Ricciardo Victorious In Enthralling Hungarian Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo took victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix this afternoon, in a race affected by rain, stopped by two Safety Cars, and with a myriad of race leaders. Ricciardo had gained the lead after the first Safety Car, but lost this lead when a crash for Perez prompted the Safety Car again. Alonso led the race from that point on, but Ricciardo was unstoppable and pulled two late overtakes, on Hamilton and Alonso, to secure his second Grand Prix victory.

The rain that was expected to interrupt the race arrived early, soaking the track about fourty-five minutes before lights out. The track was still wet at 2pm local time for the race start, so all drivers started on the green intermediate tyres. At lights out, Rosberg maintained his lead as the drivers behind him battled through the spray thrown up by the tyres. Valtteri Bottas started well, as per usual, and jumped second-placed Vettel into turn 1. The entire grid emerged unscathed from the first corner while Kevin Magnussen, Lewis Hamilton and Daniil Kvyat set off from the pitlane – Magnussen and Hamilton opting to start from the pit lane following qualifying, and Kvyat starting from the pitlane after getting stranded on the grid.

Nico Rosberg leads at the start (c) Red Bull/Getty Images

Hamilton was keen to start cutting his way through the grid, but with cold brakes on his Mercedes, he spun at turn 3 and dropped behind the grid. Back at the front, Rosberg was leading with a comfortable gap to Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel, who were sliding around in the slippy conditions.

Rosberg’s lead looked solid, and only set to increase dramatically, when Caterham’s Marcus Ericsson spun out of turn 3 and speared the barriers, destroying his car which swiveled to a halt on the side of the track. The Safety Car was deployed for the incident but Rosberg was too far past the pits to act on the news, meaning that those in the top four had to do another lap with reduced speed while the rest of the grid pitted for dry tyres. Thus, Daniel Ricciardo inherited the lead, ahead of Jenson Button on the inters tyres and Felipe Massa. Then, as the Safety Car was preparing to pit Romain Grosjean lost control of his Lotus in the same spot as Ericsson, hitting the barriers and spinning to a halt on the opposite side of the track. The Safety Car subsequently stayed out for longer as the wrecked Lotus was cleared away.

Second time around, Ricciardo led Button on the restart, but with the McLaren driver on the wet tyres, he swept clean past the Aussie and into the lead. But on the very next lap the tables were turned as Button was told that the expected rain would not materialise, and that he would need to pit soon. By the end of the second lap after the restart, his tyres were dead and Ricciardo had regained the lead.

Further down the order, the Force India duo were scrapping for position when Nico Hulkenberg locked up into the final corner and t-boned his team-mate, spinning himself out of the race. At the same time, Maldonado was getting too eager on the brakes and slid into Marussia’s Jules Bianchi, t-boning the Frenchman and spinning himself. Unlike Hulkenberg, however, the Venezuelan recovered his race and lived to fight another day.

Just as Hulkenberg’s car was cleared from turn 14, his team-mate spun out of the same corner and hit the barriers on the start/finish straight, throwing debris all over the track. Although Ricciardo had accumulated an impressive lead to this lead, his advantage was annihilated by the reappearance of the Safety Car. As Kobayashi parked his Caterham on the side of the track, the rest of the grid were led away by Fernando Alonso when the race restarted.

With the mixed-up order from two Safety Cars, Alonso now led the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne who was celebrating his fiftieth Grand Prix. The Frenchman was keen to keep his place on the podium and acted as a rolling roadblock for third placed Nico Rosberg who, incredibly, couldn’t find a way past the slower car. This allowed Sebastian Vettel to close up on the Mercedes, and was soon joined by Hamilton and Ricciardo who slotted in behind. The collection of race winners and Championship contenders behind Vergne didn’t faze him and he continued to lead the duo. Although Vergne didn’t make a mistake, Vettel spun out of the final corner as Rosberg pitted, mirroring Perez’s crash at the same spot. Luckily for Vettel, he missed the pitwall by inches, but unluckily for Rosberg, the spin had freed Hamilton.

Kimi Raikkonen fights with Pastor Maldonado (c) Scuderia Ferrari

Hamilton made short work of Vergne when given the chance, pulling a ballsy move on the Toro Rosso around the outside of turn 4. Meanwhile, Alonso pitted from the lead and Gutierrez became the sixth retirement of the race when he parked in his garage. Hamilton also pitted, and although he maintained his lead over Rosberg, a slow stop had put him behind Alonso. His position wasn’t solidified though, as his team began to radio him to let Rosberg through, as they were on different strategies. He consistently refused to, however, as Rosberg was not close enough behind him, meaning he would lose time to Alonso ahead of him if he slowed to let Nico through. Although Rosberg continued to ask why he wasn’t being let past, Mercedes eventually gave up trying to enforce their team order.

Ricciardo pitted from the lead of the race, and was soon followed in by Rosberg, who had still not passed his team-mate. Rosberg came out further down the order, but Ricciardo was flying on his fresh softer compound tyres and was catching Hamilton at an almost unbelievable pace. He was soon on the back of Hamilton who himself was up the gearbox of a struggling Alonso, but nobody could get past each other and Alonso maintained his lead.

After several laps of shutting down overtake attempts, Hamilton went wide at turn 1 and allowed Ricciardo to challenge him into turn 2. Pushing Ricciardo offline, Hamilton handed him the inside line for turn 3, where Ricciardo squeezed up the inside and up to second. With the faster Mercedes cleared, Daniel set his sights on the Ferrari ahead – breezing past him at the end of the pit straight. Ironically, he took the lead of the race with three laps remaining, as he did at the Canadian Grand Prix earlier this season.

Hamilton failed to get past Alonso, and Rosberg closed up on the rear of the the battle, leaving Alonso, Hamilton and Rosberg to cross the line with the smallest of gaps between them. It was fifth for Massa whose race wasn’t overly exciting, but will come as a welcome relief after three faultless retirements out of four races. Sebastian Vettel finished the race in seventh, but knows he could have placed much higher had he not spun on the straight. Jean-Eric Vergne marked his fiftieth Grand Prix with ninth place, while Valtteri Bottas rounded out the top ten.

As a result of the race, Hamilton has cut Rosberg’s lead in the Championship – an unbelievable feat given their respective qualifying performances. Now, the two must face a month with just their thoughts as F1 enters it’s one-month summer break. The next race is the Belgian Grand Prix on the 24th of August.

Hungarian Grand Prix Race Results:

  1. Daniel Ricciardo
  2. Fernando Alonso
  3. Lewis Hamilton
  4. Nico Rosberg
  5. Felipe Massa
  6. Kimi Raikkonen
  7. Sebastian Vettel
  8. Valtteri Bottas
  9. Jean-Eric Vergne
  10. Valtteri Bottas
  11. Adrian Sutil
  12. Kevin Magnussen
  13. Pastor Maldonado
  14. Daniil Kvyat
  15. Jules Bianchi
  16. Max Chilton
  • Esteban Gutierrez
  • Kamui Kobayashi
  • Sergio Perez
  • Nico Hulkenberg
  • Romain Grosjean
  • Marcus Ericsson
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