Front to back: the Hungarian Grand Prix

Reviewing every F1 team and driver from Sunday’s battle of Budapest.


Lewis Hamilton:
qualified 2nd, finished 1st
Nico Rosberg: qualified 1st, finished 2nd
Don’t let the final margin of victory – 1.9 seconds – fool you; this race was as good as over when Hamilton made a cleaner start than his pole-sitting teammate Rosberg, survived a bold move around the outside from Ricciardo at the first corner, and then streaked away to lead by a second after one lap at a circuit that, as the next 69 proved, is close to impossible to pass on even if the driver behind is faster, which Rosberg plainly wasn’t. Hamilton’s lead ebbed and flowed in the traffic that comes with 21 of the 22 starters finishing the race, and by the end, he’d lapped everyone up to and including Alonso in seventh. What’s more, his fifth win in Budapest set a record for the Hungarian Grand Prix, and his fifth win in the past six races this season saw him take the championship lead for the first time. Rosberg’s first podium in Hungary in 11 visits was bittersweet, as his championship lead that was established in Australia and ballooned to 43 points after Russia in round four is gone, and on current form, it’s hard to imagine him getting it back. The German’s biggest win over the weekend was signing a two-year contract extension to stay with the Silver Arrows until the end of 2018, but if those two years continue along the same lines as the past two, perhaps that won’t seem like such a victory after all. At a circuit where Mercedes hadn’t won since the advent of the V6 turbo hybrid era, the sport’s powerhouse outfit was what team principal Toto Wolff said it needed to be before the weekend – “flawless” – and then some.

Sebastian Vettel:
qualified 5th, finished 4th
Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 14th, finished 6th
With Mercedes doing as it pleased up front at a circuit where Red Bull and Ferrari were expected to challenge their superiority, Vettel and Raikkonen found themselves in spirited battles with Ricciardo and Verstappen respectively in the closing laps, but neither could get ahead. Vettel’s race was steady rather than spectacular for the most part, but he came after Ricciardo hard in the final stint, running out of laps to attack his former teammate and finishing six-tenths of a second adrift. The four-time champion was less than impressed by the masses of lapped traffic he encountered on the twisty Hungaroring layout, his displeasure over the team radio showing a solid grasp of English profanities. Raikkonen recovered strongly from a disastrous qualifying, and used a soft tyre-led strategy from 14th on the grid to run long in the first stint and get in the fight with the Red Bull of Verstappen, the two connecting at Turn 3 on lap 57 and leaving the Finnish veteran furious, and with bits of his front wing missing as he tried to snatch fifth to no avail. Those two extra championship points would have been handy, as Raikkonen dropped to fourth in the drivers’ standings, one point behind Ricciardo. Speaking of one point, that’s the slender margin Ferrari now leads Red Bull by in the constructors’ championship, with Mercedes – who Ferrari had targeted beating at the start of the season – a whopping 154 points in the distance.

Front to back: what happened at the British Grand Prix?

Felipe Massa:
qualified 18th, finished 18th
Valtteri Bottas: qualified 10th, finished 9th
Ninth for Bottas and a miserable weekend for Massa made it a total of just four points in the past three races for Williams, who struggled mightily at a circuit with no straights of note and plenty of twists and turns, which couldn’t play less to the FW38’s strengths. Bottas gained one place from his starting position – a result of Button’s retirement for McLaren – and was in no man’s land, seven seconds behind Sainz’s Toro Rosso and seven seconds ahead of Hulkenberg’s Force India to collect two points, while Massa’s weekend started badly and didn’t get a lot better; after crashing in qualifying, the Brazilian veteran’s build-up to the race was fraught when the team had to change his steering rack in the final minutes before the start.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo:
qualified 3rd, finished 3rd
Max Verstappen: qualified 4th, finished 5th
A second podium for 2016 was a long time coming for Ricciardo, especially as his other one had been at Monaco, where the second step that day left him feeling decidedly second-rate. A third podium in as many years in Hungary was just reward for being the only driver who looked capable of giving Mercedes a hard time for the entire weekend, although his final pit stop on lap 33 – an early and bold move to make Mercedes blink and perhaps pit Rosberg – almost backfired when Vettel came hard at him in the closing stages. Finishing 27 seconds from the winner at a race Red Bull targeted as perhaps its best chance for another win this season was less than the team wanted, but Ricciardo did very little wrong, and reclaimed third in the drivers’ standings. Verstappen’s race was less straightforward and more colourful – his comment that he was driving “like a grandma” early in the race was both amusing and more ammunition for those who deride the driving style required in the Pirelli tyre era, while his post-race comment about Raikkonen’s complaining after their tense battle – “I think it’s good to finally hear Kimi talk on the radio” – would have incensed the Finn even further. After showing so well against Ricciardo in their six previous races as teammates, the Australian had the Dutch teenager’s measure on this weekend – but Verstappen’s ability to keep his cool under pressure was evident once again.

