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Race recap: 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix was the pits

26 July 2016 - Autoblog

Race recap: 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix was the pits

The Hungarian Grand Prix hasn't seen a race this calculated since 2012, when Lewis Hamilton – driving for McLaren – led from pole position to the checkered flag.

We don't expect massive action from the Hungaroring, but Hamilton's first win for Mercedes in 2013, the thrilling wet mess in 2014, and Ferrari's surprising dominance in 2015 made us hope for more on-track commotion this year. Hungary denied us that.

Hamilton parked his Mercedes-AMG Petronas in second on the grid but stole the lead through Turn 1 and never looked back. Teammate Nico Rosberg yo-yoed behind him in second place, getting into DRS range on a few occasions but never close enough to pass. Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo kept the leading duo honest, but the Aussie couldn't put genuine fear into the German team and finished third. This is the third year in a row for Ricciardo on the Hungary podium.

The pits provided our few scraps of excitement. During a stretch when Ricciardo managed to close on Rosberg, Mercedes told Hamilton to speed up. When Hamilton said he couldn't go faster, Mercedes said they'd pit second-place Rosberg first instead. Suddenly, Hamilton found the extra pace. Ricciardo pitted in early, hoping that fresh tires and fast laps could allow him to pass one or both Mercedes drivers when they pitted, but once Hamilton hit the throttle the Red Bull couldn't respond.

Further down the lineup, Jenson Button came in on Lap 5 so McLaren could fix his brake pedal problem. The radio exchange before the stop included one forbidden instruction to Button, though, so the Englishman had to return to the pits for a drive-through penalty. Renault's Jolyon Palmer beat Force India's Nico Hülkenberg in a straight-up pit stop battle on Lap 40, but threw the good work away on Lap 49 with a spin on track that cost him three places. A pit wall miscommunication meant the Force India pit crew wasn't ready for Sergio Perez when the Mexican arrived for his second stop on Lap 43. And Daniel Kvyat's regrettable run at Toro Rosso continued, first with car issues, then a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane.

Sebastian Vettel brought his Ferrari home fourth, sniffing Ricciardo's gearbox at the flag but unable to get around the Red Bull. Max Verstappen enacted a replay of the final stages of the Spanish Grand Prix, finishing fifth by holding Ferrari's Kimi Räikkönen behind for 19 laps. Räikkönen didn't like Verstappen's defensive tactics, with one of the Dutchman's juke moves costing Räikkönen a front wing end plate, the other nearly causing a collision. One commentator called Verstappen's strategy "robust," Räikkönen said it "wasn't correct."

Fernando Alonso put McLaren on the board with a strong drive to seventh place, ahead of Carlos Sainz, Jr. for Toro Rosso, Valtteri Bottas for Williams, and Hülkenberg claiming the final point in tenth.

Ferrari put on a better show this weekend, but it appears the Italian team's battle is with Red Bull for the moment, not Mercedes. Hungary was the third race in a row that Red Bull outscored Ferrari. Vettel and Räikkönen could likely have gotten around their Red Bull foes at a track like China, but we don't know if that means the Ferraris could have hunted down Hamilton and Rosberg. Press reports describe turmoil behind the Italian scenes, with Sergio Marchionne's renewed involvement adding pressure to an already tense situation. Another clean race at next weekend's German Grand Prix should infuse some positive vibes into the summer break. Hopefully.

Vettel and Alonso beat up on the stricter radio communication rules before the race, as well Button threw a few blows at the FIA mandate as well. A malfunctioning sensor caused Button's car to think it had a hydraulic problem when it actually didn't (every F1 car has back-up hydraulic brake lines in case brake-by-wire fails). When Button radioed in regarding the brake pedal, his team replied, "Do not shift, we have lost hydraulic pressure." Button said he had a safety issue that should have been cleared of any infraction. We don't know the stewards' reasoning, but perhaps they sanctioned Button because although he radioed in about a brake problem, the team advised him on dealing with a gearbox problem – both issues caused by that sensor glitch. Here's what we do know: we'll get more of this drama before the season ends.

