A red start
Everyone knows how important it is especially in Hungary to get a good start. That is exactly what Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel did. They shot out of the grid when the lights turned green, leaving the Mercedes and Red Bulls to scramble for third place. The biggest loser in the start was, of course, Daniel Ricciardo, who retired after a collision with his teammate Max Verstappen. The Dutchman received a 10-second penalty for the collision. Lewis Hamilton also lost a lot in the start, failing to overtake anyone and actually falling behind Verstappen. Both Ferraris had great pace and left the otherfs in the dust.
Pit stop mania
From the top five, Valtteri Bottas opened the pit game on lap 31. His stop was a bit long as the front left didn’t lock in place on first try. Bottas was followed by Hamilton on the next lap and then Sebastian Vettel a lap later. Kimi Raikkonen had great speed and got to lead a single lap, but pitting only one lap after his teammate, the Finn just got overtaken by Vettel when exiting the pit. Max Verstappen had risen to first place still without stopping, but he was going to fall far behind with his 10-second penalty.
After the pit stops, both Mercedes had good speed and Hamilton was catching Bottas fairly quickly. Vettel was suffering from steering problems, which was pushing him and Raikkonen, who was subsequently behind him, back towards the two Mercedes.
Team orders but healthy racing
When the top four were all tightly together, Bottas simply couldn’t overtake Raikkonen. Therefore Bottas let Hamilton try to overtake the Ferraris after being promised the Brit would give third place back if he couldn’t overtake. Raikkonen seemed to have more speed than Vettel in the lead but Ferrari were determined to keep the championship leader ahead. Bottas had quickly fallen far behind Hamilton but after Hamilton couldn’t quickly make a move, Valtteri tried hard to get back behind Lewis to get his podium spot back. Max Verstappen had however slowly crept up to Bottas and was creating a threat for the position change.
Over the last 10 laps, the tight top three overtook numerous blue-flagged cars, but neither Kimi Raikkonen nor Lewis Hamilton could overtake the car in front of them. On the last laps, Raikkonen pressured Vettel to speed up, as Hamilton closed down on him, almost breaking the magical one second difference.
In the end the battle died down and Hamilton even let Bottas past in the final turn to keep his word. For that, hats off to him as the points he gave up could end up being decisive when the season ends.
How could Raikkonen, Bottas or Hamilton have won?
Kimi Raikkonen could have won by two ways. One, by disobeying Ferrari’s call to pit right after Sebastian Vettel. Kimi had the speed to continue and overcut Vettel, which he complained about on the team radio after being forced to pit. Ferrari clearly wanted to secure Vettel’s win as well as the 1-2 win for the team, as Vettel couldn’t most likely have kept Hamilton behind. Secondly, Raikkonen could have won by taking pole on Saturday and blasting off into the distance right from the start. This is something he confessed in the post-race interview with Finnish media.
Lewis could have won by taking a better start, overtaking Bottas and possibly even Raikkonen. If he would have been able to challenge Vettel from the beginning, the German’s problems could have given Hamilton the chance to win.
Bottas had a difficult drive yesterday, but earned his third place by keeping Verstappen behind. There wasn’t much he could have done to win, but a better start could have meant a completely different race. Yet, with the start shaking out as it did, and the “Iceman” staying true to team orders, it was essentially Vettel’s race to lose from the opening lap onwards.
Do you think anyone other than Vettel could have triumphed in Hungary? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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