Vettel and Ferrari win for Bianchi

2015 Hungarian Grand Prix review

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In times of tragedy, some draw comfort from the belief that the departed never really leave us.

If that is so, then from his celestial vantage point Jules Bianchi must have reflected that the Hungarian Grand Prix was a race he really could have done something with.

It was a day for the underdogs and the unfancied, not unlike that race in Monaco last year where he and Marussia achieved the improbable. And in a fitting result, it was won by the team Bianchi was destined to drive for one day, had cruel fortune not taken him away.

Before the grand prix Bianchi’s former rivals, joined by his family, assembled in a circle in a minute of silent respect for him. But when the time came to race, they delivered one of most intense grands prix we have seen for some time.

Ferrari to the fore

For the second race in a row Mercedes were swamped at the start. Starting from the clean side of the grid Sebastian Vettel drew alongside Lewis Hamilton then eased him away from the racing line, braked deep and late for the first corner and swept around the silver cars into the lead.

With Nico Rosberg on his right and the Ferraris on his left, Hamilton braked cautiously for the first corner and fell to fourth place. And as both Mercedes drivers scrabbled for grip on the outside of turn two, Kimi Raikkonen followed his team mate through to cement Ferrari’s grip on the top two places.

Just when things looked like they couldn’t get worse for Hamilton, they did. Approaching the turn six chicane for the first time, and perhaps distracted by his team mate covering the inside line, Hamilton snatched a brake, dropped a wheel onto the grass and bumped across the gravel trap and rejoined the queue of cars in tenth place. His hopes of a record-breaking fifth Hungarian Grand Prix had been shot to pieces within a minute of the lights going out.

At the end of lap one Vettel had a second in hand over his team mate and Rosberg was already three seconds behind. Valtteri Bottas had moved up to fourth place and Nico Hulkenberg joined him in the top five by slipstreaming past Daniil Kvyat’s Red Bull, which was sparking like a fairground dodgem over the bumps at turn one.

Kvyat had locked his tyres heavily the first time he touched the brakes after the start. Now he was sandwiched between the Force India and Daniel Ricciardo, who had lost ground on lap one after making contact with Bottas.

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“Let Ricciardo through”

Red Bull swiftly took the decision to change the running order of their drivers. Kvyat took quite a bit of cajoling on the radio, cursing in frustration after being repeatedly told to “let Ricciardo through”.

Kvyat pitted early on lap 13 to replace his flat-spotted tyres. This promoted Hamilton to seventh, having passed Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez with the help of DRS. He demoted Nico Hulkenberg next, and following his lap 19 pit stop for another set of soft tyres the championship leader had a firm hold on fifth place.

Up ahead the usual Mercedes pace was not in evidence as Rosberg dropped back from the Ferraris. He pitted on the lap after Hamilton, prior to which he had been almost ten seconds behind the race leader.

Mercedes opted to switch Rosberg onto the harder tyres for his middle stint, planning to get him back on the softs at the end of the race. Ferrari stuck to the standard strategy, putting both their cars on softs for the next stint, which allowed them to shore up their advantage.

However it threatened to leave them vulnerable in the event of a late Safety Car period, which is exactly what happened.

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Hulkenberg’s big scare

Force India had already suffered one alarming car failure on Friday when a suspension breakage on Perez’s car pitched him into the barriers and then up onto his roll hoop. On lap 42, five laps after switching to medium tyres for his final stint, it was Nico Hulkenberg’s turn to get an unwelcome surprise.

Approaching the braking zone for turn one, Hulkenberg’s front wing dropped from its mountings. Fortunately it destroyed itself so comprehensively that Hulkenberg’s front wheels, having initially been lifted into the air, returned to the ground, allowing him to shed vital speed before spearing into two rows of tyres. But it was an alarming incident, and the second front wing failure of the weekend, Raikkonen’s having done the same at turn 12 on Friday.

The Virtual Safety Car was deployed initially and Mercedes responded immediately, Rosberg hitting his marks before Hulkenberg had even had chance to climb from his car. But the speed with which the decision to pit was made gave them little chance to reconsider their default tyre choice of a further set of medium tyres.

After Rosberg rejoined the track, the VSC was replaced with a real Safety Car, allowing the field to run through the pits and avoid the debris-strewn front stretch. This also erased Rosberg’s 22 second deficit to Vettel, and Mercedes rued the missed chance to put him on softs to attack them for the win.

