Rosberg fights back after Ricciardo’s rapid start
“I lost the win there,” Nico Rosberg said when reflecting on the start of Sunday’s race in Hungary. “I lost out a little bit and then into Turn 1, with Daniel [Ricciardo] on the outside, Lewis [Hamilton] on the inside, I ran out of space, so I had to bail out of it.” For the briefest of moments Ricciardo actually led, but by the exit of the right-hander Hamilton, with better drive, had snuck back ahead of the Red Bull, who was then passed around the outside by Rosberg at Turn 2. From third to first to third in the space of two corners for the Australian.
Renault battle Force India in the pits
At just over half distance in Hungary, when Jolyon Palmer was bottled up behind Nico Hulkenberg in 12th place, it seemed the obvious thing for Renault to do from a strategy point of view would be to try to undercut the Force India in the upcoming pit sequence. But as it happened both drivers ended up pitting at exactly the same time, and that turned it into a straight battle between the two teams. Which would get their man serviced and out on fresh rubber first? The answer was Renault, thanks not only to swift work by Palmer’s crew, but also by the fact that Hulkenberg made a critical mistake. “I let the clutch slip a bit and that made the car move,” explained the German. “Then the boys then couldn’t do their bit.” But Hulkenberg would have the last laugh, re-passing Palmer after the British rookie spun at Turn 4 and going on to take the final word championship point in tenth.
Ferrari service Raikkonen in double-quick time
Having opted to start on softs, as oppose to the supersofts of the top-ten runners, Kimi Raikkonen made full use of a long first stint to lift himself from 14th on the grid to fifth by the time of his first pit stop on lap 29. And as you can see in this short but sweet clip using footage from a camera mounted on the helmet of one of his mechanics, the Iceman didn’t spend long in the pits, his crew swapping him onto supersoft tyres in just 2.31s - the fifth fastest stop of the race. His second stop, on lap 50, was only marginally slower at 2.38s.
Verstappen vs Raikkonen: Part 1…
Stuck behind Red Bull team mate Daniel Ricciardo in the early stages of the race, Max Verstappen was adamant that he had more pace than the Australian, exclaiming at one stage that he was being forced to “drive like a grandma”. His frustrations were well founded. With track position Ricciardo was the first to be called into the pits, and an extra lap on aging supersofts proved hugely damaging to Verstappen, who - as shown in this video - emerged from his stop just behind Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, which was doing a long first stint on softs. The Dutchman knew it was vital that he jumped the Finn as quickly as possible, and tried his hardest to get by around the outside at Turn 2, but Raikkonen clung on - just as Verstappen would do when the roles were reversed later in the race.
Having earlier fought to keep Verstappen at bay, Raikkonen found the boot on the other foot later in the race when he was the one of fresh rubber and looking for a way past. Unsurprisingly the young Dutchman didn’t make things easy for the veteran Finn, but were his defensive measures as questionable as Raikkonen thought they were? Watch this nose-mounted camera footage of Raikkonen’s attempted pass into Turn 2 on lap 57 and judge for yourself. And be sure to keep an eye on the left-hand side of the Ferrari’s front wing - now you see it, now you don’t.
…and Part 3
Despite missing a significant chunk of his front wing, Raikkonen had enough pace from his fresher rubber to close back onto the rear of Verstappen’s Red Bull, and at the beginning of the third-from-last lap he had another look at passing the Dutchman, this time into Turn 1. The result, however, was the same as it had been before - a stubborn defence from Verstappen and another round of angry team radio messages from Raikkonen about the teenager changing lines under braking.