The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

GRAND PRIX : Hungary : All Change at the Top

27-07-2016

By Jack Target

Grand prix hungaryAnd just like that, we have a new World Championship leader.

Lewis Hamilton missed out on pole, somewhat controversially, but took the lead in the first lap of the Hungarian GP and never looked back as he won the race and overtook his teammate in the standings.

It was Hamilton’s fifth win in Hungary. That is not only a record for that track but also another achievement added to many for the Brit who has now won half the races he has competed in at the Hungagoring.

Elsewhere the main battle this season seems to be between the next two best teams as Ferrari and Red Bull once again battled it out for the remaining top places and this week it was the Austrian team who would be much happier.

Daniel Ricciardo clinched the last podium place after holding off Sebastian Vettel and behind them the Red Bull was once again in front as Max Verstappen just about edged out Kimi Raikkonen, although the Finn was not happy with how he did it when he tried to overtake him with one lap to go. A mini rivalry of old versus new is developing between those two.

Kimi did very well to be challenging that high after qualifying in 14th the day before in what was a strange qualifying session.

The heavens opened up numerous times and near enough flooded everyone out, causing lots of delays as the red flag came out probably too many times. It was quite clear the weather was awful just by looking at the safety car trying to swim its way around the track. Instead of waiting for it to be clear and then start the qualifying properly it seemed a little rushed and created minor chaos as the teams try to put a lap time in. There was some excitement when, soon after starting, the rain somehow picked up even more and meant that the top three teams drivers had only set a slow lap in worse conditions, meaning they were in the drop zone in Q1. However the red flag was flown and we all had to just wonder how much fun it would have been to see the Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull start at the back of the grid.

Qualifying dragged on with multiple stoppages in what felt like a throwback to the old days when we would sit and watch what seemed like seven hours of cars going round a track only for Michael Schumacher to clock the best time right at the end. This wasn’t quite as tedious but it was far too long.

There was some drama at the end though as Hamilton looked like he could have smashed a great time out for pole before Fernando Alonso spun with a few corners to go. He slowed down as did everyone else, however Rosberg went on to get pole with a quicker time. It did seem like he was going too quick through yellow flags and eventually the stewards looked in to the matter but he was cleared of any wrongdoing.

To the race and it was a clean start from the top five. It was one of those rare occasions where there were no collisions between anyone and the line up stayed pretty much as it started. Ricciardo went round the outside to overtake the two Mercs in turn one but couldn’t make it stick as Hamilton, who had just a slightly better start than his teammate.

After the McLaren’s had a fine performance on Saturday, starting the race 7th and 8th, it all went Pete Tong for Jenson Button as he had a brake problem that looked to have finished his race early. After he dropped back he was then told to stay out as the problem fixed itself only for the British driver to get a drive through penalty in relation to this rather daft new rule which doesn’t allow drivers and their team to talk to each other properly to…you know…actually get the best out of a car for a better race…

Button would eventually retire the car with seven laps left and was the only driver to do so. His teammate had a very consistent weekend as Alonso finished 7th in all three practice session, qualifying and the race.

The other Brit further down the field was looking good to get his first points in Formula 1 but the Renault of Jolyon Palmer spun on lap four with ten laps to go, dropping him down from 10th spot to finish in 13th.

The majority of the action in the later stages was dominated by the battle for 5th as Raikkonen chased down Verstappen for the second race in a row. The Finn almost overtook the Dutchmen in turn one of the second to last lap but was squeezed out, leading to another sweary rant from Kimi. It does feel like there has been a few more uses of the bleep sound affect on team radio this season, especially from Vettel. I’m not too sure if the drivers are getting more frustrated or if the TV producers want to spice things up a bit.

The race and the final results played out much like how the constructors table is looking like after the checkered flag dropped. The Mercedes were well ahead and the Red Bulls just got their noses in front of the Ferrari’s.

It looks like the Red Bulls will only get stronger from here which will be hugely disappointing for Ferrari who wanted to challenge and close the gap on Mercedes rather than be dragged further behind in a battle with anyone else. The two young drivers for Red Bull are getting better by the race and look like they may overtake the prancing horses as they closed the gap in the constructors championship to just one point. They look set for a very exciting future, not just this season but also beyond. Ferrari however have just confirmed Raikkonen will be again racing in red next season at the grand age of 37, almost twenty years older than Verstappen. A strange decision to some maybe, but the other options, at the moment, do not seem any better.

But once again Hamilton was on top of the podium throwing his winner’s trophy high in the air. A nice trophy it is too, compared to some of the tediously silly ones you have now which are just a big metal bank logo. And kudos to Kai Ebel, the German presenter who did the interviews wearing bright yellow trousers. As someone who owns trousers in a similar colour, this writer approves. More fun trousers on the podium from now on please.

Hamilton’s third consecutive win has now propelled him to the top of the drivers championship table. He looks a lot happier and relaxed after a frustrating start to the season and it will be interesting to see if he lets the top spot slip now he has got there for the first time this year.

There is a quick turnaround now as the German GP takes place next week. The pressure will be on Rosberg to win his home race (I say home race, he has an Austrian Father and grew up in Monaco but who am I to judge) and get back to the top of the standings.