It is said by many, including myself, that the Hungarian Grand Prix was the most exciting race of the season so far. Whether it was the non-Mercedes podium, or the unusual set of results, I’m sure it is agreed- it was a thrilling race.
It was Sebastian Vettel who toke home 1st place, after a set of consistent and fast laps kept him at the front of the pack. Vettel dedicated his win to the recently deceased Jules Bianchi, who died last Friday after a crash in October put him in a coma, who spoke over the radio on his slowing lap :
“Merci Jules. Cette victorie est pour toi.”
(Thank you Jules. This victory is for you.)
Daniil Kvyat brought home his first podium during his career, as he finished 2nd, after Vettel, and Daniel Riccardo finished third, despite a collision with Lewis Hamilton earlier in the race. However, if it were not for the collision, and being caught up with Nico Rosberg in the final stages of the race, involving light contact, Riccardo believes that he could’ve taken home a victory in Hungary, for the second year running, after a victory at the Hungaroring last year. This view is shared by many- he had a combination of luck with the intervention of the safety car, a strategy that allowed him to use new soft tyres for the final section of the race.
McLaren driver Fernando Alsonso, who finished 5th at Hungary, described the event as a ‘little present’, after a string of unfortunate results with the team. He has been forced to retire from five out of the nine races since the season begun.
However, many drivers, and indeed teams did not receive this good fortune in Hungary on that hot afternoon. Nico Hulkenburg had a front wing failure, causing him to crash forcefully into a barrier. He explained that he “felt some vibrations and suddenly the wheels lost contact with the ground. You can’t decelerate, can’t brake properly, can’t turn, and I just went straight off into the barrier.”
After fighting for position with Daniel Riccardo, Nico Rosberg shredded a rear tyre on lap 64. Rosberg was in 2nd place at the time of the incident, but had to make do with 8th place at the finish of the race, 2 places after team-mate Lewis Hamiltion. “It’s a big disappointment, this can be a tough sport sometimes.” said Rosberg after the race.
It was also a disappointing race for 2014 World Champion, Lewis Hamilton. A series of mistakes led to Hamilton coming in at 6th place, after a dominant poll position led everyone to believe that the Mercedes would fly around the track, and would gain the team another victory. “We just had another crappy start, which was the root cause of all the other stuff that came afterwards,” said Toto Wolff, Mercedes executive director. Mercedes have started all 10 races so far this season on poll, won 8, but this was the first time this year that there turned out to be a non-Mercedes poll. The two Ferrari’s, driven by Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, sped past Hamilton and Rosberg at the start of the race, just as the Williams had at Silverstone, at the British Grand Prix. “We need to get on top of the situation. It is not acceptable and it needs to be analysed why it happened. It is many various reasons, not one particular one” reported Wolff. Hamilton had hit wheels wit Rosberg, skidded across the gravel, collided with Daniel Riccardo and received a drive-through penalty. Hamilton, however, received his mistakes in good spirit: ” I just have to laugh at today, laugh at myself. When you make wrong decisions or make a fool of yourself sometimes, you just have to laugh it off.”
“Considering how bad it was, the one thing I can take in my heart is I never gave up. I never threw my toys out of the pram and thought ‘this is over’.”
After a flourishing start, quickly claiming second place after a start in 5th behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen did not complete the race at all; he had to retire with 28 laps to go after a series of problems involving the engines MGU-K, and although Ferrari attempted to fix it, it then led on to other problems, forcing the retirement of the Finn that that day. It was Raikkonen’s third retirement of the season, and comes at a time where his future with F1 is in speculation, as Ferrari decide whether or not to keep him for another season. Raikkonen said ” We’ve had bad races, that is one more. Obviously it would have been much greater for the team to have a one-two, but as a team we still won with Seb so it is good for the team. It was a pain for us not to be one and two because we easily had the speed and everything was there, we just got done by a problem with the car. ”
“Unfortunately that’s part of the luck for us and part of the business and part of the racing and there is nothing we could do. The car went wrong but we did the maximum level we could at the end of the day.” Raikkonen is now 86 points behind Vettel, but he is still hopeful things will get better after the summer break with the Belgium Grand Prix at Spa next month. “We showed that we can do a great result, great races, but we just have to make sure we don’t have any issues in part of the weekend.”
It was a disappointing race for Williams Formula 1 team. The cars were not expected to do well on twisty track at Hungary, which was proven after both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, drivers for the team, failed to gain points in the tight streets of Monaco. After running one-two in the opening stint at Silverstone, it was a let-down to find themselves out of the point with Massa finising 12th and Bottas at 13th at Hungaroring. “The pace was really, really bad, I don’t know why” reported Massa, “We were slow, especially me, behind in the traffic, especially with the prime tyres. I couldn’t drive at all, we were missing the overall grip on the car. I think maybe the best stint was the last one when I was free with the option [soft] tyres but even like that I was not quick. I was struggling a lot with the pace and not good at all.” However, the concern for Rob Smedley, Williams performance chief, was the drop in form between qualifying (where Bottas and Massa started 6th and 8th) and the race. Massa remains hopeful that the performance of the team was a one-off, and Williams will be back up there at Spa. “I’m 100 percent confident [it was a one-off]”, he said, “What happened I don’t think we will see in every race.”
So, whether or not you are dissapointed with the performance of Mercedes and Williams, or pleased for Vettel and Red Bull, it is agreed- Hungary on the 26th July 2015 was a fantastic race.