What happened at the Hungarian Grand Prix?

Sebastian Vettel heads a Ferrari 1-2 in Budapest, while friendly fire thwarts Red Bull’s chances of a podium on one of its strongest circuits of the year.


Lewis Hamilton: qualified 4th, finished 4th. Valtteri Bottas: qualified 3rd, finished 3rd.
If Formula One truly is a team sport – and there are some who will scoff at that suggestion – Mercedes played it perfectly at a track where the Silver Arrows were a clear second-best to the Prancing Horse. Bottas had the measure of teammate Hamilton for most of the weekend, and while the Finn was ahead of the Briton for much of the first half of the race, Hamilton was clearly the faster of the pair after their pit stops on lap 30 and 31 respectively. Hamilton was given the green light to move past his teammate in an attempt to go after Raikkonen in second, on the proviso that he was to let Bottas back past before the end of the race on lap 70 if he couldn’t make it work. Hamilton did his best to no avail, and as he rounded the final corner on the final lap, slowed sufficiently to let Bottas back through – and just kept a fast-finishing Verstappen at bay in the process. Mercedes better hope the three points Hamilton relinquished don’t cost him this year’s world championship by the time we get to Abu Dhabi in November … With Vettel’s victory, Hamilton now drops 14 points behind the German in the drivers’ standings – and Mercedes now knows, after a four-race run of outscoring Ferrari 151-79 after Monaco, that the red team is well and truly back in the fight.

Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo: qualified 6th, did not finish. Max Verstappen: qualified 5th, finished 5th.
At Silverstone last time out, both Toro Rosso drivers hit one another on lap one, but were able to continue. At Hungary, the senior Bull team’s pilots clashed on the first lap, but the result was more costly; Ricciardo, who had led both Friday practice sessions and was eyeing a fourth Hungarian podium in a row, was out three corners into the race, Verstappen understeering into the Australian at Turn 2 and puncturing Ricciardo’s radiator. It was the first time in Ricciardo’s 120-race career that he’d been eliminated on the first lap, and his normally beaming visage was replaced by a face of barely concealed rage and contempt. “That was amateur to say the least,” he fumed, adding “he (Verstappen) doesn’t like it when a teammate gets in front of him – it was a very poor mistake.” The race stewards were quick to apportion blame to the Dutchman, hitting him with a 10-second penalty in the pits when he made his one and only stop. Verstappen flew the longer the race went, the heavily-revised RB13 looking mighty on the Hungaroring’s twists and turns, but the damage had been done. Verstappen’s margin to the winner at the end was 13.276secs, showing that, with Vettel ailing out front and a rare weekend of Mercedes not being on top of its game, the team may have blown one of its best chances for a win to add to Ricciardo’s victory in Baku through friendly fire. After the race, Verstappen immediately put his hand up. “It’s not nice and I apologise to Daniel and the team for that,” he said. “We could’ve scored some really good points here …”.

Sebastian Vettel: qualified 1st, finished 1st. Kimi Raikkonen: qualified 2nd, finished 2nd.
When you lock out the front row in qualifying and take a 1-2 24 hours later, Ferrari’s Hungarian weekend looks stress-free on paper, but it was quite the opposite. Vettel was metronomically brilliant in qualifying, taking pole and producing two laps within 0.002secs of each other, but knew he was in trouble from the moment the lights went out in the race, the car’s steering wheel pointing slightly to the left when traveling in a straight line, prompting the team to advise him to keep off the kerbs as much as he could, a near-impossibility at a track that seemingly never stops turning. Raikkonen was in his teammate’s wheeltracks for the entire race, but didn’t get the answer he wanted when asking to be allowed to move ahead of Vettel’s clearly compromised sister car, and spent the back half of the race under massive pressure from Hamilton. The Finn – out of contract for 2018, remember – stayed where he was, and Ferrari recorded its second 1-2 for 2017 (after Monaco, where Raikkonen was similarly unhappy), and its first 1-2 finish in Hungary since 2004 (Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, the latter of whom could probably tell Raikkonen a few stories about being Ferrari’s second driver). For all that, it’s hard to fault Ferrari’s arithmetic, given Vettel is 86 points ahead of his teammate and that the title fight essentially boils down to a three-way fight with Hamilton and Bottas.

Force India
Sergio Perez: qualified 14th, finished 8th. Esteban Ocon: qualified 12th, finished 9th.
A double-points finish – Force India’s ninth in the first 11 races – looked very unlikely on Saturday, when neither Perez nor Ocon made the top 10 in qualifying, and the team was clearly struggling to get its Mercedes-powered chassis – so competitive on high-speed tracks – to work effectively on the tight Hungaroring layout. Perez made a strong start in the race and had the seemingly obligatory stoush with his teammate – this time on the opening lap – to be the better of the pink cars on the day, finishing nine seconds ahead of Ocon on what was a good salvage job for the team.

