Hungarian GP victory proves to be fitting finish for Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari
Great overtaking, collisions, spins, a front wing failing at high speed, mechanical failures and pit-lane penalties galore.
The Hungarian Grand Prix had it all during 69 laps of racing that at times bordered on pure mayhem, but fittingly it was the man who had the quietest afternoon who departed Budapest the happiest.
Sebastian Vettel led from the first corner to the last in his Ferrari to win for the 41st time in his Formula One career. The German dedicated the victory to the memory of Jules Bianchi, the Frenchman who last weekend succumbed to the head injuries he suffered in last October’s Japanese Grand Prix.
Bianchi had been a graduate from Ferrari’s Driver Academy on his route to F1 with Manor Marussia, who confirmed this week that the intention had been for him to drive for the Italian team in the future.
Drivers and teams all raced with personal tributes to Bianchi, with #CiaoJules and #JB17 on display, and a minute’s silence before Sunday’s race had the 20 drivers joined by members of Bianchi’s family to honour his memory.
Few Ferrari wins in F1 will have been as well-received publicly as the one Sunday, given Bianchi’s links to the team, and Vettel said of his triumph: “An incredible day, but this victory is for Jules.
“We know it has been an incredibly tough week, and for all of us very difficult, so this one is for him.
“For all the people within Ferrari, all the Ferrari fans, we knew sooner or later he would have been part of our team, part of this family.”
Vettel controlled the race throughout after an excellent start from third allowed him to get ahead of the Mercedes-GP cars of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, with teammate Kimi Raikkonen also squeezing past to make it a Ferrari one-two.
The most impressive thing was how dominant Ferrari were as they pulled away from third-placed Rosberg.
It might not have been so easy had it been Hamilton behind them, arguably the only man to show the pace to match Vettel during the race. But he had wrecked his chances of victory by running wide over the gravel at Turn 6 on the opening lap after misjudging his braking as he tried to pass Rosberg.
He fell to 10th but managed to fight his way back up to fourth, albeit still 30 seconds behind Vettel, when the safety car came out to clear the debris after Nico Hulkenberg’s Force India had fallen apart on the main straight on Lap 40.
Vettel’s advantage was lost, but he kept his cool on the restart. It helped that his teammate had to retire with an engine problem and Rosberg, now in second, was unable to get close enough to pressure him.
Hamilton’s hopes of a podium finish ended on the restart as he collided with Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull Racing car. It was a costly incident that required him to get a new front wing and then take a drive-through penalty after being judged at fault for the contact with the Australian driver.
Hamilton was saved by the speed of his car, though, as he charged back from 12th to be sixth at the finish.
Amazingly, this allowed the world champion to extend his points lead as Rosberg ran into his own trouble as he received a puncture after having his own coming together with Ricciardo.
He eventually finished eighth. Having at one stage of the proceedings looking as if he would take the championship lead from Hamilton, he ended the day losing ground as he fell 21 points adrift.
The big gainer in all the carnage was Daniil Kvyat, who finished second in his Red Bull ahead of Ricciardo.
But the day belonged to Vettel and Ferrari. The win moves the four-time world champion to within 42 points of Hamilton, but that was not the focus yesterday’s post-race celebrations.
It was about giving a fitting tribute to Bianchi, and the German certainly achieved that with his performance.
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Published: July 26, 2015 04:00 AM