The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

GRAND PRIX: Hungary: Vettel Extends Lead

11-08-2017

By Jack Target

It looks like Sebastian Vettel can relax a little easier now after his victory in Hungary extended his championship lead. 

A disastrous end to the British GP two weeks ago left the Ferrari driver just one point clear of Lewis Hamilton, but a near perfect weekend saw the German increase his lead to 14 points. 

It wasn’t without some drama as team orders nearly came in to play but the Scuderia got their one-two with plenty of action between teammates further down the field.

Once again the week started with major news off the track. This time it was the FIA who were causing a media storm as they announced that the ‘halo’ safety device will be introduced for the 2018 season. The halo has been much criticised due to the fact it looks rather ugly. There has been a few other designs and even Ferrari tested a clear windscreen at Silverstone recently. I think we all knew something was coming but the announcement to go with the haloprior to testing it took quite a few people by surprise. But safety is paramount. For all the criticism it gets, the drivers will be safer. There were some people complaining about it from a safety point of view, but if it looked amazing I doubt those opinions would be heard very often. It does feel like the FIA were forced in to making a decision and this was the best of a bad bunch. We can only hope that a better alternative will be developed in time for the following season. 

The other major bit of news came from Formula E as Mercedes and then Audi, Porsche and BMW will join the sport in the future. Let’s not get too worried, Formula 1 is still King and will continue to do so. Some reporters and fans have even mentioned that this could be worrying for F1, especially after Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne mentioned that one of the Fiat group could be interested, just not Ferrari. I however believe this is a very good sign for Formula 1. We know the sport is heading that way at some point and eventually F1 will just absorb its electric sister. With the teams on board at this stage they will hopefully be willing to join F1 on the main stage. For a motor racing series it does seem rather sad that less than half of the teams are actually car manufacturers. We will have to watch this space.

To the weekend’s action and we saw another back up British driver return to the track as Paul Di Resta stepped in for an unwell Felipe Massa in the Williams. He obviously wasn’t quite up to speed in these new 2017 cars and went out in the first qualifying session before having to retire the car on Sunday with just seven laps to go. 

What was surprising though was the Force India’s missing out on Q3 and the McLaren’s both making it in. In fact McLaren had a fine weekend with both drivers collecting points and Fernando Alonso finishing 6th and ending the race with the fastest lap. As Anthony Davidson said in commentary, if you give him a few more horsepower he could make that car a challenger. Things have improved for the team after their early struggles, but this was on a track that suited their reliability issues. 

Qualifying ended with Lewis Hamilton breaking the lap record, only for Vettel to do it soon after. Then Kimi Raikkonen made sure of a Ferrari lock-out when the lights went out on Sunday. 

It took just two corners for us to have our first incident on race day as the two Red Bulls were involved in a collision which left Daniel Ricciardo with a burst radiator and a punctured tyre. The Aussie was clearly quite unhappy and once again the fans were deprived of some bullish fighting from the Red Bulls. Replays showed that it was quite clearly Max Verstappen’s fault and his ten second penalty in the end cost him at least a podium place. Ricciardo was talking in the build up to the race how he was not going to hold back and how he really fancied his chances, so it was easy to see why he looked so cheesed of after having that goal ruined so early on by your own teammate. Apparently they had a chat after the race and everything is peachy…

There was a few incidents with the Haas drivers as Grosjean had to leave the race after a wheel nut got crossed after a pit stop. His teammate, Kevin Magnussen had an entertaining exchange with the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg which led to one of the most bizarre insults we may have heard in F1. I cannot repeat it here but you can look it up elsewhere…honey.

Back at the top and Vettel went in for the pit stop first after struggling with his tyres. Kimi was very eager to stay out, believing he had the speed to carry on and could potentially get in front of his teammate. Unfortunately for the Finn Ferrari were having none of it and sent him in soon after, coming out just behind the German. This proved to be an almost silly move as Raikkonen started to catch Vettel and was going quicker than him. Ferrari were in a quandary as they would want Vettel, the driver fighting for the title, to win the race but now they were both being caught up by the two Mercedes drivers. 

Things got a bit more awkward when Mercedes let Hamilton go in front of Bottas to see if he could catch the Ferraris out front, but had to give his place back if he was unable to get past them. Maurizio Arrivabene’s legs must have been twitching in beat with Christian Horner’s as Hamilton immediately reduced the gap to two seconds.

But the gap wouldn’t get any smaller. By doing nothing, Ferrari somehow managed to get the perfect result. Vettel managed his wounded car extremely well and was able to win the race without too much pressure. Not only was this good for Ferrari, but Seb was able to celebrate on the top step with a 14 point lead after Hamilton did give Bottas back 3rd place on the last lap. 

After the implosion at the end of Silverstone, this was a the perfect way for the team to head in to the summer break. They can breathe a little easier now and hope they can chase the silver arrows in the constructors when we return to racing in Belgium towards the end of August, then the much anticipated home race in Monza.