Paul Di Resta: qualified 19th, did not finish. Lance Stroll: qualified 17th, finished 14th.
With regular driver Felipe Massa ailing with an inner ear problem, Williams brought in Di Resta for his first race since Brazil 2013 with Force India, and the DTM driver and TV pundit’s first laps for the weekend were in qualifying, in a car he’d never driven on a circuit and only in the simulator, and with next to no notice before he was strapped in. In many ways, to qualify within seven-tenths of a second of teammate Stroll – and beating Ericsson’s Sauber to not be last on the grid – made the 31-year-old one of the stars of Saturday. Completing 70 laps of one of the most physical tracks on the calendar on a scorching Budapest summer’s day was never going to be easy, but Di Resta largely stayed out of trouble and drove a clean if not particularly quick race before being stopped by an oil leak eight laps from the end. Stroll got bottled up behind Kvyat’s Toro Rosso, which was on the more durable soft-compound Pirelli tyre, for much of the race, and could make little headway from a lowly grid spot.

Fernando Alonso: qualified 8th, finished 6th. Stoffel Vandoorne: qualified 9th, finished 10th.
It’s been a wretched year for everyone at McLaren-Honda, but Hungary shaped as a good race for the beleaguered team, the lack of straights that place a premium on sheer grunt a welcome relief for Alonso and Vandoorne. Both were instantly in the top 10 on Friday, qualified eighth and ninth on Saturday, and combined for nine points on Sunday, a huge haul considering the team had managed just two points in the first 10 races of the season. Alonso was the last car not to be lapped and, showing that there’s not a lot wrong with the McLaren chassis, set the fastest lap of the race (1min 20.182secs) on the penultimate tour. Vandoorne might have finished ahead of Ocon in ninth had it not been for a costly lap 42 pit stop when he over-shot his mechanics and caused them to scramble to change his tyres. At the end, he was just half a second behind the Force India.

Toro Rosso
Daniil Kvyat: qualified 13th, finished 11th. Carlos Sainz: qualified 10th, finished 7th.
Sainz came to Hungary in the midst of an unwanted run of outs – he’d had three non-finishes in the past four races – but came alive in Budapest, a superb 10th in qualifying coming as something of a surprise. The Spaniard had a heated battle with compatriot Alonso in the opening stages after the safety car period following Ricciardo’s retirement, and beating both Force India’s on merit was just reward for a stellar drive. Kvyat was penalised three grid positions for impeding Stroll in qualifying – the Russian now has 10 penalty points for a series of indiscretions over the past 12 months and is just two penalty points away from a one-race ban – and raced to 11th after trying an alternate tyre strategy from most of the rest of the field in an attempt to springboard into the points for the first time since Spain.

Romain Grosjean: qualified 12th, did not finish. Kevin Magnussen: qualified 16th, finished 13th.
Haas will be desperate to consign Hungary to the dustbin of history as soon as possible. Test driver Antonio Giovinazzi crashed Magnussen’s car on Friday morning, while Grosjean struggled with brakes and balance problems on a day team principal Gunther Steiner described as “brutal”. Magnussen was desperately unlucky in qualifying – his time of 1:19.095 was identical to that of Perez, but the Mexican advanced to Q2 as he’d recorded his time earlier than the Dane. In the race, a cross-threaded wheel nut did for Grosjean after he pitted on lap 22 with a slow puncture, while Magnussen was found to be at fault for shoving Hulkenberg’s Renault off the track at Turn 2 late in the race and had five seconds added to his race time, which dropped him from 11th on the road to 13th in the results. We’d tell you what he said to Hulkenberg afterwards, but perhaps Google can help you out there …

Jolyon Palmer: qualified 11th, finished 12th. Nico Hulkenberg: qualified 7th, finished 17th.
Palmer had the new floor fitted to his car that teammate Hulkenberg had used so effectively to claim sixth at Silverstone, and promptly destroyed it when he ran over the Turn 4 kerbs in opening practice. The under-pressure Briton then crashed at the final corner in second practice and buried the car in the barriers, missed Q3 by one-tenth of a second, and was out-qualified by Hulkenberg yet again – he’s now the only driver not to have beaten his teammate once in the 11 races to date. A long first stint didn’t pay off as his wait for 2017 points labours on. Hulkenberg clashed with Grosjean on the opening lap but looked like still scoring points despite being shunted back five spots on the grid for an unscheduled gearbox change, but a long pit stop caused by a sticking front-right tyre on lap 45 saw him drop to the back.

Marcus Ericsson: qualified 20th, finished 16th. Pascal Wehrlein: qualified 18th, finished 15th.
As has been custom in recent races, Sauber made more headlines off the track for anything it did on it, the recent Honda engine deal brokered by team principal Monisha Kaltenborn before her hasty departure ripped up in favour of continuing with Ferrari power next season. In the race, both drivers made very early pit stops (Ericsson lap one, Wehrlein lap three) under the safety car to try to do something different than the rest, but needed to pit again for fresh tyres and finished only ahead of Hulkenberg’s parked Renault after 70 laps.


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