Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen paired up to make to make it an all Ferrari weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix. For Vettel the win marks his fourth of the season allowing Vettel to build a 14-point lead in the race for the Driver's Championship over Lewis Hamilton who finished fourth behind Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas. For Raikkonen it was another day of lamenting about a race he should have or could have won but didn't.
Vettel jumped into the lead at lights out followed closely by Raikkonen as the Ferrari's began a race long show of strength. Following the Ferraris was Bottas and the two Red Bull cars of Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo. As the leaders entered turn two Verstappen was inside of Ricciardo when Verstappen locked up his front tires under heavy breaking causing his car to slide into Ricciardo's car cutting down a tire and puncturing the radiator. Ricciardo spun coming to a stop in a sea of coolant his day over.
“The start wasn’t too bad and I got a good exit out of Turn 1, I saw Bottas on the inside of Turn 2 so knew I had plenty of room on the outside." said Ricciardo "I thought it was a good place to position myself and protect my position through the turn. I felt a hit but couldn’t see who it was, I knew Max was on my inside going into Turn 2 so assumed it must have been him. It’s really frustrating as we know our car has been better than sixth all weekend so we went out there to push for a good result and get on the podium. We will discuss the incident in de-brief this evening and me and Max will talk privately also and sort it out. I would have loved to race today and now I have four weeks to wait until I can get in the car again. It’s a shame to finish the first half of the season and head into the summer break in this way.”
Verstappen's view, “I think the situation started from Turn 1. My start was actually quite good but then I got squeezed a bit wide on to the astro-turf and lost quite a bit of speed. Then Daniel and I were both fighting for position at Turn 2 so we braked quite deep into the corner. I had a car in front of me so I lost quite a bit of downforce and locked the front tires, from there I was just a passenger. I was trying to avoid Daniel of course but unfortunately that was not possible. It is never my intention to hit anyone, but especially not your team-mate, and especially with the relationship I have with Daniel, it's always really good and we can always have a laugh. This is not nice and I apologize to Daniel for that and also to the team because we could have scored some good points here. I'll speak with Daniel in private and we'll sort it out. It was actually a positive Sunday in terms of pace. It’s not nice what happened in the beginning of the race, so I’m of course not happy with that, but at least the car is moving forward.”
As the race progressed Vettel began battling a steering problem with his Ferrari that kept pulling the car to the left. Vettel managed to adapt to the problem but Raikkonen closed the gap and appeared to be the quicker of the two.
Vettel pitted first on lap 33 of the 70 lap race followed by Raikkonen on the next lap. However, Raikkonen was slowed by a back marker on his in-lap that allowed Vettel to keep the lead after stops had been completed. Raikkonen was again found himself in a position of having the superior car but unable to take advantage of the situation. Raikkonen being Raikkonen let the team know his feelings over the radio.
Behind the Ferrari's the two Mercedes maintain contact with the leaders but could do little else. The third placed Bottas could do little to catch the leaders and gave way to Hamilton allowing the defending Champion a clear shot at the Ferrari's. Hamilton could close on but not attack the Ferraris finally dangerously heating up the brakes on his Mercedes in the effort.
As the laps ticked off Vettel won the battle with his ill handling car taking the checkered flag for the victory followed by Raikkonen.
“Everybody inside the team can be very happy and proud of what we have done today!" said Vettel "Afterwards, I said to Kimi that I was sorry, because I was slow and struggling during the race. For Kimi it was not good to be there in the middle of a sandwich. It was a tough race that, in the end, kept a good shape. I developed a problem with the steering wheel and I don’t know why yet. We need to avoid it happening again of course, but during the race I didn’t have an option. It’s not like parking the car, check if everything’s all right and then fix the problem. It was quite annoying because it was a strange feeling. But then, at some point, I forgot about it and just tried to get used to it, which was tricky because it just kept changing and getting worse. However, in the end the pace was still there. More generally, I don’t like the short term view that some people have, that after a good race everything is great and you are the hero, but after a bad race it is a disaster. It is not fair because people work hard spending a lot of time, working all together on the car. In my opinion, we have the best car and downforce which, hasn’t been the case for many years. In the end we can make a difference and we have done that so far. We have our testing days here next week and we have a lot of work to do. After that there will be the Belgian GP. Our car has been good there and I think we have some improvements, so it should be fine.”
Raikkonen once again felt he had taken on for the team, “Today my car was amazing, the handling was perfect and I was always feeling comfortable; even following Seb from very close behind, the behavior was fantastic. I had no worries that Mercedes could get me. I had a pretty good start and a good run in the first corner; then I took it quite easy. In places like this it’s tricky to try and overtake and I did not want to force things too much with my team mate. When you end up between two cars is not the easiest situation. When they called me for the pit stop I wanted to stay on track a bit longer because I felt I had the speed, but the team has the big picture and I trust them. I ended up following Seb through the whole race and I was never able to use my full speed. Today I knew I had all the tools to finish in a better position, but I should have done a better qualifying. I’m happy for the result that we achieved as a team and this is the main thing. I’m here to win races, but If you take the big picture it was a great weekend, we got the maximum out of it.”
Behind the Ferraris on the last lap of the race Hamilton returned the favor to Bottas allowing the Finn to pass and take the final podium step.
"I tried my best out there." said Hamilton "It's tough when you push so hard and you work so hard and you end up in the same place that you started. When the radio didn't work, I was thinking that the team was worried about the tyres not going the distance. So maybe they were going slow so that they could speed up later. I was pushing and I had all this pace, but I was stuck behind Valtteri and I couldn't tell the team because of the radio. But in the final laps, I kept my word. I said that if I couldn’t pass Kimi then I would let Valtteri back. I have said through this year that I want to win this title in the right way – and perhaps I will look at it in a different way if, at the end of the season, I lose out by a small margin – but I believe in doing the right thing and that when you put good things out there, they come back to you. I was 20 points behind before, but down to one, and now back to 14. We have lost quite a few points in the first half of the year – but I know that we can win it, once we come back even better after the summer break."
Bottas' view, "It was really tricky today. The pace was not so much a problem. But once you get within 1.5 seconds to the car in front of you it becomes so difficult to close the gap. And that track position was a big benefit for Ferrari today. Even though Sebastian was struggling, no-one could pass him. We tried as a team to swap positions, but Lewis couldn't get past them either. We didn’t gain any points but I’m glad we tried it. I was promised that Lewis would let me back if it didn't work out. I was struggling with the back markers so the gap to Lewis became bigger than I wanted. But Lewis and the team kept their promise and we swapped positions back in the last lap. I don't think every team-mate would do that in a championship fight, so I think that was really nice of him and it shows that he is a real team player. Our situations still is not too bad with regards to the points and the championship standing. Lewis and me are still in the fight."
Finishing a costly fifth was Max Verstappen. Fernando Alonso was an impressive sixth for McLaren with Carlos Sainz seventh for Toro Rosso. Eighth place went to Force India’s Sergio Perez, who had climbed from 13th on the grid, while ninth place went to Esteban Ocon. The final point was taken by Stoffel Vandoorne making it a double points finish for McLaren.
1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari 1:39'46.713
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari 0.908
3 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes Mercedes 12.462
4 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes Mercedes 12.885
5 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG 13.276
6 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda 1'11.223
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 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1 lap
12 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso Renault 1 lap
13 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault 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 Renault
Paul di Resta Williams Mercedes
Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari
Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG
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