalized for infractions after the safety-car restart.
* Stat attack: Vettel now equals Ayrton Senna's tally of 41 victories. Only Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost have more wins with 91 and 51, respectively, but Hamilton is not far behind with 38.
* Top tweet: This got a lot of retweets on Sunday night, and deservedly so--it's hysterical and completely on the mark. (Side note: Apparently, the mascot is called Funassyi. Here's the video from which the GIF was taken.)
Sebastian Vettel's entire race pic.twitter.com/kbi1lSebsv— Joe! (@ImRowley) July 26, 2015
* Pirelli tire stats: It was busy in the pits during the race--the grid made 54 pit stops.
* Quote of the race: Hamilton owned up to being "all over the place" in Hungary. "That was a very tough afternoon. The team did everything right and the car clearly had the pace--I just had a very bad day at the office. It was one of the worst races I think I've had, and I don't really have any explanation for it at the moment. All I can do is apologize to the team and work hard to make amends at the next race."
Images from Ferrari and Red Bull Racing
|Hungarian Grand Prix race results|
|Finishing position||Driver||Starting position||Time/Gap|
|1||S. Vettel (Ferrari)||3||1hr 46:09.985|
|2||D. Kvyat (Red Bull)||7||+15.748|
|3||D. Ricciardo (Red Bull)||4||+25.084|
|4||M. Verstappen (Toro Rosso)||9||+44.251|
|5||F. Alonso (McLaren)||15||+49.079|
|6||L. Hamilton (Mercedes)||1||+52.025|
|7||R. Grosjean (Lotus)||10||+58.578|
|8||N. Rosberg (Mercedes)||2||+58.876|
|9||J. Button (McLaren)||16||+1:07.028|
|10||M. Ericsson (Sauber)||17||+1:09.130|
|11||F. Nasr (Sauber)||18||+1:13.458|
|12||F. Massa (Williams)||8||+1:14.278|
|13||V. Bottas (Williams)||6||+1:20.228|
|14||P. Maldonado (Lotus)||14||+1:25.142|
|15||R. Merhi (Manor Marussia)||19||+2 laps|
|DNF||W. Stevens (Manor Marussia)||20|
|DNF||C. Sainz (Toro Rosso)||12|
|DNF||K. Raikkonen (Ferrari)||5|
|DNF||S. Perez (Force India)||13|
|DNF||N. Hulkenberg (Force India)||11|