Sebastian Vettel takes victory at the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix.
It was a crazy race in Budapest as a safety car, contact and poor starts mixed up the field. But one man stayed calm and claimed his second win of the year while Mercedes faltered and scrapped to salvage any points.
Going into race day, Hamilton had been dominating the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend with the fastest lap in every individual session. But topping first, second & third practice would be no help to Lewis when the race got underway. Instead he would have been hoping his qualifying success would aid him off the line and into turn one at a track where pole has not been key to victory.
Once again it seemed, this year would be another story of the pole man not taking victory when Lewis struggled to get off the line and became instantly swamped by Vettel and Rosberg. Barely an inch separated the Ferrari side pod and the wheel of Lewis’ Mercedes down the straight before the championship leader conceded the position under breaking and fell down to fourth.
Lewis’ start may have been better had the field not been forced into taking a second formation lap after preparing themselves for their launch. But thanks to Felipe Massa stopping short of his grid slot, the start of the race was aborted and he was punished with a five-second time penalty.
Nevertheless when the race got underway Ferrari rocketed off the line and with the pace into turn one, Kimi stuck his Ferrari down the outside to make the move on Lewis. With third place all his, Raikkonen then held the inside line into turn two to gain P2 from Rosberg as the German locked up and ran wide.
The start had flashbacks of Silverstone where Williams leapfrogged the Merc’s off the line to force them into third and fourth. But as the opening lap unfolded, the chance of Hamilton making up the positions and winning the race seemed more unlikely. Especially after Hamilton shot off the track at turn eight and bounced over the gravel all because he tried to brave an overtake on Rosberg, but instead he fell to tenth place. Lewis however felt he had to cut across the gravel as Rosberg made more than one defensive move on him.
No one in race control appeared to agree with Lewis though as no investigation came Nico’s way. Meaning Rosberg could stay with the leading Ferrari’s, even if they had pulled away slightly. But the gap between Hamilton and the Ferrari was increasing even more with Massa holding him up with every lap.
Eventually he did manage to make a move on Massa into turn one and soon take P8 from Perez at the same corner with DRS boosting the powerful Silver Arrow down the pit straight. And with the clean air upped his pace to match the Ferrari’s and eat into the gap as other drivers hit the pits.
While he set about catching Ricciardo for fourth, Kimi was once again suffering from his Ferrari being fragile on the hard curbs with the front right camera pod shooting off the car and alarming the Finn to greater damage. Luckily it barely cost Raikkonen any downforce and he could remain at speed, pulling away from Rosberg.
A few laps later, Lotus found themselves with two drivers in the naughty book and both receiving punishments of different severities. For Romain, he was slapped with a 5-second penalty when Lotus released him from the box alongside Massa. But the loss of time was nothing for Romain compared to Maldonado who received a drive through penalty when Perez found himself going for an angry spin after Pastor squeezed him onto the curb at the first corner, before they made contact.
Back in Hamilton’s charge back to the front, Ricciardo had been reeled in and found the Brit latching onto the Red Bull. But without a clear overtaking chance, Hamilton had to bide his time and wait for the chance before finding himself in more clean air.
The clear air once again allowed Lewis to storm the Hungaroring and reel in the car ahead with it this time being Rosberg, who was slow on the medium tyres compared to Hamilton on the softs. But before Rosberg could react to Hamilton, the race was halted after the virtual and full safety car was activated.
Firstly the virtual safety car was instantly activated to neutralise the race after Hulkenberg crashed into the tyre barrier at turn one following a huge lock up and his front wing failed & fell off. But with debris across the track, the full safety car was brought out.
Before it could pick up Vettel in the lead, all of the front runners had pitted once more for a fresh set of medium tyres. Unfortunately for Kimi, his fragile Ferrari was breaking again but this time a MGUK issue left him running with less straight line power and two Mercedes’ right behind.
At the restart Vettel bolted away from Raikkonen who was mugged by Rosberg into the first corner for second. But a little further back, Ricciardo was mugging Hamilton who was suffering for grip on the primes and the two made contact into turn one, recking Hamilton’s sidepod and front wing.
As Lewis made his climb up the hill, he became swamped by Bottas and Kvyat and fell further down the order. Bottas also received a puncture after the front wing of Kvyat clipped his rear-right tyre.
Lewis soon hit the pits as well for a new front wing but his race already seemed over regardless of the pit stop. Especially when the stewards handed Hamilton a drive through penalty for causing the collision with Ricciardo.
Hamilton now sat right out of the points while Rosberg battled Vettel for the lead of the race. But the duo where being caught like nothing by Ricciardo with last year’s winner on the softer tyres and the greater speed. Kimi meanwhile retired from the race after the team attempted a full engine restart but to no prevail.
Outside the battle for the win and Hamilton’s attempt to save a few points, McLaren had both cars in the points. Highest of the two was Fernando Alonso as the Spaniard stormed through the lower point positions while Button crept up the points when Sainz developed a power unit problem and Maldonado took a drive-through penalty for speeding behind the safety car. But while Maldonado was under investigation for potentially overtaking under the safety car, Sainz retired from the race.
Sainz’s retirement helped Hamilton’s push for points while he overtook Nasr for tenth. Soon enough he was also behind and ahead of Ericsson and slotting himself ahead of Button and drinking in the points.
But what he would not have even been dreaming for soon happened when Ricciardo flung the Red Bull down the inside at turn one. However a lock up sent the Red Bull wide and Rosberg attempted to cut back in front but did so too early and put his rear left tyre across Ricciardo’s front wing causing it to instantly puncture.
A whole lap of limping later, Rosberg made his way into the pit lane for a new set of tyres but while he sat in the box Lewis Hamilton overtook his team-mate.
Now Vettel was storming away from Kvyat in second, who took a time penalty for overtaking Lewis off the circuit when the safety car had left the track all those laps ago. But Kvyat held a large enough lead over Ricciardo to make the penalty irrelevant and claim his first ever F1 podium when Red Bull take a double podium finish.
A little further back, Max Verstappen claimed fourth place ahead of Alonso and Hamilton, while Rosberg nearly claimed seventh from Grosjean. But despite all the errors, the crashes, the penalties and great racing, Formula One still thinks of Jules Bianchi and racing in his honour.