Sebastian Vettel has extended his championship lead after winning a tense Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
Converting pole to victory, the race wasn’t as easy as the Ferrari team had planned after an early safety car and some car issues caused stress for the Scuderia.
Vettel got the jump off the start, fending off Raikkonen in to turn one. The Red Bulls moved up as Ricciardo got into fourth as the pair went two wide in to turn two.
Drama followed as Verstappen locked up and hit his team-mate, punching a hole in the Australian’s radiator and giving him a puncture, forcing Ricciardo to retire between turns three and four.
The safety car was deployed while Ricciardo’s car was recovered and the coolant was cleaned up from the track. Replays showed Palmer was fortunate not to end up crashing in to the spinning Red Bull, just missing the rear as he went past.
At the restart, Vettel led from Raikkonen and Bottas with Verstappen passing Hamilton for fourth behind at turn one. Sainz and Alonso made contact on the exit of the first corner with the McLaren running wide but not losing any further positions.
A lap after moving up, Verstappen was handed a ten second penalty for the contact with his team-mate which he would serve at his first pit stop.
Mercedes radioed in to Hamilton to inform him they were suffering technical difficulties, mostly with their communications between the pits and the car. The issue seemed to be one-way with the team being able to talk to Hamilton but him not able to talk back.
Vettel continued to open up a gap at the front, running almost four seconds clear of Raikkonen and five and a half ahead of Bottas on lap 15. The gap from Bottas to Verstappen was the same as the Dutchman to Hamilton, just under two seconds but with the sole remaining Red Bull still yet to serve his penalty.
Hulkenberg passed his team-mate on lap 19 at the beginning of the lap, seemingly being let by given his superior pace and ability to catch the cars ahead. Grosjean was pulled in to pit thanks to a suspected slow puncture.
The French Haas driver retired the lap after his pit stop thanks to one of the wheel nuts being cross threaded on his car, making it too dangerous to continue all the way back to the pits.
Raikkonen closed the gap to Vettel, chipping away at the championship leader’s race lead as the German started to complain about his steering wheel being out of alignment, due either to being put on incorrectly or some other issue with the car.
Bottas was the first of the lead bunch to pit on lap 31, though the stop was tardy at three and a half seconds with a slow left front wheel. Hamilton stopped a lap later, the Mercedes crew working fast to give him a two and a half second stop and coming out around 3 seconds behind Bottas.
Vettel responded a lap later, Ferrari’s mechanics putting on new tyres in three seconds with Raikkonen being serviced the next time by, his stop slightly faster which narrowed the gap to under a second at the front.
Sainz and Alonso came in to the pits at the same time but a lightning stop from the McLaren team saw their man close up by the end of the pit lane. The pair battled on the out lap with Alonso getting past the next time by around the outside at turn two, moving in to ninth on the road.
Verstappen came in for his pit stop and to serve his penalty on lap 43, emerging in fifth on the road but well behind the leading four of Vettel, Raikkonen, Bottas and Hamilton.
The Mercedes cars swapped positions on lap 46 with Hamilton posting a lap nearly a second faster than Vettel thanks to the clear air. This enabled him to gain on Raikkonen who was acting as a tail-gunner to his team-mate.
Hulkenberg had a stop to forget when his front right tyre struggled to come off, leaving him hanging for an unpleasant amount of time and making him rejoin the track out of the points.
Raikkonen closed within DRS range of Vettel on lap 53, allowing him to challenger for the lead but also run away from Hamilton behind him. This didn’t phase the Brit who was able to close within a second of the Finn’s Ferrari.
With just over ten laps left, Hamilton and his team talked about the possibility of giving the position back to Bottas though he showed no signs of slowing, still staying within a second of the Ferrari in front.
di Resta retired with only a handful of laps left, car dramas cutting his temporary comeback short. His Williams team couldn’t be disappointed with his performance though, not bending the car and returning it with no faults which he had caused.
As the race entered its final five laps, the top three were split by just over two seconds as Verstappen made use of his fresher tyres to close in quickly on the back of Bottas but couldn’t come close enough to mount a challenge.
It was all smiles at Ferrari as Vettel crossed the line to extend his championship lead, bringing home a 1-2 ahead of Raikkonen with Bottas being handed back his third placing just before the finish line. Hamilton, Verstappen, Alonso, Sainz, Perez, Ocon and Vandoorne completed the top ten finishers.
Image via Scuderia Ferrari
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