F1 2017: Hungarian Grand Prix Race Recap

rr F1 HUN

Sebastian Vettel won the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix, fighting a steering issue and pressure from teammate Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages. Raikkonen hoped to be allowed into the race lead as Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton caught up the Ferraris in the final twenty laps. Though they finished third and fourth, Bottas gave up his position to the slightly faster Hamilton in an effort to pressure the Ferraris. Hamilton, as he offered to do, allowed Bottas back through on the final lap.

The race started cleanly, until fifth-place finisher Max Verstappen locked up and forced teammate Daniel Ricciardo into a spin and retirement and brought out the Safety Car. Verstappen received a ten second time penalty for his contact. Watching timing and scoring marked the excitement for much of the race, though Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz periodically made things interesting. The back of the field often came together spectacularly. Both McLarens both finished and scored points, with Alonso managing the race fast lap on the final lap.

Results of the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix

DRIVER TEAM GAP
1.  Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari
2.  Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari  +0.908
3.  Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes  +12.462
4.  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes  +12.885
5.  Max Verstappen  Red Bull  +13.276
6.  Fernando Alonso  McLaren  +1:11.223
7.  Carlos Sainz  Toro Rosso  +1 Lap
8.  Sergio Perez  Force India  +1 Lap
9.  Esteban Ocon  Force India  +1 Lap
10.  Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren  +1 Lap
11.  Kevin Magnussen*  Haas  +1 Lap
12.  Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso  +1 Lap
13.  Joylon Palmer  Renault  +1 Lap
14.  Lance Stroll  Williams  +1 Lap
15.  Pascal Wehrlein  Sauber  +2 Laps
16.  Marcus Ericsson  Sauber  +2 Laps
 Nico Hulkenberg  Renault
 Paul di Resta  Williams
 Romain Grosjean  Haas
 Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull

*five second time penalty to be added

Vettel {1:16.276} smashed the lap record in his charge to pole, with Raikkonen right alongside the German in a Ferrari front row. The Finn set his lap in the waning seconds after the final flag. Mercedes seemed on the back foot through the entirety of Saturday’s qualifying sessions. Bottas and Hamilton qualified third and fourth, three tenths and a half second off Vettel’s pace, respectively.

Red Bull’s Verstappen and Ricciardo locked out the third row. Alonso and Vandoorne somehow managed to qualify eighth and ninth, respective, bringing a hopeful chance of points to McLaren as the season heads into the summer break.

Di Resta subbed in for an ill Massa, who had managed to run in all three practice sessions despite dizziness & nausea in Q1, his first session ever in a 2017 F1 car, only seven tenths shy of Stroll’s time and nineteenth. Vettel led the generally uneventful session, leading the timesheets as Magnussen, Stroll, Weherlein, di Resta, and Ericsson dropped out of qualifying.

Hamilton led Q2, but only after a second run over Vettel and Verstappen. Hulkenberg dragged himself to the Q3 fight, with Palmer, Ocon, Kvyat {who had an off}, Perez, and Grosjean all knocked out in Q2. Only Kvyat and di Resta started on the soft tires, with the rest of the field wearing supersofts under a bright Hungarian sun.

Race Start:
Vettel made a clean start, with Raikkonen slottin in behind. Bottas kept his third, with Verstappen pushing his way by Hamilton. In the midst of the of the shuffle and after a small trip off the track, Verstappen hit his teammate a turn later, locking up, spinning Ricciardo. The Australian then stopped on track, bringing out the SC. Before this but behind it on the track, Hulkenberg and Grosjean made contact.

Safety Car/Restart {L2/L6 of 70}:
Vettel led Raikkonen, Bottas, Verstappen, Hamilton, Sainz, Alonso, Perez, Vandoorne, and Ocon as the top ten under the Safety Car. Palmer, who took to the runoff after liquid from Ricciardo’s car sprayed him, sat eleventh, with Hulkenberg, Magnussen, Kvyat, Stroll, Grosjean, di Resta, Ericsson, and Wehrlein rounding out the nineteen drivers still running. Wehrlein pitted while under the SC.

The race restarted on L6, with Hamilton hassling Verstappen. Close behind, Alonso wanted Sainz’s sixth position. Sainz pushed Alonso wide over the kerbs at T1, which the stewards would investigate. Hamilton radioed the team it was too dangerous to keep pushing Verstappen. The young driver received a ten second time penalty for his contact with his teammate on L1.

End L10 of 70:
Vettel had well over two seconds on his teammate at the end of L10. Despite the promise on the restart, positions settled over the next few laps. Hamilton learned his team had some IT issues, then the radio communications seemed to be properly resumed. The stewards decided no further action on the first lap contact between Hulkenberg and Grosjean, despite the Frenchman’s agitated radio transmissions.

Though Hamilton indicated his tires felt fine, he could not close dramatically. Most of the field seemed to be adding to their gaps, taking a “breather” into clear air as Hulkenberg told Renault he would do. The first driver to begin complaining heavily about tires, Magnussen told Haas it felt like he was driving on oil. The stewards, meanwhile, determined no further action necessary on the Sainz/Alonso incident.

By L20, Vettel’s gap settled in at around three seconds, with Bottas nine seconds behind the leader. In the only passing at that time, Palmer allowed teammate Hulkenberg through and into eleventh. Within a few laps, Hulkenberg would gain over four seconds on his teammate.

