Hungarian GP Review: This victory is for you
With Mercedes locking out the front row in qualifying and both drivers feeling confident in their potential to win it seemed another few hours on Sunday would be wasted watching the silver arrows drive away from the green lights. When the lights went green, coming out of the first corner, Mercedes got stampeded by the Scuderia with Sebastian Vettel moving from 3rd to 1st and Kimi Raikkonen moving from 5th to 2nd place. Vettel’s start was blistering, leaving the teams, fans and commenters with their jaws on the floor. We can only assume that Hamilton and Rosberg were defeated from inside their helmets as a race they thought was in their pocket was slipping away, tenths at time.
The drama from turn 1 wasn’t over as Hamilton over cooked it into turn 6 attempting a dubious move on Rosberg that led to Hamilton sliding over the gravel trap to rejoin in 10th place. From that moment on he appeared rattled. On lap 40, Raikkonen experienced trouble with his MGUK kinetic energy recovery system which cost him several tenths each lap. Just when it appeared Vettel might not see the rest of the pack again, on lap 43, Niko Hulkenburg’s front wing collapsed on the main straight leading to a safety car and mad dash of pit stops.
The field was bunched up with Vettel’s 43 second lead erased. On the restart Vettel stayed in 1st but Rosberg was able to take advantage of Raikkonen’s struggle car to take 2nd place. A few laps later Raikkonen would retire. Just before the restart, Hamliton was told over the radio that he was still racing for the win but at turn 1 he understeered into the side of Ricciardo leading to front wing damage that required another pit stop.
Ricciardo was in 3rd and with 5 laps left to do made a dive bomb move on the inside of Rosberg at turn 1. The result left Rosberg with a flat tire.
In the end, Vettel would finish 16 seconds ahead of 2nd place driver Daniil Kvyat who scored his first podium.
With a race so full of excitement and emotion its almost an afterthought that the disastrous season of McLaren Honda found a silver lining with a 5th place finish by Fernando Alonso.
When did Ferrari last win in Hungary? Micheal Schumacher delivered that victory in 2004. With the absurd comparison between Hamilton and the great Senna it was Vettel who claimed his 41st win tying Aryton Senna’s win total. When Vettel was at Red Bull, many doubted his abilities in spite of 4 world Championships. There was always a question as to whether he could win in spectacular fashion in a less than perfect car. The doubts have been removed (at least temporarily) as he's claimed two wins this season and sits in third place in the Championship points in a car that is not the best on the grid.
The backdrop of this race was the death of talented Jules Bianchi who succumbed to his injuries sustained in the Japanese Grand Prix last year. Drivers and teams said goodbye to Jules during various ceremonies over the weekend. In addition to racing for Marussia and scoring their only championship points, Biachi was a Ferrari Academy driver with many predicting he would one day join the Scuderia. Former Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo and ex-team boss Stefano Domenicali last week revealed that Bianchi was to be Raikkonen’s replacement next year.
Vettel dedicated his win to Bianchi:
"We all did the race today for him, trying to race our hearts out from beginning to end," Vettel said.
"If you recap the week we have gone through it is hard to find the right words.
"So it is the least we can do... dedicate this weekend and race to Jules and his family.
"For all of us who were on the grid in Suzuka last year and are on the grid this year, Jules will always remain a part of us when we jump in the car when we race."
On his cool down lap Vettel radioed into the team:
"Merci, Jules. Cette victoire est pour vous (This victory is for you)."
He added in English: "You will always be in our hearts. We know sooner or later you would have been in this team."
Without a doubt it was the best race of the 2015 season and demonstrated that even with the doldrums that F1 has been through this season its still possible to have a race that lives up to the excitement that fans deserve and demand. For die hard fans who will spend two hours of their Sunday to bath in the glory of racing this race will go down as marker in the history of Formula 1.