Hamilton a poor pacemaker, Red Bull and Ferrari battle it out. Welcome to Hungaroring.
For 30 years straight Hungary has held a Grand Prix. 2015 brought us a race of sheer chaos where I spent most of the time trying to work out what an earth was going on. This race brought victory to Vettel. Unfortunately this was the first race since Bianchi’s death, dedications were written on drivers helmets along with a minutes silence, a sight we pray will never be witnessed again in motorsport.
Hungary 2016 started with the 1 point difference between Hamilton and Rosberg, a very tight championship whereby the leader can change at any race.
Qualifying was a sheer wash out with downpour of rain which caused huge delays. Teams and drivers had to tactically time when to take flying laps due to the uncertainty of the weather. We saw a few spins from the likes of Massa where the water logged track caused some awkward pre race surprises.
Unfortunately qualifying didn’t provide us with any interesting positions at the front of the grid the usual Pole Rosberg, P2 Hamilton, P3 Ricciardo and P4 Verstappen. The only unusual site was to see both Mclarens in the top ten Alonso in P7 with Button closely behind him in P8 (have they finally sorted out those Honda Engines)?
The first lap brought us the invasion of the Red Bulls on the first corner any Mercedes fan would have been holding their breath. Hamilton manages to jump in the lead even though the Red Bulls were literally by his side. Rosberg manages to get to P2.
The grid for the first couple of laps consisted of P1 Hamilton, P2 Rosberg, P3 Ricciardo, P4 Verstappen, P5, Vettel, P6 Alonso. Definitely six men you would not want behind you in a race.
Just when you thought things were going so well by Lap 5 Button has a problem. Over the radio he mentions his pedal is going through the floor. His team mate Alonso still sticking with it in P6 Button sadly starts to drop places but is told by his team to stay out.
A different story for Raikkonen who is fighting the field stuck in P11 due to bad planning during qualifying he is attacking hard to work his way through that grid. Bear in mind Hungary is a challenging circuit to overtake.
Button pits on Lap 8 by Lap 9 his radio communication by the team informing him to stay out is under investigation. Rules were implemented were drivers must race alone and unaided. By Lap 10 we see a drive through pit lane penalty for Button he is not a happy chap and what deemed a potentially positive race for him has now been ruined.
Lap 15 brings a pit stop for Vettel who comes out in front of Raikkonen who is getting through the grid in P9
Hamilton in P1 pits on Lap 17 followed by Rosberg P2 on Lap 18 both do not lose position. At the same time Verstappen pits returning to the track in P6 now taking on Raikkonen in P5. We see a battle of the young vs old. Although it will be tough for anybody to fight a young testosterone filled 18 year old boy, can the vintage Raikkonen keep up? By Lap 18 it proves he can and we see a fight between both drivers.
Lap 20 and Hamilton is struggling with the pace, Rosberg is catching him. Ricciardo in P3 by Lap 22 is a second quicker than both Mercedes boys. By Lap 23 the Ferrari’s are catching up too. Mercedes confirm there is nothing wrong with their cars, why did they loose pace?
Hamilton by Lap 25 is told over the team radio to pick up the pace, he is obviously trying but it isn’t fast enough! Rosberg and Ricciardo closing down on the leader is Hamilton started to hold the grid up?
Kvyat on Lap 27 is investigated for speeding in the pit lane. A rookie mistake made by somebody whose misfortunes seem to be spiralling this year. A lap later he is handed a five second time penalty.
Finally! Lap 28 Hamilton has picked it up and the lead starts to extend.
The ongoing fight between Raikkonen and Verstappen continues until Raikkonen pits on Lap 30 re-joining just behind Alonso who is in P6. A tough day for Raikkonen who if not fighting the young Verstappen who will not let anybody past to then have to fight fellow world champion Alonso who may not have the best car, he is still deemed one of the best drivers.
It happens again on Lap 33 Hamilton’s team radio telling him he must get faster (a vision of Jeff Goldblum appears in my mind from Jurassic Park “must go faster, must go faster” or that T-Rex of Rosberg is going to eat him)!
Ricciardo pits on Lap 34 joining the race back in P5 and the gap has finally opened between Hamilton and Rosberg.
At this point the top three consist of a struggling pacemaker Hamilton in P1, Rosberg P2 and Vettel in P3.
Hamilton pits on Lap 42, followed by Rosberg a lap later both keep their grid positions.
An error made at the same time by Force India who were clearly not ready for Perez in P14 to pit, a lot of time lost there. He states his dissatisfaction over the radio why weren’t they ready for him?
By Lap 45 the track positions stand at P1 Hamilton, P2 Rosberg, P3 Ricciardo, P4 Raikkonen, P5 Vettel, P6 Verstappen. Raikkonen the only driver to have pitted once while the others have completed their second pit stop.
We see a spin from Palmer who was in P10 about to gain a point, he sadly drops down to P13.
Raikkonen takes his second pit stop on Lap 51 returns back into P6.
Gutierrez a constant back runner is blue flagged on Lap 52 he clearly holds Hamilton up who provides him with “the bird”. Gutierrez’s poor move taken under investigation leading to a five second penalty and definitely taken off Hamilton’s Christmas card list.
Both Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s are attacking each other, again Raikkonen P6 is trying to get past young Verstappen who has clearly defending aggressively. No surprise when on Lap 57 there is contact Raikkonen hits the back of Verstappen’s car luckily with limited damage and they still battle on.
A sad day for Button today after everything has gone wrong for him he retires his car with an oil leak.
It’s still full throttle for Raikkonen and Verstappen, Raikkonen just can’t get past. A last major attempt on Lap 68 for the Finn but with no joy.
Vettel in the closing stages of the race is catching Ricciardo in P3. The Ferrari’s and Red Bulls looked well matched.
By the last lap we still see the constant fight between Raikkonen P6 and Verstappen P5, along with Vettel in P4 and Ricciardo in P3. Both Mercedes fully out of any wheel to wheel action.
Hamilton takes his 5th win at the Hungarian Grand Prix smashing Schumacher’s record of 4 wins.
Race results are Hamilton P1, Rosberg P2, Ricciardo P3, Vettel P4, Verstappen P5 followed very closely by Raikkonen in P6. And an amazing result for Mclaren Alonso brings the car home in P7. Hamilton now leads the championship by 6 points.
Hungary brought us some amazing fights and showed that the Ferrari’s and Red Bull’s are getting faster. As the season goes on will they improve even more giving the Mercedes a run for their money?
We must highlight the amazing drive from Verstappen who defended his position throughout the whole race and the sheer determination from Raikkonen who just doesn’t give up.
Claire’s Rating Roundup
Claire’s Driver of the day
Raikkonen who started in P11 and fought his way to finish P6 with the constant battle with Verstappen. Don’t forget Hungary is a difficult circuit to overtake on.
Claire’s unlucky driver of the day
Button need I say no more, Alonso did well if it wasn’t for issues with his car I am confident Button would have finished in the top 10.
Claire’s worst driver of the day
Gutierrez needs to review his flags, if you are being lapped get out of the way!!!
Next race Germany the home of Vettel and Rosberg, will they be delivering a dream finish for their home race? Will Hamilton work on his pace? Or will Gutierrez just hold everybody up as he plods along?
Get your Bratwursts ready!