BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 29: Race winner Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP and second place Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari celebrate on the podium during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 29, 2018 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

We look at the winners and losers of the Hungarian GP. It turned out to be an unexpected victory for Lewis Hamilton on a weekend when Ferrari dominated in the free practice sessions. Sebastian Vettel took second-place, but he was a hair’s breadth away from disaster after a collision with Valtteri Bottas in the final laps.

Hungarian GP – Winners and Losers

Winners

Lewis Hamilton

The Hungaroring has not been a track Mercedes has excelled at in recent seasons. The free practice sessions confirmed that Ferrari had the edge in the searingly hot conditions and Vettel was the favourite to take pole position. But a soaking wet qualification session gave Hamilton the opening he needed. The “rain master” took it with both hands to take pole and convert it into a surprisingly comfortable win in dry conditions on Sunday. Hamilton has maximized all the opportunities that has come his way this season.

The reigning world champion goes into the summer break with a 24-point lead over title-rival Vettel. The Briton’s five wins in the 2018 season have come in contrasting style. Dominant wins in Spain, France and Hungary, mixed with somewhat fortuitous wins in Azerbaijan and Germany. Hamilton’s record-setting sixth win at the Hungarian GP and 67th career win overall sees him heading into the summer break with momentum.

Hamilton after the win at Hungary said:“We came here knowing Ferrari would be quick this weekend, so to come out with these points, we’ll definitely take as a bonus this time. I was sweating. It was so hot. Difficult but I was able to manage the pace. It was the last part here which really killed me. I’m going to celebrate with my team. Big thank you to everyone at the factory… really happy with how strong it has come the last couple of races. Grateful for all the efforts of the team, they all deserve the break, I hope they keep pushing.”

Daniel Ricciardo

A fourth-place finish with a comeback drive from the back on a hard to overtake track saw the big smile back on Ricciardo’s face. A wretched qualification session saw Ricciardo starting P12 on the grid. Even the ever-smiling Australian seemed a bit fazed with the way the session had unfolded.

His teammate Max Verstappen was well ahead of him as he started P7. A collision on lap 1 with Marcus Ericsson saw him drop to P16. But a gritty drive with signature overtake moves saw him progress to P7 by lap 16. The key to the strong drive was a long stint of 44 laps on the soft tyres as he scythed through the field.

On new ultrasoft tyres, Ricciardo overtook Valtteri Bottas on the final lap. But not before a collision that saw Bottas penalized by the stewards. The “Driver Of the Day” and “DHL Fastest Lap” award was just reward. After a poor string of races, Ricciardo heads into the summer break in a happy frame of mind.

Pierre Gasly

Another strong drive from the young Frenchman saw him essay a P6 finish in his Honda-powered Toro Rosso. Gasly qualified an impressive sixth ahead of Red Bull’s Verstappen in mixed conditions. A long stint of 32 laps on the ultrasoft tyres, followed by a good second stint on the soft tyres saw him hold on to sixth place. To stay ahead of the Haas car of Kevin Magnussen and finish “best of the rest” was truly impressive.

This result along with the fourth-place finish in Bahrain has seen Gasly outshine his teammate Brendon Hartley (26-2 pts).

Kimi Raikkonen

Raikkonen with the third-place finish in Hungary has five podium finishes in a row. In a gruelling stretch of the season that saw five races in six weeks, the Finn was a model of consistency. Raikkonen was the only top 10 finisher on a two-stop strategy. But he made it work and was right behind his teammate Vettel in the final laps. A strong drive from the Finn indeed.

Mistakes in qualification and a few below par drives set off rumours about Charles Leclerc replacing him in 2019 at Ferrari. But eight podiums in 12 races and third position in the drivers’ championship (146 pts) has seen Raikkonen fight back.

Fernando Alonso

Race day at the Hungarian GP was the 37th birthday of Alonso. As usual, he put the car in a position far above its pace as he finished P8. He along with Raikkonen is the elder statesman on the grid. But on Sunday, both men showed that their skills and grit has not diminished.