Force India
Nico Hulkenberg:
qualified 10th, finished 10th
Sergio Perez: qualified 13th, finished 11th
Force India has made a habit of taking chunks of points out of Williams’ advantage for fourth in the constructors’ championship of late, but couldn’t make it happen in Hungary, Hulkenberg finishing in the same spot he started, and a communications breakdown condemning Perez to a pointless afternoon. The Mexican started ahead of Raikkonen and planned to use a similar strategy of a long stint on the softer tyre to start the race as his way through the field, but his second stop on lap 42 undid all of those gains, Perez arriving in pit lane to the surprise of his team, who didn’t have tyres ready for him. It was a familiar tale of woe at a circuit that has been less than kind to Force India; Hulkenberg’s point was the team’s first at the circuit since 2011, when Paul Di Resta finished seventh.

Jolyon Palmer:
qualified 17th, finished 12th
Kevin Magnussen: qualified 19th, finished 15th
British rookie Palmer was heading for his first F1 points while running inside the top 10 on lap 49 before he spun off at Turn 4; while he able to regroup and continue, his big chance to get off the mark was gone. “It’s a disaster because I was running 10th, I had no more pit stops – it was there for us,” he said afterwards. “It was the best drive of my career, but I spun it and we didn’t get any points. I’m gutted.” It was by far the most convincing display of the 2014 GP2 champion’s F1 career, but promising unfortunately doesn’t add up to points. Teammate Magnussen had a tough weekend too, the Dane beginning his final qualifying run on Saturday on a drying track on wet tyres rather than the appropriate intermediates, and fell backwards in the race after a long opening stint on supersoft tyres had him inside the top 10 as others around him pitted.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat:
qualified 12th, finished 16th
Carlos Sainz: qualified 6th, finished 8th
Sainz continues to impress, a season-best qualifying on Saturday after he’d struggled badly in third practice a pleasant surprise, and his cool head in finishing eighth for the fourth time this season most definitely not. The Spaniard spent most of the race in close proximity to compatriot Alonso, finishing just 3.4 seconds behind the McLaren driver after 70 laps, and jumped inside the top 10 in the drivers’ standings. Kvyat’s weekend unravelled when he was erroneously released into traffic as he attempted his final lap in Q2 on Saturday, and any chance of a top-10 finish went up in smoke when he was hit with a five-second penalty for speeding in the pit lane during his first pit stop. Second place in Budapest 12 months ago must seem like a very long time ago for the Russian.

Felipe Nasr:
qualified 16th, finished 17th
Marcus Ericsson: qualified 20th, finished 20th
Nasr was one of the standouts in Q1 on Saturday, standing atop the timesheets for a time in the heavy rain, and the Brazilian made Q2 for the third time this year. Teammate Ericsson crashed in Q1 and caused one of the four red flags, and was forced to start from the pit lane in a new chassis for the second race in a row after his big shunt at Silverstone a fortnight previously. While neither driver looked likely to trouble the scorers in the race, Sauber’s troubled financial future was at least given some clarity ahead of the Hungarian round, with Swiss financial investments company Longbow Finance taking over the ownership of the team. Team principal and CEO Monisha Kaltenborn will stay on, while the team’s name – first seen in F1 in 1993 – will remain intact.

Jenson Button:
qualified 8th, did not finish
Fernando Alonso: qualified 7th, finished 7th
Both Button and Alonso made it to Q3, the first time the team has had both cars in the top 10 in qualifying in this latest chapter in the McLaren-Honda partnership, but that was as good as it got for Button, whose race unravelled on lap five with a hydraulics issue that played havoc with his brakes, a controversial drive-through penalty for unauthorised radio communication while attempting to address the problem, and then a retirement eight laps from home with an oil leak. As for Alonso, his first points since Monaco five races ago came after a weekend of metronomic consistency …

Pascal Wehrlein:
qualified 21st, finished 19th
Rio Haryanto: qualified 22nd, finished 21st
Was Sunday Haryanto’s final Grand Prix? The Indonesian finished 21st and last of the classified runners after a heavy crash 24 hours earlier had caused the fourth red flag of a marathon qualifying session, and came on a weekend where there was plenty of paddock chatter that a funding shortfall could see McLaren test driver Stoffel Vandoorne take over from the rookie sooner rather than later. Teammate Wehrlein started a spot ahead of Haryanto, managed to beat the Sauber of Ericsson, and finished more than half a minute ahead of the man in the sister car – for now at least.

Romain Grosjean:
qualified 11th, finished 14th
Esteban Gutierrez: qualified 15th, finished 13th
Grosjean so very nearly found himself back in Q3 for the first time since round two in Bahrain, missing out by one-tenth of a second on Saturday, while teammate Gutierrez was 1.2secs and four places further back. The Frenchman put the brakes on Raikkonen’s charge in the early stages with some spirited defence before fading, while Gutierrez earned the ire of race-leader Hamilton – and an angry hand gesture from the world champion – when he was being lapped late in the race, Gutierrez hit with a five-second time penalty after the chequered flag fell that dropped him behind Palmer’s Renault.


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