Daniel Ricciardo stormed to his second Formula 1 victory of the season in an epic Hungarian Grand Prix that started on a wet track after a rain shower forty minutes before the start.
Aussie Ricciardo, on fresher tyres, managed two late overtaking manoeuvres on consecutive laps to pass the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton for second and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso to take the lead, and pulled away to take the win by over five seconds as the Ferrari and Mercedes drivers struggled for grip.
Alonso gambled on making a set of the soft Pirelli tyres last for over thirty laps to try and take his first victory of the season, but as his grip disappeared, he was unable to hold back Ricciardo’s Red Bull, but the Spaniard held on for second. And behind Alonso was Hamilton…
Having started from the pit lane after his fiery exit from qualifying after Mercedes were forced to change the chassis of his Mercedes, the Briton survived a first lap spin at turn two to take a remarkable podium. He was able to take advantage of two safety car periods to close the gap that was building to the drivers ahead of him, but also made the pace advantage of his Mercedes work as he passed a number of slower drivers.
He was also embroiled in an apparent team-orders row after being order to let team-mate Nico Rosberg through who was running a different strategy, an order the Briton apparently decided to ignore. Rosberg was left to follow Hamilton for a number of laps before making his final pit stop that dropped him down to seventh, but the German would recover to fourth and would have one opportunity to pass his team-mate on the final lap around the outside of turn two on much fresher tyres but the move was rebuffed by Hamilton.
Rosberg was in control of the race in the early wet stages, building up a comfortable lead over the Williams of Valtteri Bottas and the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel, but the three leaders and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso in fourth were caught out by the introduction of the safety car after the Caterham of Marcus Ericsson crashed heavily at turn three.
Al four of the leaders had driven passed the pit entry, and while virtually everyone else jumped into the pits to switch from the intermediate tyres to the dry tyres, the leading four were forced to drive around the track slowly and then pit the following lap, which lost them advantage of running up front.
Ricciardo would lead for the first time in the race ahead of McLaren driver Jenson Button (who was the only driver to pit and remain on the intermediate tyre), Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso, Kevin Magnussen (who had not pitted having started like Hamilton from the pit lane) and Rosberg. When both McLaren’s were forced to pit for dry tyres under green flag conditions, Ricciardo was able to stretch his lead from Vergne, who did a great job to keep Rosberg, Vettel and Hamilton behind him.
We lost Nico Hulkenberg from a race for the first time in 2014 as he made a mistake while challenging his team-mate Sergio Perez that saw the German clip the back of the Mexican and hit the outside wall at the final corner. It was a bad day all round for Force India, as it was Perez who caused the second safety car period when he ran wide onto the still wet Astroturf exiting the final corner and spun into the pit wall.
Ricciardo took the opportunity to pit that allowed Alonso to take the lead, which he would hold until four laps before the end when Ricciardo overtook into turn one.
Felipe Massa was fifth for the Williams team, having run as high as second, but ran the medium Pirelli tyre compared to the faster soft tyre in the final stints and lost ground to those in front. He finished just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari, who started down in sixteenth but was in point’s contention all race long.
Vettel would eventually wind up seventh after surviving an almost identical spin to that of Perez but just escaped without hitting anything. It lost him some track position however, and he just held off the challenge of Bottas at the end, with the second of the Williams driver’s run of three consecutive podium finishes coming to an end after being one of those caught out by the first safety car. His pit stop was delayed that meant he fell outside the top ten, and was never in contention after that for the podium.
Vergne eventually finished ninth for Toro Rosso after a strong performance, while Button recovered to tenth after the gamble not to change to dry tyres backfired spectacularly on the team; Magnussen was twelfth and out of the points, behind the Sauber of Adrian Sutil, who harried Button for the final point over the last few laps but missed out on the teams’ first point of the season by under a second. Esteban Gutierrez was running ahead of Sutil early in the race but an ERS failure saw him retire while in the points.
Pastor Maldonado was the only Lotus to finish in thirteenth after team-mate Romain Grosjean spun out behind the safety car while trying to get some heat into his newly fitted. Daniil Kvyat was fourteenth for Toro Rosso after finding himself stalled on the formation lap that ultimately saw him join Hamilton and Magnussen in the pit lane for the start. The final two finishers were the two Marussia’s of Jules Bianchi, who survived an incident with Maldonado after the Venezuelan hit the side of the Frenchman, and Max Chilton.
As well as the retirements of Ericsson, Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Perez and Gutierrez, we also lost the second Caterham of Kamui Kobayashi with a fuel system issue at the side of the road.
We now have a four week break before the season starts again at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.