FERRARI FIGHT BACK IN BUDAPEST
Vettel steers the Scuderia to a second 1-2 as Mercedes play team games
1st SEBASTIAN VETTEL Ferrari
2nd KIMI RAIKKONEN Ferrari
3rd VALTTERI BOTTAS Mercedes
On the hot, tight and twisty Hungaroring, Ferrari and Vettel rekindled their ebbing championship fortunes. Locking-out the front row on a circuit notoriously difficult for overtaking, only Vettel’s askew steering wheel caused doubt over the outcome. Avoiding the kerbs so the problem wouldn’t worsen, Vettel won by 0.908s from his faster, and plainly frustrated team-mate. Ferrari dominance was only challenged once Mercedes instructed Bottas to let the faster Hamilton past on lap 46. Lewis quickly closed the 2-3s gap to Räikkönen but a pass never looked likely, the top-3 running in close company over the final laps. Until the last, that is, when Hamilton slowed to allow Bottas to catch up the 8s gap and re-pass at the final corner, so honouring his agreement to return P3 if he failed to pass Kimi. The swop was made trickier because Verstappen on fresher rubber was closing on Bottas rapidly. For a high-downforce circuit that suits them, Red Bull brought a near ‘B-spec’ car and on Friday threatened to make it a three-way fight. Ultimately they occupied row three on the two-by-two grid, then collided on the opening lap, Ricciardo eliminated, Verstappen penalised 10s. Despite the penalty, a long first stint enabled Max to challenge Mercedes at the flag, albeit in a race slowed by Vettel’s ailments. Best of the rest and fastest lap went to Alonso, McLaren-Honda scoring double points for the first time. After four seasons and 70 races away, Paul Di Resta subbed for unwell Massa at Williams.
A communications meltdown compromised Mercedes’ race strategy, but in reality Vettel would have walked this race without the steering issue. Over what is so far a hit-or-miss season, Hamilton may yet rue the 3-points he conceded in Hungary in the name of team spirit. Neither contender has enjoyed a winning streak as yet, Vettel’s 14-point lead into the summer break achieved both through consistency and, in sharp contrast to Mercedes, a Ferrari policy patently backing one driver.
The Championship Chase
Vettel 202, Hamilton 188, Bottas 169, Ricciardo 117, Räikkönen 116
Mercedes 357, Ferrari 318, Red Bull 184, Force India 101, Williams 41
Formula 1 All the Races