Photo: Red Bull Racing
Fire and water. Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes burst into flames during the first round of qualifying Saturday and rain greeted he and rest of field, including pole-sitting teammate, Nico Rosberg on Sunday. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) started next to Rosberg on Row 1. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) and Vettel’s teammate Daniel Ricciardo made up Row 2. Hamilton started from pit row for the first time in his F1 career. He came back the prior weekend from starting P20 to finish on the podium, but overtaking opportunities are more limited on the Hungaroring than at Hockenheim.
Rosberg got off the line first to maintain the lead, with Bottas jumping Vettel through the first turn and Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) doing so entering Turn 2. Vettel passed Alonso through the next series of turns to take third and began pressuring Bottas for second. Alonso went off track in the wet, as did Hamilton.
The track was drying by Lap 5, but rain remained in the area, complicating tire strategy. All cars started on intermediates. Hamilton had a broken element on his left front wing, causing a vibration, but had risen to P17 and was 10 sec out of P10. Rosberg went off track in Turn 1, but made it back onto the circuit in time to maintain P1.
Hamilton passed Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) for P13 during Lap 8. The safety car came out during Lap 9 following a crash by Marcus Ericsson (Caterham). The field pitted, with most – including Rosberg -- taking dry-weather tires. Ricciardo led out of the pits on slicks, followed by Jenson Button (McLaren) in P2 on a new set of intermediates, and Felipe Massa (Williams).
As the safety car prepared to pull in, Romain Grosjean (Lotus) went into the wall. Rosberg voiced concern regarding his brakes. The safety car came in at the end of Lap 13 (of 70). Button took the lead from Ricciardo exiting Turn 1. Hamilton chased Vettel for P8 during Lap 15, as both closed on Rosberg. Button came in to remove the intermediates, with Ricciardo inheriting the lead and running 4 sec ahead of Massa. Alonso was clocking fastest lap from P3, closing the gap on his former teammate.
Ricciardo set fast lap on 22, extending his lead over Massa, while Alonso continued to close. The safety car came out one lap later as Sergio Perez (Force India) made heavy contact with the wall. Ricciardo pitted and put on a new set of soft slick tires, the requirement to use both dry compounds having been waved due to starting the race on intermediates. Massa also pitted, putting Alonso in the lead, followed by Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) and Rosberg.
Rosberg was pressuring Vergne for second during Lap 30, with Alonso’s lead out to 3.6 sec. Rosberg pitted from the lead during Lap 33. Vettel caught the outside curb on the final turn, spun across the track, hit the inside wall, but maintained enough control to continue. Hamilton passed Vergne on the outside in Turn 4 one lap later, taking second behind Alonso.
Vergne pitted on Lap 35, Alonso carrying a 6.6-sec lead over Hamilton with Ricciardo moving up to P3. By Lap 37, Hamilton had closed to within 4 sec of the lead. With rain approaching, Hamilton told his team he could probably eke out another 1 or 2 laps on his current tires, the team responding “Okay, go as far as you can.” Alonso pitted from the lead, leaving Hamilton after having started in the pits, at the point. Hamilton came in one lap later, both cars putting on another pair of slick tires.
Ricciardo led Massa during Lap 41 by 11.1 sec., with Raikkonen running P3. The Finn pitted on the next lap, teammate Alonso rising to third. Hamilton was in fourth on medium tires capable of carrying him to the end of the race, while Alonso ran on softs. Massa pitted for another set of medium tires, moving Alonso and Hamilton into second and third.
Mercedes asked Hamilton to let Rosberg pass, the German still needing to make a final pit stop, but Hamilton declined the request preferring to continue to close on Alonso and Ricciardo. “I’m not slowing down for Nico. If he gets close he can pass me.” The leader reported he was struggling with his rear tires and pitted on Lap 55, leaving the Top 3 as Alonso, Hamilton, and Rosberg. Alonso also still needed to pit. Ricciardo reentered the fray in fourth on soft tires.
Rosberg pitted dropping to P4 and moving Ricciardo back up to third. Ricciardo was taking more than 1 sec/lap off of Hamilton at Lap 59. Hamilton was making up ground on Alonso at a similar pace. By Lap 61 Alonso led Hamilton by 1.2 sec, with Ricciardo 0.9 back of the Mercedes.
Alonso left the track briefly during Lap 63, having run on his softs since Lap 39, but retained the lead. Ricciardo ran wide trying to pass Hamilton on Turn 2 during Lap 65. Rosberg was closing on the leading pack by 4 sec/lap with 5 to go. Ricciardo passed Hamilton in Turns 2-3 for P2 during Lap 67. Rosberg was within 5 sec of Hamilton.
Ricciardo passed Alonso for the lead on the next lap. With 2 to go, Rosberg had closed to within 2 sec of Hamilton, who was still trying to pass Alonso. Rosberg tried passing on the outside of Turn 2 during the final lap but was pushed wide by his teammate.
Ricciardo took his second win of the year, Alonso holding on for P2, and Hamilton holding off Rosberg to take the podium from pit lane.
Driver standings (Top 10)
Nico Rosberg (Germany), Mercedes – 202
Lewis Hamilton (Great Britain), Mercedes – 191
Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull-Renault – 131
Fernando Alonso (Spain), Ferrari – 115
Valtteri Bottas (Finland), Williams-Mercedes – 95
Sebastian Vettel (Germany), Red Bull-Renault - 88
Nico Hulkenberg (Germany), Force India-Mercedes – 69
Jenson Button (Great Britain), McLaren-Mercedes – 60
Felipe Massa (Brazil), Williams-Mercedes - 40
Kevin Magnussen (Denmark), McLaren-Mercedes – 37
Team standings (teams earning points)
Mercedes (Rosberg, Hamilton) – 393
Red Bull Racing-Renault (Vettel, Ricciardo) – 219
Ferrari (Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen) – 142
Williams-Mercedes (Bottas, Massa) – 135
Force India-Mercedes (Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez) – 98
McLaren-Mercedes (Magnussen, Button) – 97
STR-Renault (Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniil Kvyat) – 17
Lotus-Renault (Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado) – 8
Marussia-Ferrari (Jules Bianchi, Max Chilton) – 2
Next event: Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps - Aug. 22-24