Hamilton’s victory and questions raised on double yellow flags – the 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix.
With victory around the Hungaroring, Hamilton became the most winningest driver at the Hungarian Grand Prix to leave the circuit with the championship lead. But questions still remained from qualifying, where double yellow flags cost Hamilton his chance at pole while a lift gifted Nico the top spot.
1) Hamilton takes championship lead
In what boiled down to a battle off the line for victory, Hamilton’s better initial launch powered him into the lead by the first corner. And from there, Lewis managed his pace to preserve tyre life and save stress on his engine – knowing he will be forced to take a power unit change later in the season, with the subsequent penalty attached.
Without the threat of Ricciardo coming to fruition, and Rosberg unable to overtake the reigning champion, Lewis’ victory around the 2.7 miles of Hungarian track saw him take the chequered flag in first place for the fifth time – and first since his debut victory for Mercedes in 2013.
Hamilton’s fifth victory, one more than seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, also meant Lewis has moved ahead of Rosberg in the championship standings for the first time this year. Moving on to the German Grand Prix with a six-point lead in the Briton’s favour.
2) Double yellow flags debacle
During qualifying’s pole position shoot-out, Lewis Hamilton – among with other drivers – was forced to abort his final qualifying run rather than challenge for pole after Fernando Alonso span at turn nine.
Fernando’s spin caused his McLaren to stop on the exit turn and activate double waved yellow flags – which supposedly mean prepare to stop your car.
When Hamilton entered sector two, those flags remained so he backed out of his lap and was left to hope his provisional time was enough for pole.
But when Rosberg entered that zone, he made a lift going into turn eight to acknowledge the yellow flags before getting back on the power when he saw Fernando had got back underway and was no longer obstructing the track.
The slight lift did cost Nico some time in the sector. But he still progressed to set a purple sector time on the drying track to snatch pole at the final moment.
With Nico only lifting off and losing a tenth of a second, Hamilton sought clarification from Charlie Whiting [F1 race director] on the double yellow flag rule.
After the race, Hamilton stated: “Lifting and coasting into a corner, that’s fuel saving. And braking at the same place and getting on the power five metres earlier or whatever it was, and being the same speed at the apex and actually much quicker at the exit…”
3) Kerb timing loops installed to monitor track limits
For the Hungarian Grand Prix, the FIA installed timing loops with the new kerbs at the Hungaroring. The purpose of the timing loops was to monitor drivers for breaching track limits at turns four and eleven.
In recent races, drivers have faced their qualifying lap times being deleted during qualifying – with race stewards watching drivers for overrunning exit kerbs and gaining time.
For Hungary, however, new kerbs that laid flat to the run off meant drivers would see no deterrent to running wide as they would not lose any time. So to counteract that aspect, the FIA installed timing loops 1.6 metres from the track edge at turns 4 and 11 to monitor the corners.
And the timing loops proved successful, although some drivers felt the loop was misplaced at turn 11.
Throughout the weekend the timing loops caught drivers running wide at those two corners, with the affected drivers handed a strike in the race. The strike system used meant any driver who ran wide on up to three occasions would receive a strike before a subsequent penalty for any further misadventure.
4) Red Bull ahead of Ferrari
At the start of the 2016 season, it appeared Ferrari had built on their 2015 stance as Mercedes’ nearest challenger. Especially as they came out of the winter break challenging for the win in Australia – up until strategic errors cost Vettel the win.
But come Formula One’s return to it’s European homeland, Red Bull appear to have moved back ahead of Ferrari – like in 2014 – to be Mercedes main rival. Taking the win in Spain through Verstappen, before taking pole in Monaco with Ricciardo – where a poor pit stop in the race handed the lead to Hamilton.
Then in Hungary last time out, Red Bull had one driver finish directly ahead of a Ferrari driver. With Ricciardo holding off Vettel for the final step on the podium and Verstappen’s stern defending holding off the attacking Raikkonen.
But the Hungarian Grand Prix did show Ferrari had the pace over Red Bull in the final stints with the drivers running on different stages of tyre life.
Meaning it is very much game on between Red Bull and Ferrari for second place in the constructors’ championship going in to Germany and beyond F1’s summer shutdown.
5) Radio regulations rumble on
During the late stages of the British Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg received word from the Mercedes pit wall that he had a gearbox issue and needed to shift through seventh gear.
The message to shift through the gear later cost him second place in the race as he was handed a 10-second penalty for breaching the radio regulations.
And after the FIA handed Rosberg that penalty, they tightened up the radio restrictions again so that if a driver receives any information from their team to do with their car they must drive through the pit lane to fix the issue. With the pit lane now a free zone for the radio rules rather than just the garage.
Then in the early laps of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Button developed a sensor issue with his hydraulic system causing the brake pedal to go to the floor – something the team deemed a safety concern so told their driver what switch to change in order to prevent it happening again.
Then to respond to the new radio rules, Button was brought into the pit lane by the team. Leaving him in last place.
But the radio communication still left Button receiving a drive-through penalty. With Jenson raising the question: “So the brake pedal going to the floor isn’t classified as a safety issue?! Interesting. I think someone needs to read up on what’s safe and what isn’t.”.
6) Disrespectful Lewis
As Hamilton weaved his way through lapped traffic, while fending off the threat of Rosberg, he repeatedly lost time to his team-mate before regaining the lost time once in clear air.
But when lapping Esteban Gutierrez, Hamilton struggled to find a way past the Haas who opted not to go onto the dirty side of the track as he looked for a safe place to allow Lewis through.
When the Mercedes did breeze by Esteban down the pit straight, Hamilton let the Mexican know how he was feeling as he gestured his displeasure with a single finger in the air.
Speaking on the situation, Gutierrez said: “Not a very respectful move from him, I have to say. I’ve spoken to him in the past – he’s the world champion but he shouldn’t do these kinds of things, he should respect all of the competitors.
Video credit: Sport Buzz
7) Halo presentation changes opinions
Ahead of its expected introduction with 2017 cars, the Halo was presented to drivers on Friday – where they were shown situations in the past in varying categories were the Halo would have changed the situation.
And although it still splits opinions in terms of look and if it would save lives in situations similar to Bianchi’s and Justin Wilson’s, the presentation that showed some ‘shocking’ images has appeared to change the opinions of certain drivers.
Hamilton, a leading driver on stating his distaste with the looks of the Halo, said: “The interesting thing is that the Halo system, whilst it doesn’t look great and doesn’t look in the racing spirit for me, we can’t ignore the fact that the chances are 17% better of saving the driver’s life in the instances that have happened in the past. However, we still have to continue from there.”
8) Vandoorne in, Haryanto out at Manor
As the future of Stoffel Vandoorne and Rio Haryanto in Formula One continues to be uncertain, rumours emerged during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend that McLaren may look to put Stoffel in the Manor should Rio no longer have the funding needed for his seat.
The move by McLaren would see their reserve driver gain valuable experience in Formula One ahead of a potential race seat with the McLaren team in place of Button or Alonso in the future. But at this point in time, they have rejected the rumours while claiming they would be open to listening to Manor should they be open to the idea.
As for Haryanto, his funding has always been questionable. With the Indonesian driver needing state-backed funding for his seat – with his current agreement only enough to secure his seat for the first 10 races. Should he be unable to raise enough for the remainder of the season, his time in F1 may be over.