Hungarian Grand Prix: Ricciardo wins a thriller

Daniel Ricciardo crosses the line to win the Hungarian Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo crosses the line to win the Hungarian Grand Prix

One could use a myriad of superlatives to describe Daniel Ricciardo’s victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix – superb, mega, amazing, astounding, brilliant – they would all apply to the big smiling Australian who slugged it out with Formula 1’s acknowledged masters, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, before snatching a well calculated and greatly deserved victory at Hungaroring.

With the race starting on a damp track, requiring intermediates, it was always going to be an intriguing afternoon in Budapest. Throw into the pot Hamilton starting from the pitlane and we were delivered an epic grand prix, which will surely shut up those who continue to claim that this formula cannot deliver top notch racing.

Granted, Ricciardo got a lucky break after Marcus Ericcson smacked the barriers in Turn 3, prompting a safety car period as marshals removed the wrecked Caterham, but notably the top four were on the main straight at the time and missed the pitlane entrance, while the Red Bull driver was first to be able to take advantage and duck into the pits for a  change to the soft (yellow band) Pirelli tyres – the leaders had to wait an extra lap (behind the safety car) which muddled up the order and proved to be decisive in the end.

The start was wet

The start was wet

Thereafter Ricciardo had to manage his pace effectively, which he did and with a handful of laps remaining found himself with fresh rubber in third place, catching Alonso and Hamilton rapidly. The Ferrari driver struggling gallantly on well worn soft tyres fending off Hamilton also struggling for grip on well worn medium (white band) tyres.

Ricciardo kept a watching brief for a few laps, before attacking Hamilton through the Turn 1 to Turn 3 complex to claim second place, then dispatched Alonso with a big braking manouevre at the end of the pit straight to take the lead where he stayed until the end. Both were brave but fair moves, executed with extreme confidence and determination, a class act.

He reflected afterwards on the podium, “It feels as good as the first win, it really does. The safety car at first played to our advantage but the second one didn’t really help us, but we got there in the end and I had to do the overtaking at the end which was fun.

Top three on the Hungaroring podium

Top three on the Hungaroring podium

“I am definitely going to celebrate tonight, party for a few days and enjoy a few days off. Then I will continue with the second half of the season and I can’t wait for Spa but I want to thank the team for everything they have done to help me win my first races,” added Ricciardo.

Alonso, in  his unique manner, never gave up and wrestled the grip-less Ferrari across the line to second place, and only a second visit to the podium for the Spaniard so far this year.

He said, “I am extremely satisfied, it has been a tough season so to get a podium is always a nice surprise. We took a gamble to try to get the victory and we got very close, I am extremely proud of my drive and the team and very proud of the result. We need some crazy races to get a podium and we took our chances today.”

Hamilton had to settle for third after a scorching drive through the field which is a story in its own right. Having started from the pitlane, he went off and nudged the wall on the opening lap before recovering to scythe his way up-field in tricky conditions.

Daniel Ricciardo passes Fernando Alonso for the lead in Hungary

Daniel Ricciardo passes Fernando Alonso for the lead in Hungary

The various stoppages played in his favour, and a tense duel with teammate and title rival Nico Rosberg – where the Briton was told to let the German pass, but did not – will grab headlines for the next few days no doubt and will have done nothing to reduce tensions in the Silver Arrows camp.

Nevertheless Hamilton, who doubted he would finish in the top five, did the business and with it narrowed the points gap in the title chase in the process. Rosberg was fourth.

Hamilton said afterwards, “It has been a pretty crazy weekend, a big thank you to the team they did a great job on the pit stops to help me today. The car has been fantastic but there were a lot of points lost this weekend. The brakes were very, very cold (at the start) and I was gone but I got going again and managed to push on from there.”

After the Ericsson incident, Romain Grosjean kept the safety car out for four more laps when he crashed his Lotus during the safety car period on lap 11 and there was a further interruption on lap 23 when Force India’s Mexican Sergio Perez speared into the wall on the pit straight.

Hungarian Grand Prix, Hungaroring – Sunday, 27 July 2014
Pos No Driver Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Pts
1 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing-Renault 70 Winner 4 25
2 14 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 70 +5.2 secs 5 18
3 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 70 +5.8 secs 22 15
4 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 70 +6.3 secs 1 12
5 19 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 70 +29.8 secs 6 10
6 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 70 +31.4 secs 16 8
7 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 70 +40.9 secs 2 6
8 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 70 +41.3 secs 3 4
9 25 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Renault 70 +58.5 secs 8 2
10 22 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 70 +67.2 secs 7 1
11 99 Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari 70 +68.1 secs 11
12 20 Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes 70 +78.4 secs 21
13 13 Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault 70 +84.0 secs 20
14 26 Daniil Kvyat STR-Renault 69 +1 Lap 10
15 17 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari 69 +1 Lap 15
16 4 Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari 69 +1 Lap 18
Ret 21 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 32 +38 Laps 13
Ret 10 Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 24 +46 Laps 17
Ret 11 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 22 +48 Laps 12
Ret 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 14 +56 Laps 9
Ret 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 10 +60 Laps 14
Ret 9 Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 7 +63 Laps 19