Daniel Ricciardo has claimed the second Formula 1 win of his career in an extraordinary finish to the Hungarian Grand Prix. As was the case with his maiden win at Canada in June, the Australian took the lead with three laps to go, using his fresher tyres to overhaul Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.
The former champs joined the Red Bull Racing driver on the podium, with Hamilton starting from the pit lane and overcoming a wealth of problems with another typically gritty drive. Current points leader Nico Rosberg finished fourth to see his points lead over Hamilton trimmed to 11 points.
After an incredibly unpredictable qualifying session, few would have anticipated that the race could match it, but it delivered in spades with a contender for ‘Race of the Year’.
Heavy rain showers lashed the circuit in the hour leading up to the start of the 70-lap race, forcing the field to start on intermediate tyres. While those on the grid were stuck with the set-up they’d qualified with, Lewis Hamilton and Kevin Magnussen – who were starting from the pit lane after switching chassis’ – were free to customise their set-ups.
Polesitter Rosberg pulled away into an early lead during the wet opening laps of the race to lead Valtteri Bottas, Sebastian Vettel and the fast-starting Ferrari of Alonso.
Starting from pit lane, Hamilton was immediately caught out by his cold brakes, spinning off at Turn 3 and lightly brushing the barriers. He was able to continue, with little more than bruised pride and a slightly mangled set of winglets on his front wing.
The track was rapidly drying – albeit with a few damp patches in the opening few corners – and the battle was to see how long everyone could make their tyres last amidst the expectation of further showers.
Ultimately they never came, but that didn’t stop Marcus Ericsson from finding a damp patch on Lap 9. Chasing Pastor Maldonado’s Lotus through Turn 4, the Venezuelan ahead got a little tail-happy and Ericsson tried to anticipate any drama ahead, only to cause his own with a high-speed tank-slapper into the tyre wall.
His Caterham was totalled in an impact that registered 20G, and the Safety Car was duly called.
The timing of the Safety Car call was disastrous for the leading quartet, who had all passed pit entry before catching the silver Mercedes SLS AMG that had been dispatched by FIA race director Charlie Whiting.
The lead went to Ricciardo – first of the runners to pit at the ideal time – who switched to the dry-weather rubber, while two-time Hungarian Grand Prix winner Jenson Button gambled on a hat-trick of wet-weather wins at the circuit, sticking with a fresh set of Intermediates. Kevin Magnussen, meanwhile, opted not to pit at all and was third, ahead of Rosberg.
A return to racing was delayed when Romain Grosjean embarrassingly crashed his Lotus while the field was still held under the Safety Car; he managed the feat at the same spot as Ericsson.
Racing resumed and Button used the last bits of moisture on the track to overpower Ricciardo on the dash to Turn 1, but his joy proved short-lived as McLaren’s gamble was clearly going to fail miserably; he was into the pits just a few laps later – along with Magnussen – and both tumbled down the order. The Englishman eventually finished a dispirited tenth, while Magnussen was outside the points.
The Safety Car was back out on Lap 23 after Sergio Perez dropped his Force India onto the wet Astroturf run-off at the final corner and was pitched hard into the pit wall. The Mexican’s car was ruined – although fortunately he was unhurt – but it capped off a disastrous weekend for Force India. Teammate Nico Hulkenberg had retired just a few laps before, clipping teammate Perez with a terrible brain fade at the final corner.
The pause saw Ricciardo and the Williams duo of Bottas and Massa dive for the pits, giving Alonso the lead from Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso, Rosberg, Vettel and Hamilton, who had clambered up to fifth and now had his title rival in his sights.
Inexplicably, Rosberg found himself unable to get by Vergne, which allowed Alonso to build enough of a gap to make Ferrari switch the Spaniard onto a two-stop strategy. Hamilton and Vettel swapped places when the German ‘did a Perez’ at the final corner, but showed consummate skill in the face of a potentially sizeable accident to somehow keep his car out of the wall.
Mercedes found a gap in the traffic to pull Rosberg into the pits for a fresh set of boots – his second of three visits to the pits – it was a slow stop and it meant Hamilton emerged in front after what was to be his second and final stop.
There was chatter on the Mercedes radio between its drivers as the team asked Hamilton to let Rosberg – who still had one more stop planned – get ahead. Hamilton rightly refused unless Rosberg could get right onto his rear wing, fearful of the fact that his own tyres might not last the distance and that his championship battle could be compromised.
After much dithering, Mercedes pulled Rosberg into the pits and he rejoined seventh with a seemingly impossible task of trying to fight his way back up through the field in the final fourteen laps.
Hamilton caught Alonso but found himself unable to mount a challenge in the face of stern defence from the typically dogged Spaniard who was one again out-driving his car and looking set to break Ferrari’s 15-month winless streak.
But the pair was being caught at an even quicker rate by Ricciardo, who spent a few laps sizing up Hamilton before putting a brilliant move on the Mercedes with four laps to go to move into second.
A lap later and he was by Alonso, whose 30-odd-lap-old tyres cried enough. A jubilant Aussie went on to claim a popular and exceptionally well-deserved win, while Alonso did enough to hang onto second place.
Hamilton secured third, but had Rosberg – who closed up at over three seconds a lap after overtaking ahead of Massa and Kimi Raikkonen – right in his wheel tracks. The result closed the points battle between the two to 11 points, but the bigger headache for the team will be managing yet another intra-term conflict over the four-week summer break.
Massa finished fifth on a three-stop strategy, while Raikkonen was sixth, having quietly worked his way up to a season’s best finish from his lowly grid slot in the second Ferrari.
Vettel showed no ill effects from his 360-degree spin earlier in the race to finish seventh, just keeping Bottas at bay in the final laps. Vergne and Button completed the top ten, while Adrian Sutil was eleventh for Sauber as the Swiss team failed to capitalize on a potential first points finish of a horrible year for the squad.
2014 Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix – Final Classification (70 laps):
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Daniel Ricciardo||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||70||1:53:05.058|
|2.||Fernando Alonso||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||70||+ 5.225|
|3.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||70||+ 5.857|
|4.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes AMG Petronas F1W05||70||+ 6.361|
|5.||Felipe Massa||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||70||+ 29.841|
|6.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari F14T||70||+ 31.491|
|7.||Sebastian Vettel||Infiniti Red Bull Racing Renault RB10||70||+ 40.964|
|8.||Valtteri Bottas||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW36||70||+ 41.344|
|9.||Jean-Éric Vergne||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||70||+ 58.527|
|10.||Jenson Button||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||70||+ 1:07.280|
|11.||Adrian Sutil||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||70||+ 1:08.169|
|12.||Kevin Magnussen||McLaren Mercedes MP4-29||70||+ 1:18.465|
|13.||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||70||+ 1:24.024|
|14.||Daniil Kvyat||Scuderia Toro Rosso Renault STR9||69||1 lap behind|
|15.||Jules Bianchi||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||69||1 lap behind|
|16.||Max Chilton||Marussia F1 Team Ferrari MR03||69||1 lap behind|
|DNF.||Esteban Gutiérrez||Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C33||32||KERS failure|
|DNF.||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||24||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Sergio Pérez||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||22||Accident|
|DNF.||Nico Hülkenberg||Force India Mercedes Mercedes VJM07||14||Collision|
|DNF.||Romain Grosjean||Lotus F1 Team Renault E22||10||Accident|
|DNF.||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham F1 Team Renault CT05||7||Accident|
Image via BBC and Sutton Images
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