Sebastian Vettel extended his championship lead in the Formula 1 Drivers World Championship by taking his fourth win of the 2017 season. The German took an impressive pole position on Saturday, beating his teammate Kimi Raikkonen by just 0.168 of a second. Ferrari had looked impressive all weekend long and putting Mercedes on the back foot from the get go. Max Verstappen beat his Red Bull counterpart Daniel Ricciardo while both McLarens showed continued signs of improvement with both cars getting into the final ten.
The start was somewhat hectic with Raikkonen threatening Vettel as they entered turn 1. Verstappen got a good get away but ran slightly wide on the exit of 1 and went into turn 2 side by side with teammate Ricciardo. Contact was made between both Red Bull drivers which put the Australian out of the race on lap one when Verstappen understeered into the side of Ricciardo and caused a left rear puncture and radiator to burst. There was also contact further back in the field with Nico Hulkenberg and Romain Grosjean clashing wheels to which Grosjean was not happy about. Lewis Hamilton also had a close call when he locked up down into turn 1, nearly running into the back of his own team mate, Valterri Bottas.
Once the race had settled down, the Ferrari’s began to show their true pace and pulled a sizeable gap in the first stint. Mercedes had no answer and were battling to contend with the flying Dutchman Max Verstappen who was proving that the Red Bull suited the technical layout of the Hungaroring. Vettel came over the radio to the team on lap 25 complaining that his steering wheel was offset to the left making it difficult to judge entry of left-hand corners. It was getting progressively worse as the race unfolded which began to impact Raikkonen and hinder his pace. Technical issues troubled Mercedes when their radio communications failed for both drivers. Fernando Alonso was running well in the early part of the race sitting behind fellow countryman Carlos Sainz who both showed solid race pace. Alonso was able to pull off a magical move around the outside of turn 2 on Sainz to take over 6th place, showing that the McLaren was working well.
When the pit stop window opened, it was Raikkonen of the two Ferraris that pitted first for a set of Pirelli soft compound tires. He nearly gained enough advantage to take the lead but fell just short of doing so. The Fin wasn’t happy with the team as he felt he could have gone longer on his previous set of tires and put in some good laps to build up a gap to jump Vettel. Max Verstappen was awarded a 10 second time penalty for hitting his team mate on lap 1 which he served during his stop on lap 43. Mercedes finally resolved their radio communication issues and began to come on very strong later in the race, putting both Ferraris under serious pressure. Bottas allowed his team mate Hamilton to pass so that he could chase down and try to pass both prancing horses at the front. If he could not do so by the end of the race then Hamilton would let the sister silver arrow back through before the end of the race.
Hulkenburg and Magnusson were in a heated battle for 11th place and came very close to contact at turn 4 which saw Hulkenburg forced off the track. He expressed his dissatisfaction towards Magnusson after the race. Hamilton was continuing to apply the pressure at the front but couldn’t unsettle Raikonnen. A hard charging Max Vertsappen was also bearing down on the second Mercedes of Bottas which was beginning to put their plan of letting Hamilton past under extreme heat. Through all the pressure applied by Mercedes, Ferrari held on to take their fourth win of the season and close the gap in the constructor’s championship down to 39 points. Hamilton kept his promise to Bottas and left it to the last corner to let his team mate back through to take the final spot on the podium. Vettel was able to extend his tight lead of 1 point from Silverstone to 14 points going into the Summer break. Fernando Alonso clinched the fastest lap of the race and finished an astonishing 6th overall, proving that progress is finally being made at the McLaren camp. Paul Di Resta who was substituted on Saturday for the sick Felipe Massa was unable to finish due to technical issues with the car which was a shame after he put in a solid effort for the little time he has had in the car.
Overall it was an entertaining race with plenty of drama and close battles throughout. A disagreement between Nico Hulkenburg and Kevin Magnusson proved to be a highlight of the weekend when Magnusson told the German to “suck his balls”. Ricciardo was also not happy with Max Verstappen after the Dutchman caused the Australian to retire from the race on lap 1. Ricciardo stated over the radio after the incident that Verstappen was a ‘sore loser’ and couldn’t handle the fact he was going to be overtaken by his team mate. As always, there were highs and lows for everyone throughout the paddock but they all receive a 3-week break before the next race at the famous Spa-Francorchamps. See you then.
Written by Raoul Owens.