Alonso normally excels in wet conditions. But after acrimonious exchanges over team radio about strategy, the Spaniard qualified only P11. In the race with a long first stint of 39 laps on soft tyres he wrung out every bit of performance from the MCL33. Put simply by the man himself: “It was a happy day”.

Losers

Valtteri Bottas

Bottas endured a rather wretched race day that he would surely like to forget. The Finn qualified second behind Hamilton in the rain and finished P5. He made a good start and stayed second ahead of the Ferraris. Bottas pitted on lap 16 to mirror Raikkonen’s pitstop strategy. But his fellow Finn pitted for a second time. Bottas was left out to do 55 laps on the soft tyres. He defended well against Vettel and kept him behind in third place, even as Hamilton extended his lead in front.

But in the final laps, Vettel overtook him and Bottas suffered front wing damage. Raikkonen also went past and soon Ricciardo was behind him. With worn out tyres and a damaged car, it was a lost cause for Bottas. But he defended hard and the resultant collision led to a 10-second time penalty and two penalty points on his licence.

The normally calm Bottas was upset by team boss Toto Wolff referring to him as a “sensational wingman”. Though Wolff later qualified his remarks, the damage was done. Luck has not favoured Bottas in the season so far. The summer break has come at the right time for the Finn to reset and come back strong for the second-half of the season.

Max Verstappen

Verstappen had a DNF with yet another Renault engine-related issue. The young Dutchman was in fifth position at that time. He was so incensed by yet another reliability issue that he unleashed an epithet-laden rant on team radio. Red Bull Racing arrived in Hungary with high hopes. The track characteristics suited the RB14. Verstappen was nowhere in qualification in the rain and finished seventh. But he overtook Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly in the first lap. But 5 laps later he had to retire from the race.

Teammate Ricciardo went from 16th to fourth and showed what was possible. Verstappen is sixth in the drivers’ championship, 13-points adrift of Ricciardo. He will hope that he can again recreate the same strong performance he essayed after the summer break last season.

Stoffel Vandoorne

Vandoorne has endured through a difficult season so far. Outscored by his formidable teammate Alonso by 8-44 points in 12 races. The last point scoring race was the Azerbaijan GP. After eight scoreless races, he was finally running in the points. But a gearbox problem saw his race end in bitter disappointment.

It is not easy for any driver to do battle with a teammate like Alonso. Vandoorne has been hampered by some mysterious problem with his car which has resulted in less downforce. The team gave him a new chassis here, but to no avail. With the talented young McLaren protégé Lando Norris breathing down his neck, Vandoorne’s drive is in jeopardy. The Belgian needs a complete turnaround in his season after the summer break to preserve his drive.

Renault

Nico Hulkenberg is a master in mixed conditions. But he was hampered by reliability issues in qualification. The German started 13th and made progress in the early laps. But a strategy of Soft-Medium-Ultrasoft tyres did not pay off as he finished 12th.

Sainz started from P5 after a strong qualification. But the Spaniard fell to eighth in the first lap. The Soft-Medium tyre strategy did not work and he finished P9.

The car is hard on its tyres. The Renault engine has been shown up at the power tracks. The reliability issues faced by soon to depart customer team Red Bull led to a war of words between Christian Horner and Cyril Abiteboul. The team needs big improvements on the chassis and engine front in the second-half of the season, if they hope to hold off Haas F1 for fourth place in the constructors’ championship.

Williams

The Grove-based team is dead last in the constructors’ championship. The woes continued with another pointless race in Hungary. Lance Stroll’s eighth-place finish in Baku is the only points scored by the team this season. Sergey Sirotkin has yet to open his account in his rookie season.

Both drivers finished last in the race. With question marks surrounding Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams, the team heads into the summer break with dark clouds hanging around it.

MAIN PHOTO:
Embed from Getty Images

LEAVE A REPLY

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.