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Hungarian Grand Prix 2016: Hamilton in control as Mercedes dominate

Hamilton leads home a Mercedes 1-2.


Lewis Hamilton secured victory, and more importantly the Championship lead, with a dominant drive around the Hungaroring, with Nico Rosberg following him in second in what was an untroubled day for the Mercedes team.

It was a close run first corner as both Rosberg and Hamilton got away well, but the Red Bulls came out of the blocks flying. Whilst Verstappen saw his route through closed off, Ricciardo took the outside line to take second, with Hamilton snatching the lead on the inside. Yet Rosberg was unperturbed, and fought back to regain second with a brave move on Ricciardo around the outside of turn two.

For Button, a topsy-turvy season took another downturn as a loss of hydraulics forced him back from eighth to last, although he was able to continue. However, the RC brigade (Radio Correctness for you and me) put him under investigation for over communicating this info, resulting in a drive through penalty adding to his woes. With both McLaren’s running high after a great qualifying, another mechanical issue to Button was the last thing either he or the team needed.

In a race that quickly settled into routine, Vettel made the first strategic move when he made the first pit on lap 15. Red Bull took the bait and pitted Ricciardo next lap, leaving Verstappen to complete another round on the old super softs. As the youngest driver in F1 history completed his stop, not only did he find he’d lost his place to the four time champion, but was also behind one of the most experienced in Raikkonen, who’d started on the soft tyres and worked his way back up the grid. The experience of the former champion showed as he was able to hold off the attacking Verstappen through the first few corners, and cement the gains made by both himself and Vettel in the pit window.

At the front it was no change through the pits, however Hamilton struggled with the fresh soft tyres, losing time to both Rosberg and the chasing Ricciardo. However, the hope for the chasing pack was in vain, as he managed to stabilise his gap on Rosberg to 1.5 seconds and Ricciardo to about five seconds.

Raikkonen finally took his first stop on lap 30, but opting to stay on a two stop strategy, compared to the other soft-starters of Massa and Perez moving onto one stop (both later abandoned the medium tyres). With a prompt overtake of Alonso, Raikkonen put himself back up to sixth, where he had held Verstappen for so long.

Tyre strategy came into play again, with Ricciardo catching the Mercedes slowly but surely, the Silver Arrows warned Hamilton that they may have to break from the norm and bring Rosberg in first to protect the 1—2. With Red Bull pulling Ricciardo in for his final stop, the Mercedes team held their nerve and left both their drivers out until lap 43, nullifying the potential undercut and holding the positions with ease.

Further down the field, and an impressive day for Renault, saw Palmer pushing Hulkenberg’s Force India for 11th, scoring a great cut in the pit lane itself with a fantastic stop. However, all good things come to an end, and Palmer became the first driver to take a spin, a costly mistake at turn four on lap 49, dropping him from tenth to 14th, ultimately blowing his chance of a first point.

One of the big issues of the day was the reluctance of back markers to move under blue flags. Vettel had been on the radio on numerous occasions to complain, and on lap 53 Gutierrez took far too long to allow the leaders through, helping Rosberg close the gap to under half a second.

Meanwhile Raikkonen’s different strategy was paying off, with a change to a second set of super softs that allowed him to get on the tail of Verstappen. However, much like their battle earlier on, overtaking proved nigh on impossible. However, questions could be asked about Verstappen’s movement on defending towards turn two, where Raikkonen felt Verstappen switched lines twice, resulting in contact between the two. Raikkonen was later forced wide at turn one as once again Verstappen looked to have made a late change on his defending line, prompting possibly the longest radio broadcast Kimi has ever made, doing well to keep it to one swear word.

So with only a few laps remaining, there were potentially three battles taking place on the track: Hamilton/Rosberg for the win; Ricciardo/Vettel for third and the aforementioned Verstappen/Raikkonen battle. However, Hungary’s reputation for difficult overtaking is not without merit, and despite all three battles having less than a second in it, there was never any real prospect of positions changing on the last few laps, as Hamilton made it five wins around this circuit, and five in his last six races, to head to Germany with his nose in front for the first time in this season’s compelling Championship.

Pos.

#

Driver

Chassis

Engine

Gap

1

44

 Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes

Mercedes

2

6

 Nico Rosberg

Mercedes

Mercedes

1.977

3

3

 Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull

TAG

27.539

4

5

 Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari

Ferrari

28.213

5

33

 Max Verstappen

Red Bull

TAG

48.659

6

7

 Kimi Raikkonen

Ferrari

Ferrari

49.044

7

14

 Fernando Alonso

McLaren

Honda

1 lap

8

55

 Carlos Sainz Jr

Toro Rosso

Ferrari

1 lap

9

77

 Valtteri Bottas

Williams

Mercedes

1 lap

10

27

 Nico Hulkenberg

Force India

Mercedes

1 lap

11

11

 Sergio Perez

Force India

Mercedes

1 lap

12

30

 Jolyon Palmer

Renault

Renault

1 lap

13

21

 Esteban Gutierrez

Haas

Ferrari

1 lap

14

8

 Romain Grosjean

Haas

Ferrari

1 lap

15

20

 Kevin Magnussen

Renault

Renault

1 lap

16

26

 Daniil Kvyat

Toro Rosso

Ferrari

1 lap

17

12

 Felipe Nasr

Sauber

Ferrari

1 lap

18

19

 Felipe Massa

Williams

Mercedes

2 laps

19

94

 Pascal Wehrlein

Manor

Mercedes

2 laps

20

9

 Marcus Ericsson

Sauber

Ferrari

2 laps

21

88

 Rio Haryanto

Manor

Mercedes

2 laps

 Ret

22

Jenson Button

McLaren

Honda

10 laps

 

Chris Raftery

Work-shy former civil servant and politics graduate with an eye for an awful pun and a penchant for putting obscure music references in my articles. Never one to miss a play on words, always one to miss a deadline.

 

Can be found on twitter at @cpraf, but it's about as much use as following a tortoise with no legs.

Hungarian Grand Prix 2016: Hamilton in control as Mercedes dominate

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