However one of the Ferraris was already vulnerable. An MGU-K fault on Raikkonen’s car slowed him from lap 41, and the appearance of the Safety Car destroyed his valuable margin over the rest of the top ten. Rosberg passed him with ease when the race resumed, and sooner afterwards Raikkonen headed to the pits for the first of several unsuccessful attempts to fix the problem.

Ricciardo versus Mercedes

The restart brought an onslaught of breathless action which looked more like something from an IndyCar race. Hamilton had Rosberg in his sights but the pair were destined not to cross paths. While Rosberg set about passing Raikkonen, Hamilton came under attack from a soft-shod Ricciardo.

At turn one Ricciardo ducked to the outside but Hamilton out-braked himself and thumped into the side of the Red Bull. This put Hamilton’s recovery effort in serious peril – his front wing was badly damaged and the stewards would shortly hand down a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact.

Climbing the hill out of turn three Kvyat accelerated past Bottas but ran wide in turn four, where Hamilton was also exploring the run-off area. As they rejoined Kvyat nipped past the Mercedes driver – earning himself a ten-second penalty. While they went side-by-side into turn five Bottas tried to line the pair of them up for a run at the exit, only to be tagged by Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso.

Bottas out-braked Hamilton at the chicane but the Williams driver’s right-rear tyre was exhaling its last, and two turns later Hamilton was back through. Both would soon require attention in the pits, however.

By the time Hamilton had taken a new front wing and served his penalty, car number 44 was out of the points and Rosberg’s second-placed Mercedes was poised to take the championship lead. But now it was Rosberg’s turn to hit Ricciardo-shaped trouble.

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Ricciardo versus Mercedes: Part two

Although his Adrian Newey-designed RB11 now carried some Lewis Hamilton-styled aerodynamic modifications, Ricciardo hunted down the other Mercedes. With five laps to go he had second place in his sights.

Asking slightly too much of the extra grip afford by his soft tyres, Ricciardo came steaming down the inside of Rosberg, his front-right tyre smoking, and though he made it around the corner Rosberg’s more conventional line saw him regain the initiative. But at the exit of the corner the pair made contact, Ricciardo’s front wing puncturing Rosberg’s tyre.

“I don’t know if he thought he’d cleared me yet,” said Ricciardo, “but we made contact and that was when he earned a puncture and I got the front wing damage.”

Rosberg view’s was that the onus was on Ricciardo to get out of his way. “It was my corner,” he insisted afterwards, “but he still had his front wing there and hit me and I got a puncture.” This version of events was not without irony given what happened at Spa last year. Unsurprisingly, the stewards did not see it that way, ruling that neither driver was “wholly or predominately to blame”.

It cost them both, however – Ricciardo pitted for a new front wing and fell behind Kvyat, while Rosberg limped back to the pits for another set of tyres. This meant Hamilton, who just a few laps earlier had asked his team whether he was now in last place and apologised for his clumsy errors, had jumped back in front of his team mate.

Mercedes had arrived in Hungary looking to take a record-breaking pair of podium finishes. That they failed to do so in a dry race in which neither of their drivers suffered any major technical problems beggared belief.

Maldonado in trouble

There were surprises almost all the way down the running order as the field took the chequered flag. Kvyat held on to second place and his first podium finish despite his penalty. Ricciardo made it two Red Bulls on the podium.

Verstappen, who had served a drive-through penalty for driving too quickly behind the Safety Car, was fourth – though that position might have gone to his team mate had Toro Rosso’s reliability not run true to form.

Fernando Alonso’s McLaren was fifth thanks in part to his switch to soft tyres behind the Safety Car. Jenson Button didn’t do the same and ended up ninth, the two MP4-30s separated by Hamilton, Romain Grosjean (despite a five-second penalty for leaving the pits in an unsafe fashion) and Rosberg. The final point went to Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber.

Behind Felipe Nasr both Williams drivers were still running but out of the points. Massa, 12th, had been penalised five seconds during the race for failing to line up in his grid box and causing an aborted start.

But all of this paled in comparison to Pastor Maldonado, who tallied three penalties for a single race. His rap sheet included causing an avoidable collision with Perez, speeding in the pits and overtaking Will Stevens during the Safety Car period.

