Picture: Mercedes AMG Petronas F1
After a very lengthy, slippery & extremely soggy qualifying session on Saturday afternoon; thanks to a massive thundery downpour, we were left on Sunday with a bright hot summer’s day that beckoned 22 Formula One cars to get racing and do battle.
With the heating building prior to the start of the race and track tempretures exceeding 50C, it was clear looking after the tyres was going to be a key part of the afternoon ahead.
Prior to the start of the race Felipe Massa’s Williams was having steering rack issues which almost left him out of the race, but luckily the Brazilian took his place on the grid after the mechanics managed to solve the problem and have him race prepared.
As the lights went out both Mercedes got very average starts, the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen were keen to pounce on any mistakes made by the Mercedes cars. Heading into turn one Hamilton had to defend from Ricciardo and took the lead, on the exit and into turn two Ricciardo tried to fight Hamilton back but eventually lost out to Rosberg and had to tuck into third.
Max Verstappen managed to keep ahead of the fast starting Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen; but would soon face the pressure of the prancing horse later on.
In the early laps Jenson Button had an issue with his brakes and hydraulic system, due to the pit communication rules he had to tour through the pits in order to solve the problem. Unfortunately his engineer told him over the radio some specific solutions he shouldn’t have done and this led to a drive through penalty for McLaren driver.
As the first pit stops cycled through, it was clear Mercedes could still make a gap to Red Bull and have that performance advantage, unfortunately for Max Verstappen after he made his stop he found himself fighting with Kimi Raikkonen for the remainder of the race. For the first part of the battle it meant having to attack Raikkonen as the Finn was running an alternate strategy starting on the yellow marked soft tyre.
At this stage of the race Hamilton was losing time to Rosberg and at first it was unclear why, it turns out that he was trying to nurse his power unit without taking too much out if it knowing he needs to make it last as long as possible. This did irk the team slightly by asking him to pick up the pace because of proximity of Ricciardo to Rosberg, this included a threat to stop his team mate first.
The second stops passed by and it was looking as if Renault’s Jolyon Palmer was going to score his first F1 points finish after a very unfortunate first half of the season, again his luck found him after spinning at turn four and the points opportunity slipped from his grasp, it’s still unknown if it was driver error or a electronics issue that caused the spin.
As the battle at the front was hotting up when Ricciardo made his second stop earlier than the Mercedes drivers and was storming towards them at a fast rate of knots, but it turned out Red Bull jumped the gun as Mercedes stopped nearly ten laps later.
When Raikkonen made his second stop, he managed to find himself behind Verstappen and led to a great battle between the two towards the end of the race.
Traffic is always an issue at the Hungaroring and this race was no exception, Hamilton found himself stuck behind the Haas of Esteban Guttierez for a fair amount of the lap at one point and Rosberg managed to close massively. As Hamilton passed the Mexican. The Brit did give him the international sign of approval; it’s a shame to see this happen but this is what can manifest when tensions run high at the highest level of sport.
The final laps proved frustrating for Raikkonen as he couldn’t utilise his fresher tyres to pass Verstappen, this led to many close calls and and unfortunate coming together in turn two and Raikkonen losing a significant portion of his front wing, this didn’t stop the battle mind you, it went down to the final corner in which Verstappen took the flag in fifth ahead of the Finn.
It wasn’t the most thrilling race we’ve all witnessed admittedly, however it still didn’t disappoint. Lewis Hamilton put on a measured and professional performance to take the lead in the championship in 2016, he also clocked up the 48th win of his career which leaves him three behind four time champion Alain Prost.
It’s just 5 days until the drivers back in their cars for the returning German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. So not very long for you all to get your next F1 fix!