MIxed fortune for sixth place Hamilton

By Ryan Moran

  • Vettel takes victory, Kvyat 2nd, Ricciardo 3rd.
  • Vettel pays tribute to Jules Bianchi on victory lap.
  • Hamilton has nightmare first lap.

HUNGARORING, BUDAPEST – Sebastian Vettel maintains pole from first lap to the last in an emotional Hungarian Grand Prix full of mixed fortunes for Great Britain’s Lewis Hamilton.

It was a race weekend marred by the tragic death of Jules Bianchi, who lost his fight against the injuries suffered last year at the Japanese grand prix. Before proceedings kicked off on race day, the world of Formula one paid tribute to the Frenchman with a minutes silence with Bianchi’s family watch on. (Credit Niall Clarke)

After dominating qualifying Hamilton went into the race as favourite and having gained pole position he was in the right place to ensure the victory. The race was in fact delayed due to Felipe Massa being out of position causing a yellow flag and an extra lap before the start of the race. However a smart piece of driving by the Ferrari team saw Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen take Hamilton round the first corner with the German going round the outside.

If losing pole wasn’t enough for the Brit, dropping to tenth place round the chicane would not have been part of his or Mercedes’ plans to win his fifth Hungaroring grand prix. Too much understeer round the chicane caused Hamilton to go straight onto the gravel and spread this onto the track, still visible at the end of the race. This was in fact the third time the championship leader had been in pole position at the start of the race and failed to maintain it.

Ferrari kept hold of a 1-2 for most of the race, and developed a large gap between themselves and the chasing pack of Nico Rosberg, Daniel Ricciardo and Hamilton. The Brit managed to recover from his nightmare start to achieve fifth place and put himself in position to close the gap on Ricciardo. Hamilton gave himself a big enough gap between himself and Valtteri Bottas to pit and cleverly force the Fin wide to hold the inside line and maintain his position. This was Hamilton’s platform to close on Ricciardo and use the extra power of his Mercedes down the straight to overtake on lap 29 down the outside, the Red Bull driver braking late to prevent the overtake was unsuccessful.

In a race full of collisions and crashes, Nico Hulkenburg was the first to fall with his front wing going underneath his car as a result losing control and smashing into the barrier turn one. This debris from Hulkenburg’s car was the turning point in the race with a safety car being deployed. The bunch up of cars as a result was the turn in fortune Hamilton needed after his start. Lap 48 was the lap that was the difference with the Brit unable to take advantage of the safety car, locking up into turn one losing his wing in a collision with Ricciardo earning himself a drive through as a penalty. Hamilton’s loss was  Daniel Kvyat’s gain making his way up to fifth behind fourth placed Ricciardo. Next in the firing line was Raikkonen, after losing out to Rosberg on lap 48, a lack of power resulted in a pit stop with the car needing an injection of power. This was to no prevail with the Ferrari driver having to retire as a result missing out on his eighth podium finish in Hungary.

For Mercedes, this was a day to forget with Rosberg colliding with Ricciardo, resulting in a punctured tyre and a forced pit stop and ninith place awaiting him on the exit of the pits. Kvyat was once again the beneficiary, making his first podium finish of second, behind Vettel and in front of Ricciardo.

Of the other Brits, Jenson Button managed a ninth placed finish from 16th in qualifying while Will Stevens gained four places, finishing in an eventual 16th the last of the finishers.

It was somewhat fitting that Ferrari would claim victory on a race weekend attributed to the memory of Bianchi, who was slated to drive for the Italian based team in the near future. Post race tributes to Bianchi flooded in, with Vettel dedicating victory to the Frenchman.

“It is an incredible day, but this victory is for Jules. It has been an incredibly tough week and for all of us it has been very difficult,” said the race winner on the Podium. “I think everyone at Ferrari knows sooner or later he would have been part of this team.”

Second placed Kvyat added in his post race interview:

“It’s been a very tough year, race, everything, but I think the team deserved this podium. But this podium goes to Jules Bianchi and his family – we lost a great guy and a great driver.”

Meanwhile, Hamilton admitted post race that it was not his best performance of the season, claimning he ‘made mistakes all over the place’.

 “I was all over the place. I really don’t have any words to describe what happened. It was a really bad performance from me.” Hamilton told BBC SPORT

“I don’t know if it was a lack of concentration or what.

“I pushed right to the end but there were so many obstacles. It’s like there were two different directions and each time I chose the wrong one.

“I have to go away from this, take breather and come back in Spa.”

Formula 1 continues next week when Hamilton, Button and Stevens take to Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium from the 21st to 23rd August.

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