Lewis Hamilton kept his cool amid soaring temperatures at the Hungaroring, claiming a victory few would have predicted ahead of this weekend’s race to extend his lead in the Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship standings.
Hamilton’s performance was commanding. After grafting his way to pole position in the wet on Saturday, the Mercedes driver was brilliant on a baking hot Sunday where track temperatures peaked at a tyre-melting 60°C.
He led the field away as the lights went out, with he and teammate Valtteri Bottas countering the usual fast getaways by their Ferrari rivals with a well-orchestrated run to Turn 1 to keep the red cars at bay.
Vettel, starting from fourth on the grid, swept around the outside of teammate Kimi Räikkönen with a neat move at Turn 3 as the Finn got boxed in behind Bottas at the left-hander, but he could do nothing but follow in the Mercedes driver’s wheel tracks during the first stint of the race.
With overtaking very difficult at the tight and twisty Hungaroring – although Daniel Ricciardo proved a notable exception – the two Ferraris were bottled up behind Bottas as Hamilton skipped away into a comfortable lead on the grippier Ultrasoft tyres.
Räikkönen – unable to take on any fluids thanks to a disconnected drinks bottle – made an early visit to the pits to try and force Mercedes’ hand, but a slow tyre change ensured that Bottas was able to cover him when he was called into the pits.
Hamilton continued to lead now from Vettel, who opened his race on the slower but more durable Soft compound tyres. The championship leader pitted at the end of Lap 25, while Ferrari kept Vettel out on track in the hope he could leapfrog Bottas and attack Hamilton at the end of the race when he would be on the Ultrasoft tyres.
His plans went awry when he too had a slow pit stop, emerging behind Bottas once more when he exited the pits and unable to use his Ultrasofts to their full effect.
Ferrari’s tactics had backfired thanks to their unusually poor pit stops and even second place looked to be a stretch as Bottas calmly held the two Ferraris at arm’s length. Eventually the Finn’s tyres began to go off, allowing Vettel to sneak by with the assistance of DRS on Lap 65.
Bottas tried to counter on the run to Turn 2 but only succeeded in damaging his front wing on the rear of Vettel’s car as the German turned into the left-hander. Vettel’s car was undamaged as he and Räikkönen slipped into second and third places, leaving Bottas to nurse his damaged car to the finish line.
He was quickly caught by Ricciardo, who had quickly worked his way into the top five from an out-of-position twelfth on the grid with a succession of brave passing moves at Turn 1. The Red Bull Racing driver honed up to the back of Bottas and lunged for the outside at Turn 1, but the Mercedes – down on front-end grip – clumsily understeered into the side of the Australian’s RB14.
The contact punctured a hole in the side of Ricciardo’s car, but he soldiered on and reclaimed fourth place from a frustrated Bottas, who would later be hit with a 10-second post-race time penalty that proved a moot punishment in the circumstances.
Ricciardo’s fine drive to fourth place was a poor consolation for Red Bull Racing, which was a pre-event favourite to claim victory at a circuit best suited to the car and its lack of horsepower. Max Verstappen was an early casualty, retiring with an expletive-laden radio tirade when his Renault-built engine let go.
Sixth place after a fine drive went to Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, who finished unlapped in his Honda-powered STR13 – a result that no doubt cemented Red Bull Racing’s decision to adopt the same engine its B-team gambled on this year.
Kevin Magnussen was seventh in his Haas Ferrari ahead of Fernando Alonso, with the McLaren driver celebrating his 37th birthday in eighth place.
Calos Sainz Jr. was unable to maximise a season’s best fifth place in qualifying and slumped to ninth in his Renault, with the second Haas of Romain Grosjean claiming the final point in tenth.
Up front, Hamilton romped to his sixth victory in Hungary by an impressive 17 seconds ahead of the two Ferraris, an unthinkable result that puts him on course to claim a fifth World Championship title and equal the record of the great Juan Manuel Fangio.
|FORMULA 1 ROLEX MAGYAR NAGYDÍJ 2018 – FINAL CLASSIFICATION (70 LAPS)|
|Driver||Team / Entry||Laps||Result|
|1.||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09||70||1:37:16.427|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Scuderia Ferrari SF71H||70||+ 17.123|
|3.||Kimi Räikkönen||Scuderia Ferrari SF71H||70||+ 20.101|
|4.||Daniel Ricciardo||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB14||70||+ 46.419|
|5.||Valtteri Bottas||Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport F1W09||70||+ 1:00.000|
|6.||Pierre Gasly||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13||70||+ 1:13.273|
|7.||Kevin Magnussen||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18||69||1 lap behind|
|8.||Fernando Alonso||McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33||69||1 lap behind|
|9.||Carlos Sainz Jr||Renault Sport F1 Team RS18||69||1 lap behind|
|10.||Romain Grosjean||Haas F1 Team Ferrari VF-18||69||1 lap behind|
|11.||Brendon Hartley||Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR13||69||1 lap behind|
|12.||Nico Hülkenberg||Renault Sport F1 Team RS18||69||1 lap behind|
|13.||Esteban Ocon||Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11||69||1 lap behind|
|14.||Sergio Pérez||Force India F1 Team Mercedes VJM11||69||1 lap behind|
|15.||Marcus Ericsson||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37||68||2 laps behind|
|16.||Sergey Sirotkin||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41||68||2 laps behind|
|17.||Lance Stroll||Williams Martini Racing Mercedes FW41||68||2 laps behind|
|Not Classified||Team / Entry||Laps|
|DNF.||Stoffel Vandoorne||McLaren F1 Team Renault MCL33||49||Gearbox|
|DNF.||Max Verstappen||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB14||5||Engine|
|DNF.||Charles Leclerc||Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team Ferrari C37||0||Suspension|
|Fastest Lap||Team / Entry||Lap||Time|
|Daniel Ricciardo||Aston Martin Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer RB14||46||1:20.012|
Valtteri Bottas – who was provisionally classified 5th – was issued a 10-second post-race time penalty for causing a collision with Daniel Ricciardo.
Image via Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport