Hungarian GP 2014: Grading Race on Strategy, Overtaking, Shocks and Drama
Sunday afternoon saw Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo win an action-packed Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of second-place Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari, with the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and championship leader Nico Rosberg coming home third and fourth, respectively.
And here we grade the spectacular contest at the Hungaroring from A to D in terms of strategy, overtaking, shocks and drama.
In a grand prix that ultimately came down to the finest of fine margins, the teams’ contrasting pit strategies—which were not helped by the ever-changing weather forecast—became crucial to the outcome.
Red Bull cleverly opted to make use of the deployment of the safety car for a second time at the Hungaroring to bring Ricciardo into the pits for new tyres on Lap 23, before the Australian then made his second and final stop 31 laps later.
Meanwhile, Rosberg in the Mercedes stopped on Lap 32 for a fresh set of soft tyres, meaning the German would still need to come in once more before the end of 70-lap contest.
And Ferrari’s Alonso and Mercedes’ Hamilton made their second and last pit stops on Laps 38 and 39, respectively, meaning that Rosberg’s final stop on Lap 56 put an end to what was turning out to be an absolutely fascinating scrap with his British team-mate.
On a twisty circuit that was supposed to hinder overtaking, the Hungarian GP ended up producing any number of eye-catching passing moves in what was the best race of the season so far.
And despite his understandable pessimism after Saturday’s qualifying session had seen him begin the grand prix from the pit lane, Hamilton managed to make his way from the back of the grid up to 13th by the time of the deployment of the first safety car thanks to a series of impressive overtaking manoeuvres.
However, Ricciardo managed to get past the Mercedes driver with a sensational move on the Briton’s outside on Turn 2 of Lap 67, before the Australian then made a decisive overtaking pass on a clearly struggling Alonso with just three laps to go to grab the lead, and the win.
Seeing as no driver had ever previously won a grand prix after starting from the pit lane, Hamilton’s efforts in finishing on the podium at the Hungaroring should rightly be applauded.
In fact, after the Briton’s Mercedes had caught fire at the start of Saturday’s qualifying session—and given the circuit’s reputation for not allowing many overtaking moves—Hamilton told Sky Sports F1 ahead of the race that there was little chance he'd finish in the points.
In fact, the 29-year-old had glumly predicted that championship leader and pole-sitter Rosberg would head into the four-week summer break with at least a 20-point advantage over him in the drivers’ standings.
And so Hamilton will now be absolutely delighted to have cut the German’s lead from 14 to just 11 points. No one could have predicted either Ricciardo or Alonso finishing in the top two after the duo had started Sunday’s race in fourth and fifth places, respectively, on the grid.
Where to start really in what was from start to finish an incident-packed race? Hamilton spun off on the opening lap as heavy rain fell. The Mercedes driver then refused to allow team-mate and championship leader Rosberg by him as the grand prix reached a thrilling climax.
Meanwhile, the safety car was deployed twice following big crashes, the first involving Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson in the Caterham, before Sergio Perez—who had been involved in a collision with team-mate Nico Hulkenberg on Lap 16—then ran wide coming out of the last corner on Lap 22, before the Mexican lost control of his Force India and smashed into the pit wall on the start-finish straight.
And to round off matters, Hamilton could then be heard complaining on the radio to his team about Alonso supposedly gaining an advantage by cutting the chicane on Lap 63.
Without doubt, Sunday’s Hungarian GP was the most exciting of the 11 races so far this season, leaving Formula One fans in a breathless state as they head into a month-long summer recess.
As at a capacity and raucous Hungaroring, spectators enjoyed a grand prix that began in the rain, before the track then dried out to set up an absorbing last 10 laps in which any one of three drivers could have claimed all the spoils.
And not only that, but in the final three laps of the contest, there was even the sensational possibility of championship leader Rosberg making a well-timed late run for victory, before Ricciardo took the chequered flag for the second time in his career.