By Stephen Williams
Written in association with Missed Apex Podcast. Listen in the player below the article and please don't forget to comment.
Nico Rosberg may have taken pole on Saturday, but the session was far from simple for all the drivers. Qualifying eventually took place after a twenty minute delay due to severe rain. In total, there were four red flags, three crashes, and it was Nico Rosberg who set the fastest lap, although somewhat controversially.
Lewis Hamilton was on provisional pole after the first runs in qualifying three, but was held up on his last lap because Fernando Alonso spun on a damp patch. Rosberg was further behind, lifted off as he entered the yellow flag zone, and by the time he reached the area where Alonso had spun, the Spaniard was back on his way. Despite the lift, the track was still drying and he carried on his lap to snatch pole position. Double waved yellow flags do mean slow down and be prepared to stop, but the stewards decided there had been enough of a lift, even though he set a purple middle sector.
The two Mercedes sat on the front row with the two Red Bulls behind. As the five red lights dimmed, Hamilton pulled alongside Rosberg and took the inside line into turn one. Ricciardo behind braked later than the Mercedes and the three of them went side by side around turn one. Rosberg was squeezed out in the middle but recovered back to second, overtaking Ricciardo around the outside of turn two. Hamilton broke the drs zone to Rosberg before managing a gap to his championship rival.
Button appeared to slow on the start finish straight and the team informed the Brit that he had lost hydraulic pressure. This lead to a drive through penalty as the team instructed him not to shift, breaking the revised rule that teams are only allowed to instruct their drivers how to fix problems when they are in the pit lane. Button then complained on the radio that the drive through was unfair because the brake pedal going to the floor was a safety issue, and thus should not have received a penalty.
Vettel was the first of the leaders to pit, returning to the track just ahead of his teammate running longer on the soft tyres. The following lap saw Ricciardo cover the stop from Vettel, and he came out ahead of the German. Hamilton and Verstappen then pitted but the Dutchman rejoined behind Raikkonen after a slow stop. Attempting an overtake around the outside of turn two on the Finn was ambitious, and Raikkonen firmly shut the door.
Hamilton appeared to be struggling on his new soft tyres and Rosberg closed, nearly into drs range. Behind Rosberg, Ricciardo was catching them both quickly. Raikkonen remained ahead of Verstappen, even though he was on much older tyres, and the Red Bull had drs. When he did eventually stop, he fitted one set of the three super soft tyres he had available, and rejoined behind Fernando Alonso. On the next lap, Alonso went defensive into turn one, but ran wide, allowing the Finn to undercut his former teammate for sixth position.
Mercedes informed Hamilton that he needed to pick up the pace as Rosberg was being caught by Ricciardo, and the team were fearful that Ricciardo would be able to undercut Rosberg. Despite Ricciardo pitting first, Mercedes chose not to cover the stop immediately as Hamilton's pace improved.
Such was Hamilton's improved pace, they both returned after their stops in first and second, comfortably ahead of Ricciardo. Palmer went for a spin at turn four, which dropped him out of the points. Traffic was becoming an issue for all the leaders. Gutierrez failed to move over for Hamilton, which moved Rosberg into drs range, but Hamilton pulled out a gap again.
Raikkonen stopped for super soft tyres again and hunted down Verstappen. Contact was made into turn two when Raikkonen looked to the inside, then darted to the outside, Max reacted but Kimi ran into the back of the Red Bull and sustained front wing end plate damage. Despite the damage, he caught straight back up to Verstappen who was lucky not to receive a puncture. Another attempt by Raikkonen almost ended in disaster as Max defended his line into turn one, and Raikkonen was forced to run wide. Meanwhile, there was another battle between a Red Bull and Ferrari. Vettel closed to within a second of Ricciardo, but did not have enough time to get through.
Hamilton took the chequered flag for the fifth time in Hungary to become the most successful driver around the Hungaroring, but more importantly, he took the lead in the championship for the first time this season. Ricciardo took his first podium since Monaco ahead of Vettel, Verstappen and Raikkonen in the other Ferrari. A solid seventh for Alonso ahead of Sainz, Bottas and Hulkenberg who rounded out the points.
Rate the race - 6/10
Highlight - Kimi and Max battling on track
Lowlight - Palmer throwing away points
Driver of the day - Lewis Hamilton