It is okay to admit it. You’ve desperately missed Formula 1 these past couple of weeks. Summer break is hard on all of us, but there is no better way to get the petrol flowing again than with a race recap. If you don’t remember, the last race was the Hungarian GP. The staff’s token Hungarians, Andor and Janos, could barely contain their excitement. But enough about them. Let’s dive back into one of the most eventful races of the year so far.
The excitement began on Saturday. Ferrari has been turning in extremely promising performances this year, but it was a little surprising to see Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikonnen secure the top two qualifying positions, locking out the front row. Mercedes, the dominant force three years running, locked out the second row, Red Bull locked out the third row, and McLaren locking out the fourth row of the grid. Yes, you read that correctly. McLaren inside the top ten. I suppose lock outs were the theme of Saturday’s qualifying session, but the organized starting grid wasn’t meant to last. Lights out. Time to bring the action.
As the field of car dove into the first corner of the Hungaroring, the Ferraris had a firm grasp on the top two spots, but the Mercedes were battling the aggressive Red Bulls. Despite Verstappen running wide in turn one, both Red Bulls pulled past Lewis Hamilton. Heading into turn three, however, disaster struck. Verstappen took too much speed into the corner and smashed into the side of his teammate. Ricciardo was only able to continue for a few hundred yards before his car gave out. His day over, a disappointed and frustrated Ricciardo immediately took to the team radio to call Verstappen a “sore loser.” The safety car was called out and the drivers settled into a comfortable pace. Vettel, Raikonnen, Bottas, Verstappen and Hamilton rounded out the top five.
Fast forward to lap 22. Except for Verstappen serving a 10 second penalty, not much had changed in the race standings. But the chaos was about to begin. Despite running comfortably in first, Vettel radioed into the Ferrari pit wall declaring he had an issue. His car’s steering was hanging left and he was losing time slowly but surely. Ferrari, without a clear solution, told their driver to “keep at it” and avoid the curbing. Mercedes, meanwhile, smelled blood in the water. Kimi, seeing the writing on the wall, began to demand that Vettel speed up or that he be allowed to pass his teammate. Ferrari had a choice to make. Do you let Raikonnen pass to ensure top spot on the podium or do you risk Hamilton passing both Ferraris in an attempt to keep Vettel in first? Just as Mercedes was organizing their attack, Hamilton’s radio cutout. Despite being the fastest car on track, Lewis couldn’t communicate with the team to either push Bottas’ pace or let him past Bottas for a chance to fight the Ferraris. With enough engineers to fly a small rocket, Mercedes fixed the problem and issued the controversial orders for Bottas to let Hamilton pass. Hamilton would have his shot at the Ferraris and if he couldn’t pass, he would have to yield his position back to Bottas. Giddy up.
The top three cars converged. Vettel continued to struggle with his steering, Kimi had Hamilton breathing down his neck and Lewis was pushing like hell. The drama continued for a few laps but alas, it wasn’t Mercedes’ day. Hamilton’s tyres had suffered from pushing up the field and the Hungaroring offered limited spots to pass. Ferrari’s gamble had paid off. They took home the top two spots while also securing maximum points for Vettel, their World Championship contender. The drama wasn’t over for Mercedes however. Heading into the final turn, Hamilton slowed down to let Bottas back into third place. It was an excellent display of sportsmanship on Hamilton’s behalf but one that he could come to regret. The three championship points that separate third and fourth place may not seem like a lot, but we should wait until Novermber’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to make that call.
Some other fun tidbits from the Hungarian GP:
- Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg had an on-track incident that lead to a heated exchange after the race. Magnussen may have won the spat with his “suck my balls” line.
- Snaps for Fernando Alonso. He registered the fastest lap in the closing laps of the race. Maybe there is life in that Honda engine after all.
- Vettel now has a 14-point lead in the Drivers’ World Championship. It looks like the championship is going to come down to the final race of the year.