In one of the most chaotic races in recent memory, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel kept his cool to win the Hungarian GP. Defending world champion Lewis Hamilton did his best to beat himself after excellent qualifying performance at the Hungaroring circuit. It looked like a race day from few years back, when the Ferraris and Red Bulls came in focus with Mercedes dominance taking a back seat. Hamilton started with a dominant pole position and mostly raced like a rookie rather than the two-time world champion. Not to be outdone, Hamilton’s teammate Nico Rosberg also had a horrible race. With the chequrerd flag not far away, Rosberg collided with Red Bulls’ Daniel Ricciardo and after sustaining a tyre puncture finished eighth to Hamilton’s sixth. Meanwhile, on such a dramatic day, Sebastian Vettel kept his nose in front like he used to do a couple of years ago. He absorbed the pressure pretty well as others faltered. His teammate Kimi Raikkonen also looked like taking the podium but a mechanical failure deprived him that. Vettel had the company of two Red Bull drivers; Daniil Kvyat and Ricciardo on the podium. For the Ferrari bosses, it was a day reminiscent of the glorious times, when Michael Schmacher sat behind the wheel in pomp, race after race. Vettel made the victory moment poignant by dedicating his title to the departed Marussia driver Jules Bianchi, who died 10 days ago. The Hungarian GP was the first F1 event since Bianchi’s unfortunate demise.
The Hungarian GP turned out to be an extraordinary race with an extraordinary finish. Lewis Hamilton was supremely dominant in qualifying and so was Rosberg, who finished a little more than half a second behind. At third place in qualifying, Vettel had a close edge on Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. But Hamilton looked untouchable in all qualifying sessions. Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen was fifth ahead of Williams’s Valtteri Bottas and Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat. Bottas’ teammate Felipe Massa was eighth, Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen ninth and Lotus’s Romain Grosjean finished tenth.
On race day, the two Mercedes drivers were expected to repeat their show in the qualifying sessions but the huge expectations turned into unmitigated disaster for the Silver Arrows. The race was shortened to 69 laps from the original 70 because the first start was aborted, when Williams driver Felipe Massa was out of position on the grid. When the race began, Hamilton began with running away from the track and dropped to the 10th place in the first lap itself. Later, Hamilton collected a drive-through penalty for a collision with Ricciardo. After such a dreadful show, the Briton still managed to finish sixth. Hamilton’s teammate, Nico Rosberg fared better and he looked like taking the second place but he had a collision with Ricciardo at Turn 1. The stewards termed it as racing incident but Rosberg’s had a left-rear puncture, which dropped the German to the eighth place at finish.
With Hamilton out of the way, Vettel jumped into the lead from the start. His Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen was in close pursuit after passing Rosberg at Turn 2. By lap 35, Vettel still led Raikkonen by eight seconds with Rosberg at third place. By this time, Hamilton had climbed back to fourth spot by his driving efforts but he trailed Vettel by 14 seconds. But the drama was not over at the Hungaroring circuit. On 42nd lap, the front wing of Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India sheared off. The flying debris blocked a large area. While Hamilton and Rosberg pitted immediately, Vettel and Raikkonen did another lap. As for Hulkenberg, he careened at high speed into the tyre wall missing Valtteri Bottas’s Williams by a whisker. Fortunately, Hulkenberg climbed out of the wreckage unharmed but definitely shaken. There was too much debris to be cleared away and the race stopped. By this time, Raikkonen’s machine had already become defunct and his healthy advantage over Rosberg wiped out. Not only that, Raikkonen became a sitting duck and he was passed by many drivers. Finally, Ferrari decided to retire him in a cruel end to a promising start.
After restart, Vettel had to work hard in the final stages though he was severely challenged by Rosberg. He kept more than a second’s gap and only in lap 53, the gap came down to 0.8s. Then in the 64th lap, Rosberg and Ricciardo tangled, Rosberg had a tyre puncture and Vettel was rid of the pressure. Daniil Kvyat was close but Vettel drove serenely like old times and finished the winner. Behind Vettel anf Kvyat, Ricciardo had an eventful finish on the podium after his entanglement with both Hamilton and Rosberg. Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen was fourth, McLaren’s Fernando Alonso fifth, Hamilton sixth; Lotus’ Romain Grosjean seventh; Nico Rosberg eighth; McLaren’s Jenson Button ninth and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson took the tenth spot. However, Hamilton is still the driver’s championship leader with 202 points with Rosberg 21 points behind. Vettel is long way off with 160 points and only a miracle can win him the world championship this year. However, the switch from Red Bull to Ferrari in the 2015 season is helping Vettel.