“Today is for Jules”

Vettel may have had little idea of the chaos unfolding behind him, and was never troubled at the head of the field all race long. Surprisingly, the Hungaroring was one of few venues on the calendar where he had never won before, despite Red Bull having been so strong at this circuit during his time with them.

It was a victory steeped in significance. Not only did it come at the end of an emotional week for Formula One, but it saw him equal Ayrton Senna’s tally of 41 career wins.

Vettel agreed it was “something incredible” to have drawn level with Senna, but for him the true significance of the result lay elsewhere.

“I don’t know how to put this in words,” he said. “I think nevertheless today is for Jules and his family.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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41 comments on “Vettel and Ferrari win for Bianchi”

  1. Nicely done Ferrari, Seb and even Kimi (poor guy). It was a day full of emotions and a great race.

  2. Just goes to show, a late safety car creates a situation where nursing tyres provides no advantage and drivers have to make gains on the track by attacking and passing rather than running to a delta time away from traffic in order to gain time for a pit stop. There is no reason why the whole race could not be run from the start to the finish without pit stops being advantageous, it only requires better more durable tyres and the abolition of the recently introduced rule requiring drivers to use 2 different sets of tyres, then racers would have to race to succeed.

    1. Partly agree. Not sure if durable tyres and no pit would make more exciting races or just processional events, like we saw in the past. I’d be more inclined to trash that DRS stuff, and probably offer only one type of tyre that would last half the distance.

  3. Great win from Vettel and as much as I don’t like doing a big of a deal from Bianchi’s dead I liked the respect that all the drivers gave towards this great talent. I didn’t though enjoy the race as much as many due to the fact that many of the drivers looked like complete amateurs today including both Mercs. It was exciting but only because “the best drivers in the world” were all over the place crashing their cars instead of giving enough respect to each other and not ruining other’s races.

    1. The drivers from Ferrari, Red-Bull, McLaren & Verstappen made up for it. Sport needs unpredictability and competitiveness to attract and appeal to viewers and this had a huge dose of both.

    2. @toxic That’s what I always say, as much as we all love talking about clean, brilliant racing, the reality is most people love to see this sort of thing.

  4. Fantastic review of a truly fantastic race. It had everything. Even nitpicking would still make us raise our hands to admit this was a proper F1 race. They just overdone it with drama.

    Everyone had their “OMG what just happened” moment, except Vettel of course.

    This kind of races really hook you up. I think about F1 every day, but it’s mornings like this, when you wake up for a race, having breakfast and enjoying your passion so much that makes you feel completely in it, I honestly felt like the Ferrari mechanics at the start of the race.

    And who was the clown that put Spa so far away from this, honestly? Man, it was a long way since Silverstone and now we at the beginning of a long, long wait until the next one.

    1. And who was the clown that put Spa so far away from this, honestly?

      That’s not fair. The teams deserve a summer holiday as much as you and I do. It’s just a shame that the German GP had been cancelled, so we just had a 3 weeks spell.

    2. “Everyone had their “OMG what just happened” moment, except Vettel of course.”
      I think Vettel had THE biggest “OMG what just happened” moment at the start lol.

    3. pastaman (@)
      27th July 2015, 12:35

      Yeah, which clown decided all these people deserved a holiday during their grueling schedule so they could get some rest and see their families…

    4. The gap between Hungary and Spa happens every season and is the enforced summer break. The gap from Silverstone to Hungary was simply ddue to Germanynot happening this year despite being on the initial schedule.

  5. The best driver of the season won! Grande Seb! Forza Ferrari!

    1. I agree with that.

  6. Its clear when anybody gets close to the Mercs both pitwall and drivers panic.. They got lucky at Silverstone because Williams were not daring enough and then the rain came.
    In this race when Ferrari got ahead, the pitwall should have asked both Nico and Lewis to calm down and hold station and looked at their pace. All weekend Nico has struggled. So if Lewis was faster , did what RBR did and asked Nico to let him through. Then through the undercut, through other means tried to get at the Ferraris. Instead a shambolic race with everybody making multiple mistakes. I think this race should be an eye opener for Hamilton. Cut out the showbiz and concentrate on the driving. WDCs dont get handed on a platter

    1. so Merc should have had Nico pull over from P3 to let Ham in P11 come through?

      Perhaps Hamilton should learn not to panic and take himself out of the race. He did that not once, but twice. The second time was just stupidity – 20 laps to go running 4th at the restart. Time for a WDC to shine.

