Formula 1 headed to the Hungarian grand prix with a heavy heart after the passing of Jules Bianchi. The hope was that it could put on a show that the young Frenchman would have revelled in. As fate would have it the Hungaroring saw the best and most dramatic race of the season.
It wasn’t a surprise to see Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg lock out the front row of the grid. But the ultra-quick starting Ferrari’s of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen turned the race on its head from the second the lights extinguished. The two scarlet Ferrari’s exploded off the line and swept into first and second halfway through the first lap.
Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton lost three positions off the line but it was only the start of a dramatic afternoon of racing. The defending champion would first run wide at the chicane and later incur a drive-through penalty and lose his front-wing in a clash with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.
By the mid-way point of the race Vettel and Raikkonen had built a nearly fifteen second lead over Nico Rosberg which left the Mercedes driver in a fairly distant third place. Ferrari looked set for a one-two finish but a MGU-K (kers) failure of Raikkonen’s car meant an eventual retirement for the Finn. A cruel end to a very good race.
Ferrari would have to face more pressure as Vettel had to cope with a safety-car completely eradicating his healthy lead after Nico Hulkenberg’s front-wing failed spectacularly littering turn one with shards of carbon fibre. It didn’t take long for Rosberg to take second-place off a wounded Raikkonen but again the German was unable to make an impression on Vettel’s number five Ferrari. By now Daniel Ricciardo, on the quicker option, tyre was catching second-placed Rosberg and with a handful of laps to go lunged for the inside line into turn one. It appeared to be a clean move on the Aussie’s side but Rosberg’s cut back on the exit of the corner ensured a damaged front-wing for the Red Bull and a punctured right-rear for himself.
This incident promoted Daniil Kvyat into second and with the nifty reward of his first ever F1 podium. Ricciardo recovered to third with Max Verstappen scoring an impressive fourth place finish. This marks the first race since the 2013 Brazilian grand prix which did not feature a Mercedes driver on the podium. McLaren’s Fernando Alonso boosted the team’s morale with a fighting fifth place finish.
It is on such dramatic days and moments that world championships turn. Hamilton was given a helping-hand with the safety car but needed a new nose after sliding into the side of Ricciardo at turn one. He was also given a drive-through penalty and emerged from the pitlane in twelfth. It looked for the majority of the race as if the lead of the drivers’ championship would go to Rosberg. Miraculously, after several incidents and a penalty Hamilton fought his way to sixth and extended his championship lead.
Romain Grosjean finished seventh for Lotus ahead of a recovering Rosberg who finished eighth ahead of Jenson Button in ninth. Marcus Ericsson took the final point in tenth for Sauber.
Up front Sebastian Vettel serenely led the way from lights to flag. The four-time German champion is now equal with Ayrton Senna on 41 victories. He capped the impressive win by dedicating it to the memory of Jules Bianchi.