Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg are taking it in turns to have the bad luck these days, but Andrew Davies thinks that the Mercedes strategy needs a lot of explaining…
Star of the Race
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull, 1st
Yes, he was lucky that we got the Safety Car when Marcus Ericsson went off at Turn 3, and the top four were past the pits. And it was handy that Jenson Button and the McLaren pulled the pin on their self-destruct grenade when they reacted first after the Safety car, but the rest was the result of sheer talent.
Daniel’s win was down to two perfectly executed overtaking moves. Round the outside of Lewis Hamilton into Turn 2 and a more conventional, but very smooth, run up the inside into Turn 1, past Fernando Alonso. This on an afternoon where his team-mate was pressured into an uncharacteristic mistake by Lewis Hamilton.
Overtaking Move of the Race
Lap 34: Lewis Hamilton on Jean-Eric Vergne for P2
The fact that Nico Rosberg was overtaken by Jean-Eric Vergne on Lap 14 and then spent 18 laps not getting back past him says it all. In fact, apart from the pesky Safety Car, if Nico wants to attribute anything for his failure to win the Hungarian GP, it’s the fact that he couldn’t pass the Toro Rosso.
Hamilton wasn’t hanging around when Sebastian Vettel’s spin allowed him a straight shot at Vergne. He was all over the back of the Toro Ross through Turns 1, 2 and 3 and then launched one up the outside into Turn 4. Whereas Romain Grosjean made that epic move in 2013 and got penalised for running off the circuit, Hamilton kept his wheels mostly on the track. One of the brilliant moves of 2014.
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 2nd
Alonso did astonishingly well to hold off Daniel Ricciardo and Lewis Hamilton as long as he did at the end of the race. But we know he’s a class act. Ultimately P2 helps blunt the team cock-up of Raikkonen’s failure to get out of Q1 on Saturday, but it got perilously close to another strategic error at the end.
On Lap 60 Fernando led by 1.2 seconds in front of Lewis, who was just 0.9 in front of Daniel Ricciardo. Fernando had old tyres. There was an inviting 23-second gap behind Lewis to Felipe Massa in P4. Fernando could have pitted for more Soft tyres, got out in front of Massa and guaranteed himself P3 and a podium. Or… He could hang on for 10 laps and try and get the win. He didn’t get the win and he could easily have been passed by both Mercedes, but because it was Alonso, he made it home. Even so, he got away with one trip across the Turn 7 chicane. If there had been another then Charlie would probably have had to do something.
After Hockenheim Fernando said he looked forward to more duels with Daniel Ricciardo in the future, but neither of them could have imagined they would rejoin battle so soon and for such a significant result.
And let’s not forget – of the four cars that were stranded the wrong side of the Safety Car divide: Rosberg, Bottas, Alonso and Vettel, Fernando was the one who finished on the podium.
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 3rd
Lewis Hamilton made the absolute right choice of not moving over for Nico Rosberg in the race. It may have lost Mercedes a win, but it highlighted the fact that Mercedes got their strategy very wrong. Particularly for Hamilton. If Hamilton had moved over, then Rosberg would likely have won the race and Lewis would have come fourth. However if Mercedes had worked out the strategy earlier and pitted Lewis for more Soft tyres (and of course he had brand new Soft tyres in abundance thanks to Saturday) when he was still in front of Rosberg, then they would have got a 1-2. Hamilton from Rosberg.
This is the most puzzling aspect of the race. Why would you leave the guy who likes to charge, who has many brand new sets of the Soft tyre left, out on the Medium tyre, which ran out of grip before the end of the race. The Mercedes team would have already seen that Hamilton had struggled to find a way past Sebastian Vettel yet they were leaving him on Mediums to fight against Daniel Ricciardo coming back on the Soft tyre. When they pitted Lewis for his Mediums, he rejoined three seconds in front of Rosberg, who was on Softs and needed another stop. If Mercedes thought that was the right choice for Rosberg then it was even more the perfect choice for a combative guy like Hamilton, who doesn’t fanny around and get pushed out wide by Kevin Magnussen.
Lewis got away with an early spin thanks to cold brakes, but he soon made up places, especially after the re-start when he jumped from P13 to P9. In fact it was a surprise that he didn’t benefit more from coming in with the early stoppers. Before the Safety Car he was P13 and afterwards he was P13.
It was another superb drive and would have been the ultimate burn from the stern if he’d just managed to get in front of Alonso when he had the opportunity. And despite the team’s failure to give him the optimum strategy, his mechanics did an amazing job to put together a chargrilled W05 after the Saturday fuel leak. That was an amazing performance on its own.
Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 4th
Rosberg’s run of good luck finally ran out. He had been fortunate in Qualifying that Magnussen had brought out the Red Flag, as it looked like he was destined for about P8 or P9 on the grid. That first lap of Q3 where he ran wide was likely to be the quickest. With all the quirks of fate that F1 can throw at a result, P8 on the grid would probably have served him better than P1.
When Marcus Ericsson’s car headed for the Armco on Lap 8 he was a gigantic nine seconds up on the second place man Bottas and only looking towards the clouds for trouble. We may not have got the expected Safety Car in Germany (when Sutil left his car on the start/finish straight), but this time his win was taken away from him by the timing of the SC in Hungary, coming out when the first four had just passed the pitlane entrance.
Nico put in some scintillating laps at the close to minimise the damage, but there will be big questions about the race craft. His failure to get past Vergne, his attempted suicide with Raikkonen on Lap 60 (which thankfully Kimi saw coming), his being passed by Vergne and then Vettel and Alonso on the same lap and his failure to get past a car that he was catching at 3.5 seconds a lap being the clincher. It wasn’t the last lap that was the bad one, it was the penultimate one where he failed to be on Lewis’s gearbox coming through the final turn. Ricciardo, on slightly older tyres, had made the same move on Alonso look very straightforward.
Felipe Massa, Williams, 5th
For once some good luck for Felipe, he was the right side of the first Safety Car divide. Williams expected it was going to be tough on tyres and that their Qualifying pace might have been flattering, and they were right.
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 6th
A tlast some good news for Kimi, too. He may have started the race in P16, but he managed a good result, toughing it out with Sebastian Vettel along the way. The fact that he finished with his car in one piece is thanks to his nifty avoidance of Rosberg’s prod at the apex on Lap 60. The kind of half-overtaking move much beloved of Gerhard Berger.
Jenson Button, 10th
Kevin Magnussen 12th
Eric Boullier was quick to lay the blame on the UBIMET radar system after the team gave the potential leader, Jenson Button, some Inters when the rest of the field were on slicks. McLaren have got some fine results from making snap decisions in the past. But those are normally made by Jenson Button on the basis of feel for the track rather than looking at a radar screen and holding a finger in the air.
They didn’t even back it both ways by putting Magnussen onto slicks. There is going to be an interesting meeting with Ron back at the factory and no mistake…
Adrian Sutil got agonisingly close to Jenson Button finishing in P11, just 0.8 seconds behind their first precious point of the season. It had started so well, too, on Lap 27 Sauber had both cars in the points with Gutierrez in P8 ahead of Sutil in P10. The absence of FRICS has certainly drawn them closer to the pack and it can only be a matter of time before they coast head of Marussia.
Sergio Perez, Force India, DNF
Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, DNF
Not a great way to celebrate your home nation getting a 2015 race; single-handedly ending your team-mate’s astonishing sequence of points-scoring races and wrecking your chassis on the main straight. At least they don’t have to mend it in a hurry.
BBC Radio 5 Schedulers
Which is more important – an early round of the Commonwealth Games Rugby Sevens or the Start of the Hungarian Grand Prix? BBC Radio 5 stuck with the rugby and despite internet users furiously clicking on a photo of James Allen and Jenny Gow, all they got was the voluble Ian Robertson commentating on England versus Samoa. The Commonwealth Games is about as exciting as a rummage through Susan Boyle’s underwear drawer, and being made to listen to any coverage of a competition – hyped out of all proportion by the BBC - is painful enough. It’s doubly so when Radio 5 controllers can’t manage their sports feeds properly and actually pull the correct switches. The BBC pay a lot of money for the radio rights to F1 and they need to start giving it the professional attention it deserves. Nothing wrong with the broadcasts, it’s the way they are marginalised that sucks. This isn’t the first time that there’s been a cock-up in the broadcasting by Radio 5, it’s just the latest in a long line.
“It’s like the Terminator getting undressed – there’s about 25 tubes coming out of the side of the car.” Jenny Gow describing Romain Grosjean’s Lotus E22 with the cover off.
Ben Edwards got stranded between “Hungary” and “Hungarian”: “Tremendous support here for the Hungaria Grand Prix!”
”He went and locked up the inside runt tyre.” Three Times Le Mans Winner Allan McNish.
“I’d like to be a fly in the wall of the Mercedes debrief,” confided Allan McNish. Although ‘on’ the wall would probably be more alive and able to hear.