      Though I’m beginning to wonder if being in dominant car makes a driver’s race craft suffer. Vettel was bit clumsy in the RB because he’s used to running from the front. Now Hamilton’s used to running in the front so makes really bad moves.

      1. Interestingly, this wouldn’t have happened if there was a clear number 1/2 policy in the team.

        And Vettel a bit clumsy when he was at RB? I don’t recall him making as many mistakes as Lewis did yesterday since 2011.

      2. @uan Just when was Vettel suffering and showing that in his overtakes?

        so Merc should have had Nico pull over from P3 to let Ham in P11 come through?

        Obviously. No, in all seriousness he was lucky enough to get into P4 and should have as you said showed his skill which he has and fought his way up, even if that ment first losing a spot to Ricciardo. The RB was still a sitting duck on the straight anyway the lap later. He must’ve known by then Nico had no pace and Kimi his struggles were already known to everyone. So only passing Nico and the very slow Ricciardo and Kimi would have given him P2.

        1. @xtwl RBR’s staight speed was not particularly impressive but RIC was not very slow – not enough to be a sitting duck like RAI, anyway.

          1. @davidnotcoulthard In that phase of the race where fuel saving had been done and tyre life was fine I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have taken him that long.

  7. “At the end of lap one Vettel had a second in hand over his team mate and Rosberg was already three seconds behind.”

    1. That must have been one of the greatest first laps lol

      1. Especially considering Mercedes and Red Bull was at least as fast as Ferrari.

  8. I might be coming in from left field – but that’s quite normal. I think the drivers emotions were maybe a bit close to the surface and that might be why they made mistakes. Because a lot of what happened was silly mistakes they don’t normally do. Especially Hamilton who has done a lot over the years to try and control his emotions but still feels things deeply.

    Don’t get me wrong, it was an awesome race to watch! Loved it!
    Just a thought.

    1. That’s exactly how i saw it. Hamilton in particular was a very gifted but emotional driver earlier in his career. It’s only in the last couple of years that he’s seemed to have his emotions under control. Today was a bit of the old Hamilton.

  9. The ceremony at the start of the race was a brilliant tribute to Bianchi. A simple idea that was wonderfully put into action, it really managed to be what a farewell for someone who passed away should be. Even the national anthem seemed to fit nicely after the minute of silence. The fact that the race was by far the best this year made it even better, feeling like a proper goodbye to this great talent that we lost.

  10. Both Mercedes drivers were a liability in close combat yesterday.

    Personally I think Rosberg was lucky not receive a penalty for not allowing room for Ricciardo on the exit after what was a legitimate move from Daniel that did not force Nico off the racetrack.

    And then there’s Hamilton. Clumsiness is perhaps the only word. Even in his more successful moves, he was so aggressive he was on the fine line of further contact. In Lewis’ defense, close combat is just as psychological as qualifying or race-starts, and as result even the best can have “bad days”. Vettel did in Bahrain, and on a number of occasions in 2014, Alonso had an awful Indian Grand Prix in 2013, and Rosberg demonstrated his vulnerability to clumsiness at Spa.

    Can’t say I enjoyed the race as much as some did. It was a bit of a carbon fiber fest, and as much of the excitement resulted from clumsy or overambitious maneuvers as it did from stunning driving. A great race for fans of carbon debris, but not a clean wheel-to-wheel contest by any means, so in my eyes it fails to be the “modern classic” many will dub it.

    1. If Rosberg is at fault here inspite of being the lead driver?

      Rosberg was lucky not receive a penalty for not allowing room for Ricciardo on the exit after what was a legitimate move from Daniel that did not force Nico off the racetrack.

      How can he be at fault here as well when he was the following driver like Ricciardo?

      Rosberg demonstrated his vulnerability to clumsiness at Spa.


      1. @evered7 Both were racing incidents where the nose of the attacking car were cut off by the defending driver. Spa was inevitable, the flow of the racetrack was always going to close the wedge that Nico was entering.

        For me, yesterday was avoidable. The sporting regulations puts the onus on the attacking driver to ensure the move is clean: Ricciardo fulfilled that obligation, he did not make contact during the move, hit the apex and did not run Nico off the track. At the apex, Ricciardo was ahead, and had therein earned the right to space on the exit, but Nico moved over on him despite the fact that Daniel had a substantial part of his car alongside.

