After a rain hit qualifying that saw Lewis Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas snatch a front row start from the resurgent Ferrari brace of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, the Hungaroring saw tyre strategy and some brilliant driving bring Hamilton rewards, while Ferrari were not able to create enough overtaking opportunities to matter.
The start saw a charging Vettel try to outflank both Kimi and Bottas which saw the three come close to an incident, but it was Charles LeClerc who found himself out at the start becoming the filling in the Force India sandwich of Perez and Ocon. Carlos Sainz had managed a brilliant P5 on the grid and looked ready to build on it as he tried using the melee of the two front rows to leapfrog Raikkonen who was now in fourth at the first corner, only to have Max Verstappen in his Red Bull pull off a brilliant move ahead, causing Sainz to drop his Renault back to eighth.
His teammmate Daniel Ricciardo had started in the second half of the grid and an incident with Ericsson’s Sauber saw him effectively pushed back to 16th. But from that point he began to chase down the field, knocking them off in sequence at corner 1 and 2 of the circuit with the Red Bull’s extra power. However, Verstappen’s Renault engine failed on the Red Bull, leading to him pulling off on lap six and bringing out the virtual safety car and an expletive laden torrent from the 20-year old Dutchman on team radio.
Vettel did manage to lead the race eventually, with his strategy of starting on the yellow softs keeping him out on track while first Bottas and then Hamilton pitted to switch their softs to ultrasofts. When Vettel finally came in, his pit stop was slower than expected and that saw him come out behind Bottas. That wasn’t ideal as they were now in the second half of the race and all the leaders were now lapping slower traffic too.
It took a gentle nudge on team radio to move Vettel from his monotonous slipstreaming of Bottas to try to make a move. With Raikkonen running a close third and looking the faster of the two, Vettel just had to up the ante and it took a rather aggressive move by the German on lap 65 to get ahead of Bottas. In the process, he managed to clip the Finn’s front wing with his rear tyres, fortunately avoiding a puncture from the broken carbon fibre. In the event Raikkonen also pulled ahead of his fellow Finn.
Now the two Ferraris were able to try to corner Hamilton, but the 44 car had enough of a time buffer to stay ahead. The challenge was to take place further down the field with Ricciardo hunting Bottas down, leaving the Mercedes in a position where it clipped the Red Bull’s side. Eventually the damaged Red Bull pulled ahead, giving Ricciardo a valuable fourth place ahead of Bottas.
However, our award for best surprise of the day would have to go to Pierre Gasly in the Honda powered Toro Rosso who had not only grabbed a valuable P6 on the grid in qualifying, but held on to it at race end too.
With the summer break coming up on the pack, Lewis Hamilton said, ” The last two weekends have been such a blessing with the rain, I’m so grateful. The guys have worked so hard this year, they really deserve a good result. There’s still a lot of work to do because Ferrari are still slightly ahead of us, they had the pace this weekend, especially on this circuit. Today I had them covered, but had they been on pole, we would have struggled. So we’ve got some improvements to make in our overall package to try and close the gap to them, but I’m really happy with the job everyone’s done so far, we just have to keep going. The goal is now to really pull together and become even stronger for the second half. That will be key to add to what we’ve built in this first half of the season.”
Bottas, on the other hand wasn’t happy with his hard fought fifth place to start with and then took offense at Toto Wolff referring to him as Hamilton’s wingman. This was apparently sorted out and all seems calm with his stint with Mercedes.
The Force India team didn’t manage its usual fireworks as it raced under the news that it had gone into bankruptcy administration to sort out its financial mess. Hopefully the summer break will bring news of its impending takeover by billionaire Lance Stroll, though he hasn’t confirmed anything yet. That move will see a flurry of driver moves led by Lance Stroll taking Ocon’s slot at Force India.
2018 Formula 1 Drivers
|Car No||Name||Team||2018 season||2017 season|
|33||Max Verstappen||Red Bull Racing||216||168|
|3||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull Racing||146||200|
|11||Sergio Perez||Force India||57||100|
|31||Esteban Ocon||Force India||49||87|
|10||Pierre Gasly||Toro Rosso||29||0|
|28||Brendan Hartley||Toro Rosso||4||0|
2018 Formula 1 Teams
|Team||2018 season||2017 season|
|Red Bull Racing||362||368|
|Force India Mercedes||47||187|
|Toro Rosso Honda||33||53|
2018 Formula 1 Races
|Mexico||28/10/2018||Max Verstappen||Sebastian Vettel||Kimi Raikkonen|
|United States||21/10/2018||Kimi Raikkonen||Max Verstappen||Lewis Hamilton|
|Japan||07/10/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas||Max Verstappen|
|Russia||20/09/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas||Sebastian Vettel|
|Singapore||16/09/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Max Verstappen||Sebastian Vettel|
|Italy||02/09/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Kimi Raikkonen||Valtteri Bottas|
|Belgium||26/08/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton||Max Verstappen|
|Hungary||29/07/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Sebastian Vettel||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Germany||22/07/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Britain||08/07/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Austria||01/07/2018||Max Verstappen||Kimi Raikkonen||Sebastian Vettel|
|France||24/06/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Max Verstappen||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Canada||10/06/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Valtteri Bottas||Max Verstappen|
|Monaco||27/05/2018||Daniel Ricciardo||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton|
|Spain||13/05/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Valtteri Bottas||Max Verstappen|
|Azerbaijan||29/04/2018||Lewis Hamilton||Kimi Raikkonen||Sergio Perez|
|China||15/04/2018||Daniel Ricciardo||Valtteri Bottas||Kimi Raikkonen|
|Bahrain||04/04/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Valtteri Bottas||Lewis Hamilton|
|Australia||25/03/2018||Sebastian Vettel||Lewis Hamilton||Kimi Raikkonen|