Hamilton's fifth Hungarian Grand Prix victory not only makes him the winningest man at the Hungaroring, he now leads the Driver's Championship for the first time this season. The Brit jumped to 192 points, teammate Rosberg sits at 186. Ricciardo leapfrogged to third with 115 points, ahead of Räikkönen with 114, Vettel with 110, and Verstappen with 100.

On the Constructor's side Mercedes has 378 points, way ahead of Ferrari with 224. Red Bull, in third place, closed the gap to the Italians to one point.

We expect fireworks at next weekend's final grand prix before the summer break. We'll see you then.

FORMULA 1 MAGYAR NAGYDÍJ 2016 - RACE RESULT

144Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES701:40:30.11525
26Nico RosbergMERCEDES70+1.977s18
33Daniel RicciardoRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER70+27.539s15
45Sebastian VettelFERRARI70+28.213s12
533Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER70+48.659s10
67Kimi RäikkönenFERRARI70+49.044s8
714Fernando AlonsoMCLAREN HONDA69+1 lap6
855Carlos SainzTORO ROSSO FERRARI69+1 lap4
977Valtteri BottasWILLIAMS MERCEDES69+1 lap2
1027Nico HulkenbergFORCE INDIA MERCEDES69+1 lap1
1111Sergio PerezFORCE INDIA MERCEDES69+1 lap0
1230Jolyon PalmerRENAULT69+1 lap0
1321Esteban GutierrezHAAS FERRARI69+1 lap0
148Romain GrosjeanHAAS FERRARI69+1 lap0
1520Kevin MagnussenRENAULT69+1 lap0
1626Daniil KvyatTORO ROSSO FERRARI69+1 lap0
1712Felipe NasrSAUBER FERRARI69+1 lap0
1819Felipe MassaWILLIAMS MERCEDES68+2 laps0
1994Pascal WehrleinMRT MERCEDES68+2 laps0
209Marcus EricssonSAUBER FERRARI68+2 laps0
2188Rio HaryantoMRT MERCEDES68+2 laps0
NC22Jenson ButtonMCLAREN HONDA60DNF0

Note - Gutierrez had 5 seconds added to his race time for ignoring blue flags.

2016 DRIVER STANDINGS

 
1Lewis HamiltonGBRMERCEDES192
2Nico RosbergGERMERCEDES186
3Daniel RicciardoAUSRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER115
4Kimi RäikkönenFINFERRARI114
5Sebastian VettelGERFERRARI110
6Max VerstappenNEDRED BULL RACING TAG HEUER100
7Valtteri BottasFINWILLIAMS MERCEDES56
8Sergio PerezMEXFORCE INDIA MERCEDES47
9Felipe MassaBRAWILLIAMS MERCEDES38
10Carlos SainzESPTORO ROSSO FERRARI30
11Romain GrosjeanFRAHAAS FERRARI28
12Nico HulkenbergGERFORCE INDIA MERCEDES27
13Fernando AlonsoESPMCLAREN HONDA24
14Daniil KvyatRUSTORO ROSSO FERRARI23
15Jenson ButtonGBRMCLAREN HONDA13
16Kevin MagnussenDENRENAULT6
17Pascal WehrleinGERMRT MERCEDES1
18Stoffel VandoorneBELMCLAREN HONDA1
19Esteban GutierrezMEXHAAS FERRARI0
20Jolyon PalmerGBRRENAULT0
21Marcus EricssonSWESAUBER FERRARI0
22Felipe NasrBRASAUBER FERRARI0
23Rio HaryantoINAMRT MERCEDES0

2016 CONSTRUCTOR STANDINGS

 
1MERCEDES378
2FERRARI224
3RED BULL RACING TAG HEUER223
4WILLIAMS MERCEDES94
5FORCE INDIA MERCEDES74
6TORO ROSSO FERRARI45
7MCLAREN HONDA38
8HAAS FERRARI28
9RENAULT6
10MRT MERCEDES1
11SAUBER FERRARI
 
 
 
 

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