Grosjean pitted on L22, Haas informing the driver of a front left slow puncture. His bad day continued, as the engineer informed Grosjean to stop the car. The crew had a crossed wheel nut. The team asked him to try to slowly bring the car back, but he stopped before regaining the pits. Haas would likely be penalized for an unsafe pit release, with the stewards set to investigate after the race.

Raikkonen closed to Vettel, gaining a second on his teammate by L24, but remained two seconds behind Vettel. The German complained the steering was “hanging to the left…I thought it was getting worse,” apparently an issue he had struggled with throughout the race. Hamilton’s radio also got worse, losing his ability to talk to the team. He could still hear Mercedes.

Pit Stops Begin {L30 of 70}:
By L30, Raikkonen began complaining of being stuck in Vettel’s dirty air as the German slowed slightly, managing his steering issue. Stroll {2.3s}, then Bottas {3.5s for a slow left front}, pitted on L30. The Finn lost position only to Verstappen and Hamilton, rejoining fifth. Hamilton {2.5s} pitted on the next lap.  Vettel {3.0s} pitted from the lead on L32, rejoining third, having complained “fronts aren’t in healthy shape, please don’t extend.”

Raikkonen {2.7s} followed his teammate on the next lap, having complained about di Resta, who he suggested should stick with reporting. Raikkonen rejoined directly behind his teammate. Perez continued the slow trickle of drivers stopping for fresh tires. Alonso and Ocon pitted next. Hamilton’s radio woes continued, even on the backup.

Halfway {L35 of 70}:
Verstappen led at halfway, neither having stopped nor served his ten second penalty at halfway. On his pitstop, McLaren almost got Alonso clear of Sainz, but the two Spaniards remained locked together. Alonso tried to pass at both T1 and T2, but could not make the passes stick. Finally, he did take ninth around the outside. Suddenly, the Mercedes drivers sat nose to tail in fourth and fifth, with Raikkonen asking about Vettel’s pace and the catching Mercedes’. Ferrari told Vettel to avoid heavy kerbing. Mercedes told Bottas about Vettel’s issue, requesting he “close it down.”

Meanwhile Kvyat pitted. Verstappen finally stopped on L42. He rejoined in fifth and began reeling off race fast laps. Vandoorne pitted soon after. On the radio, Raikkonen encouraged Ferrari not put him under undue pressure from Mercedes.

Hamilton finally got his radio back, told the team he had pace, and that his last set of tires were perfect, and he could have stayed out on the track. He also indicated that if he passed Bottas but could not catch the Ferraris, he would be happy to let Bottas back through. Hulkenberg pitted from sixth on L45, a slow stop with issues on the front right. Palmer followed on the next lap.

Bottas clearly allowed Hamilton through, seemingly nearly stopping at T1 to give Hamilton space. He would soon be less than two seconds behind Raikkonen. Meanwhile, Vettel’s engineer told him to avoid the kerbs. Much action continued on the radio, with Mercedes reassuring Bottas that Hamilton would allow him back through if he could not pass Raikkonen.

20 Laps Remain of 70:
Vettel still led in his ailing Ferrari. Raikkonen had just over a second ahead to Vettel and the same margin behind to Hamilton. Raikkonen told Ferrari he was not in the most comfortable position. Mercedes told Bottas to stay close to Hamilton so they could “reinvert the positions.” Raikkonen pushed closer to Vettel, while Mercedes told Hamilton he had five laps to get something done. The top three soon caught lapped cars. Raikkonen closed on Vettel, while Hamilton dropped back a little, about two seconds behind.

Raikkonen continued to use the radio and his pace to push Ferrari into allowing him by Vettel, “I’m only going to ruin my tires even more. Is this what were’ going to do the rest of the race?” The response: “Confirm, Kimi, confirm.” Hamilton picked his pace back up in the traffic, with lapped cars generally speedy about allowing the leaders through. Hamilton told Mercedes he would now be waiting for a mistake from Raikkonen. He seemed unable to make a move to take second from the Finn, complaining a bit about his tires.

10 Laps Remain of 70:
Vettel still led Raikkonen and Hamilton, having moved through the traffic cleanly with ten laps to go. Bottas sat fourth, Verstappen fifth, despite a trip through the runoff after a messy lap, Alonso sixth, Sainz, Perez, Ocon, and Vandoorne rounding out the top ten.

Magnussen and Hulkenberg came together as the Renault went after eleventh, forcing Hulkenberg to the grass. Magnussen would receive a five second time penalty for the incident. The weekend ended unhappily for di Resta, who retired his Williams with seven laps to go. In the final laps, it appeared Hamilton would be unable to make any move on Raikkonen. Though he had said he would allow Bottas back through, the Finn had not kept close behind. He had dropped to nearly five second behind his teammate and looked vulnerable to Verstappen. Hulkenberg pitted on L69, dropping down the order after his trip through the grass, then retiring.

Mercedes informed Hamilton Verstappen was a threat and he wondered just the Bottas or to everyone. Verstappen had closed directly behind Bottas with four laps to go. Hamilton Continued to back off Raikkonen in the final two laps. Verstappen looked unlikely to make a move for fourth. In the final turn, Hamilton allowed Bottas through for this third position, and yet still kept Verstappen fifth. Alonso set the race fast lap on the final lap, finishing sixth.

{VMR}

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