        Had there not been contact, Ricciardo would have “Ved” the exit, and with the effect of DRS, would have been in play at Turn 2. Rosberg was clearly looking to compromise his line and his exit to prevent that; that is why, in my opinion, he was lucky to avoid a penalty.

        1. Except that Daniel DIDN’T have a substantial part of his car alongside Rosberg. Same as Monaco with Raikkonen. He does this a lot I think.

        2. @countrygent In both cases, the lead driver tried taking the racing line when there was a car behind and got penalized in the exact same way. If Rosberg is at fault for not respecting the guy behind, the same can be mentioned for Hamilton at Spa. That there was a left hander is of no consequence since there was plenty of space for Hamilton to his right to have him and Rosberg continue in parallel.

          1. I agree with that, that’s why I also agree there shouldn’t be penalty for both cases. It was more of a racing accident, as both drivers could do better to avoid what happened.

  11. Great race, the best of the season so far I’d think. Awesome start by the Ferrari’s and race pace, but what a shame for Kimi. Great drive by Seb.

    But what an abysmal race by the two Merc drivers and their pitwall. Clumsy driving all around. HAM shouldn’t have been so impatient as to try something at the chicane in the first lap. ROS shouldn’t have cut so close to RIC, he was always going to take the position back. He only gave room for something bad to happen. Not smart considering he could have reduced his points difference to HAM by a heap of points. It didn’t seem as they were thinking of the long game, racing for the championship.

    I’m really doubting the skill of the management/pitwall at Mercedes. Their engineering skill in unparalleled in this hybrid era, but would they have won last year’s WCC if it was closer? This isn’t the first time the decisions made on their feet during the race haven’t been the greatest. Why, o why, did they go for mediums on ROS on the last stop? The debris was spread out across the racing track and they could have predicted that the real safety would be coming out. Around 25 laps on the soft tyre with a light car is certainly possible. It would have enabled him to fight for the win and once ahead gain and maintain a decent lead to nurse the tires home. The mediums didn’t allow him to overtake VET and left him vulnerable from behind, which is exactly what happened.

    Still, I’m very glad that they weren’t on their A-game. It got us a magnificent race! Now do it again at Spa and the championship could get a whole lot more interesting.

    1. @seabass You seem not to realise that everything is:
      – Not always what it seems
      A lot easier with hindsight

      1. You are certainly right that it it’s way, way, way easier to make a decision afterwards. But, like the drivers, one has to assume the people on the pitwall are the best of the best, certainly for a team with the budget of Mercedes. I have my doubts that this is the case, which should be a sign of worry, because they will not maintain the performance advantage forever. An advantage which often exempts them from making difficult race decisions.

        As @alec-glen says below, do they miss the strategic racing insight of Ross Brawn? I think they do.

    2. That’s Paddy’s influence, they look a lot more McLaren late 2000s with an overreliance on data than they did when Brawn was running things trackside.

  12. I don’t understand why so many are complaining about bad driving and thus causing incidents.
    From my point of view they were making mistakes because they were pushing. Which is exactly what sports is all about. Pressuring your opponent to the point where he makes a mistake. It’s not like they ran into each other on a straight line or something like that. Most incidents were the result of aggressive racing, battling to win positions, taking opportunities when others are too slow or not on the limit.

    I loved it, except for the fact that kimi had to retire.

    It’s quite clear that when the mercs don’t have clean air, they can be beaten. Nico can’t pass Lewis from P2 or the other way around. And if these start problems aren’t resolved with mercedes, they better make sure they qualify P1 & P2 every time.

    1. Nico did have a better start than Hamilton. Again.

  13. It is funny, in the most pro Alonso forum in Spain they are saying that it was a fake victory, Bernie ordered Mercedes to lose it. Apart of saying that Vettel and Hamilton were just mediocre and have won just because Bernie wants that.

    I don’t know how that people don’t see how they hurt Alonso. He doesn’t need those “fans”

    1. Reminds me of the days there were overtly anti-Schumacher forums. All the people who complain about this site being ‘British’ would have had a heart attack going to those places.

  14. Only just watched this race, as I was away on holiday and had to work today. It seems my old curse of missing amazing races on holiday with an amazing result for Ferrari continues!

    I’m still a bit overwhelmed, really, especially considering there’ve been races this year I’ve spent more time looking at my second screen than the TV. Now, I got annoyed when people called despite I knew the result and could pause.

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