GRAND PRIX : Hungary : This One is for Jules

Posted on August 2, 2015.

He kept it all together when the others were falling apart
At the start both Ferraris forced their way to the front
Jules Bianchi in his Ferrari overalls at the 2014 Silverstone test

Report by Jack Target

The illusion of invincibility has been smashed. Both on and off the track, this weekend in Hungary was a key reminder of life’s mystique and unpredictability. From Friday through to close on Sunday the motor racing world paid its tributes to Jules Bianchi, the first driver since Ayrton Senna to tragically lose their life from racing, an incident we thought would never happen again. Then on the track the usually dominant Mercedes finished outside the podium places.

It was a weekend we all hoped for. We got yet another exciting race, the championship standings took an interesting turn and Ferrari, Bianchi’s former team, grabbed their second win of the season thanks to Sebastian Vettel’s excellent drive. The drivers wanted to go and put on a show that we know F1 racing can be in respect to the young friend they had lost. To a future Ferrari driver. To possibly a future World Champion. That they certainly did.

The Brits usually have a good record in Hungary, many of them winning their first race there. In the last nine years a British driver has won six times, Lewis Hamilton with four of those victories. Lewis had been on the podium for every race so far this season and only finished third once. Qualifying proved he was ready to keep the British flag flying in pole position.

His qualifying lap was already good before he breezed round again to finish over half a second ahead of his teammate Nico Rosberg. It was a majestic lap. Surely no one could stop him on race day. Elsewhere we heard that Red Bull had some major upgrades and wanted to bring the battle to Williams and Ferrari in a ‘best of the rest’ contest. Daniel Ricciardo grabbed fourth splitting the two Ferrari’s on the second row.

McLaren’s struggles continued as Jenson Button missed out on Q2 and Fernando Alonso’s car decided to unhelpfully stop working. He gained cheers and respect from fans for his efforts to try and push the car back to the pits in order for him to get back on track but it was all in vain. It was a refreshing sight from the one we usually see when drivers often get out of their car and leave it to be picked up later. It also brought out a great tweet from Lotus F1, who has stated before are the best F1 team when it comes to Twitter, who told Alonso to push faster.

So to race day and again a lovely tribute to Jules. A minutes silence was taken by the drivers, embraced with their arms around each other in a circle around their helmets. Members of Bianchi’s family completed the circle and completed the fitting tribute by placing Jules’ helmet in the middle. All that was needed was a race to make him smile.

I’m sure he would have been smiling along with the Ferrari fans as the two prancing horses sprinted their way to the front as the race started. Again Hamilton had let a lead slip in to the first corner, but this time we had a Ferrari 1-2! When was the last time we said that?!

It actually looked like Nico had taken it from the Brit but Vettel got off very quickly and was stubborn, not moving an inch and squeezing out the two Mercedes to take the lead. For Hamilton things went from bad to worse as he went off the track and fell down the pecking order.

It is clear safety is big on everyone’s mind at the moment and it showed when Nico Hulkenberg crashed his car into the tyre wall off the main straight. An excellent decision was made to send the cars through the pit lane as the debris was cleared. It was quite simple but it was another subtle step taken to insure we maximise the safest possible options.

As the race restarted the drama really kicked in all the way to the finish. Kimi Raikkonen’s car struggled with power and was easily overtaken by Rosberg with others to come. However Ricciardo and Hamilton clashed sending the Brit even further back and, after a drive through penalty, found himself out of the points with a huge mountain to climb. Rumoured elected heir to a Ferrari seat next season, Valtteri Bottas of Williams, also got caught up in the melee when his wheel was punctured by Max Verstappen’s front wing. Kimi ended up going into the pits to try and fix his power issue but it was not enough and he had to retire from the race. Whichever Finn drives for Ferrari next season, we all hope they have better luck in 2016!

It seemed like no matter how many laps went by, the time between the top two remained at about a second as Sebastian controlled the remainder of the race to earn Ferrari their second win of the season. This was helpful for Lewis too, as he managed to get back into the points and keep hold of a what we thought would be a slender championship lead in front of his teammate who was in second.

That is what we thought until Ricciardo locked up and clipped the back of Rosberg causing a puncture in the German’s car and ended his chance of really denting Hamilton’s championship lead. He ended up finishing behind Hamilton in eighth.

A podium without Mercedes, who would have thought it! Red Bull announced they were back with a bang with a fabulous result filling the podium behind Vettel. Daniil Kvyat was able to take advantage of the collision between his teammate and Rosberg to finish second. And also a special mention for McLaren who, after all the troubles they had this weekend let along this season, managed to finish both cars in the points with Alonso finishing 5th.

But in the end, after all the excitement, Vettel dictated the pace upfront and got his first win at the Hungarian track and his second of the season. He celebrated with a tribute to Bianchi saying over the radio, firstly in French, that was victory was for him and then in English told us “You will always be in our hearts. We know sooner or later you would have been in this team”. He may not have raced in the famous red of Ferrari, but his future was in Scuderia Ferrari. With the team Bianchi started with winning the race, one of his closest friends Ricciardo and the latest young talent all on the podium, this was a perfect result for Jules.

From great sadness to great joy as Ferrari picked up the win at the Hungaroring. Oh yes the topsy turvy world of Formula 1 continues smash illusions. Let it all continue when we come back from the summer break for Spa.

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