Daniel Ricciardo sits in fifth spot in the world championship heading into the mid-season break. (AP: Laszlo Balogh)
Lewis Hamilton heads into Formula One’s summer break with a comfortable 24-point lead over rival Sebastian Vettel after cruising to victory from pole position at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo meanwhile finished just outside the podium on Sunday (local time), although he was named driver of the day after surging from 12th spot on the grid to finish in fourth, recording the fastest lap of the race in the process.
“We had a pretty good car and I was able to make it to fourth. In the end it was a good result for us,” Ricciardo said.
Ricciardo — who had been dogged by bad luck in recent weeks — was fortunate to finish at all.
In a dramatic finish, Valtteri Bottas lost control of his car and bumped Ricciardo’s Red Bull off the track as he was about to be overtaken.
“I just ended up being a mess in the end with a broken car,” Bottas said.
Bottas was told on team radio to give the position back to Ricciardo, and was later given a 10-second time penalty but this did not affect results.
Riccardo survived not only that bump, but also a first-lap incident with Marcus Ericsson that saw the Australian drop to 16th at one point and endure a frustrating battle with Estaban Ocon — whom Ricciardo felt had gained an unfair advantage by cutting the chicane to overtake him initially.
‘The start was a bit hectic, I got beaten around a little bit.” Ricciardo said after the race.
It was a welcome return to form for Ricciardo, who had failed to finish in two of the previous three grand prix.
Instead it was Ricciardo’s teammate, Max Verstappen who suffered misfortune in Hungary, launching a series of expletives when engine failure curtailed his race after eight laps.
“It was difficult to accept and I was very upset over the radio,” Verstappen said. “The fans are disappointed, they came all this way and only see you do five or six laps.”
It is the fourth time Verstappen has failed to finish this season. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner blamed the Renault engine as being substandard. Red Bull is splitting with Renault and working with Honda next season.
Hamilton surges ahead
Lewis Hamilton won his first grand prix for Mercedes in Hungary back in 2013. (AP: Laszlo Balogh)
Hamilton was untroubled as he secured a second-straight win, his fifth of the season and 67th overall. Vettel was second.
“It’s great to go into the break with back-to-back wins,” said Hamilton, who won in Germany last week. “That boost will last a long time with our team.”
After 12 of 21 races, defending champion Hamilton has the momentum. At the same stage last season, he trailed Vettel by 14 points.
“What a beautiful day, what a great car,” said Hamilton, who won by 17 seconds. “We’ve had an amazing job by the team and we came here with Ferrari pushing.”
Mercedes missed out on a 1-2 as Bottas was overtaken by Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen with five laps to go.
Bottas and Vettel had earlier touched during the overtaking move, with some debris flying off the Mercedes.
“I got a hit from behind. I wasn’t sure what was going on,” Vettel said. “Lucky that the car wasn’t broken and we could carry on.”
Hamilton and Vettel will continue their battle for a fifth F1 title when the championship resumes at the Belgian Grand Prix on August 26.
“The second half is always exciting and intense,” said Hamilton.
Vettel and Raikkonen drove well considering both endured a botched pit stop because of a slow tire change.
Ferrari team strategy meant Raikkonen pitted twice for new tires and — on a scorching hot day — Ferrari bafflingly forgot to properly attach his drink supply.
“It’s nice to get some water in the mouth sometimes,” Raikkonen said. “Apart from that, it wasn’t an issue.”
Hamilton secured pole with a brilliant last lap in the rain on Saturday, while Vettel started a modest fourth behind Raikkonen and Bottas.
LewisHamilton tweet: Pole!! Today’s been an emotional rollercoaster in tricky conditions and so happy with the final result. We’re looking forward to the race tomorrow and giving it our all as always
“Qualifying was a very important day for us,” said Hamilton, referring to the fact Ferrari was expected to be quicker.
The long straight up to turn one was Ferrari’s best and — ultimately — only chance of overtaking Hamilton. But he comfortably held position while Vettel jumped ahead of Raikkonen and almost caught Bottas.
Hamilton’s win here followed his victory at last weekend’s rain-soaked German Grand Prix, where he was handed victory after Vettel crashed late while leading.
Mercedes decided to bring Hamilton in on Sunday for his only tire change on lap 26. He came out second behind Vettel — the only time Hamilton did not lead.
Ferrari pitted Raikkonen for a second tire change on lap 39, and Vettel finally came in the next lap.
But it was another poor stop from Ferrari, whose mechanics struggled to fit the front left tire. The stop took four seconds — roughly double the ideal time — and when Vettel emerged on track he was behind Bottas.
On arguably the most difficult track for overtaking in F1 after Monaco, it greatly reduced Vettel’s hopes of finishing second. But with Bottas struggling with his rear tires, Vettel seized his chance.