Hungarian Grand Prix 2014
After dominating the Friday sessions, Hamilton spectacularly departed from his second consecutive Q1 in a cloud of flames, forcing the team to replace the survival cell and every engine component. Maldonado also failed to set a time in Q1 as his Lotus lost drive. Hamilton was forced to start at the back of what became quite a queue in the pits, while Maldonado held last on the grid. Also falling in Q1 were Ericsson 20th, Chilton 19th, Kobayashi 18th and Raikkonen 17th after an incredible lap from Bianchi.
A hydraulic issue took Perez out of Q2, his teammate having suffered a similar problem that morning. Perez at least managed to set a time so still outqualified Gutierrez, Grosjean and Bianchi – the Marussia barely worth taking out of the garage for that session.Sutil edged Perez for 12th, while Kvyat just missed the cut in 11th.
Rain created drama early in Q3, seeing drivers tentatively try staying on slicks. Rosberg, first in line, slid wide at turn 1. As he got out of the firing line Magnussen shot off, locked up and slammed into the tyre wall. Teammate Button, wearing his Pink for Papa helmet for what would have been John Button's 71st birthday, narrowly missed following the sister car into the barrier. Typically his first reaction beyond avoiding the wall was to ask how Kevin was – thankfully aside from his pride he was unhurt, although the same could not be said of the McLaren which started at the head of the queue in the pits after failing to set a time.
Hulkenberg completed an anonymous Saturday for Force India in 9th, with Vergne 8th, Button 7th, Massa 6th alongside former teammate Alonso. Ricciardo took 4th, Bottas 3rd, Vettel 2nd and after what seemed a close fight, Rosberg took pole by more than half a second.
Kvyat failed to get away on the warm up lap and had to start from the pits. Thankfully the actual start had no such problems and once the initial shuffling was over Rosberg led Bottas, Alonso, Vettel, Button, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg. At the back of the pack Hamilton came out of the pits and promptly stuffed the car into the wall at turn 2. The car was mostly unharmed and he continued. His brakes were simply too cold at this point.
Vettel soon managed to retake Alonso, while Raikkonen had climbed to 13th. Hamilton relieved Raikkonen of 13th on lap 8, despite missing a fair chunk of his front wing. The bigger drama of the lap, however, was Ericsson losing the car on a wet patch and flying into the wall out of turn 3, scattering Caterham debris all over the track. Unsurprisingly the Safety Car was scrambled. As it was about to pull in on lap 10 – after a round of pit stops that demoted the top 4 as they were already past the pit entrance – Grosjean binned it at the same place. Only at the end of lap 13 did the Safety Car finally depart.
Button immediately jumped Ricciardo, the McLaren drivers being the only two with fresh inters rather than slicks as McLaren judged the weather differently to the rest of the paddock. It didn’t take long for them to see their error and call the boys in, but it was too late to salvage an impressive result.
Perez ran wide and lost his place to Vettel, Hamilton also sneaking through before the Force India could recover.
Vergne managed to overtake Rosberg for 6th, before Hulkenberg tried to overtake his teammate and instead hit Perez and took himself out of the race. Maldonado then tried to clear Bianchi but they collided and both had to pit for damage.
Perez piled into the wall on the pit straight, leaving Force India on a low point after their first scoreless race of the year. The resulting Safety Car left Alonso leading from Vergne, Rosberg, Vettel and Hamilton, with earlier leader Ricciardo the first on fresh rubber in 6th. Kobayashi pulled off at turn 12 and retired.
Rosberg pitted and Vettel nearly emulated Perez' departure from the race, miraculously saving it. He slotted in again behind Massa in 7th. Rosberg rejoined further down behind Bottas.
Gutierrez retired with an MGU-K failure.
Hamilton was struggling to clear Vergne, finally taking 2nd after a far longer time than one would expect a Mercedes to take against a Toro Rosso.
Vettel pitted after his spin, aiming to go half the race on the one set of tyres to fix the loss.
A lap later Vergne pitted, rejoining between Rosberg and Maldonado. Button was in 3 laps later on lap 37, while Rosberg finally cleared Bottas. The following lap Alonso pitted, rejoining behind Raikkonen in 5th. Hamilton dropped to 5th a lap later after his own stop. Raikkonen stayed 3rd until lap 41 when he pitted and fell to 8th behind Maldonado. It took just over a lap for him to clear the Lotus, at which point Maldonado then pitted and dropped behind Kvyat.
Massa's stop dropped him below Bottas, the Williams pair 5th and 6th behind Hamilton and Rosberg, the former being ordered to let his teammate through. He refused, in the end Rosberg being pitted a lap after Ricciardo and dropping the Australian to 3rd, the German to 7th. Bottas then pitted and dropped to 8th, while Rosberg jumped Raikkonen. He took 4th from Massa soon after but would get no further.
Ricciardo in 3rd managed to scythe past Hamilton and Alonso, taking his second win from the Mercedes and the Ferrari. Rosberg, Massa, Raikkonen, Vettel, Bottas, Vergne and Button completed the top ten. Sutil, Magnussen, Maldonado, Kvyat, Bianchi and Chilton rounded out the remaining cars, while Gutierrez led Kobayashi, Perez, Hulkenberg, Grosjean and Ericsson in retirement.
Going into the summer break Rosberg still leads the championship but Hamilton's deficit has been reduced. It seems the final eight races will see a close fight to the end, but behind the Mercedes cars it will be even closer between Red Bull, Ferrari and Williams. My heart is hoping for Williams to triumph but only time will tell.