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Hamilton enjoys lights to flag win in Hungary


Should they opt not to take part in today's race, the weather gods have already provided more than enough fun this weekend, indeed, in some ways we've been spoiled for choice.

Yesterday's marathon qualifying session which included a delayed start and numerous red flags, one due to the weather conditions, the rest due to accidents, was followed, albeit several hours later, by investigations into the validity of the grid.

It was subsequently deemed that Nico Rosberg was innocent of not reducing his speed under the yellow flags, whilst Valtteri Bottas and the Red Bull and force India duos kept their grid positions courtesy of some (rare) joined-up thinking by the stewards.

Indeed, the only drivers who will start outside the positions they qualified are Ericsson, who will start from the pitlane as a new chassis was required following his Q1 crash, and Haryanto, who drops five places following a gearbox change.

Like so many of the other 'modern' circuits - we're thinking Barcelona - the Hungaroring used to be one of those track regularly associated with 'borathons', rounds of the championship that regularly provided ninety-odd minutes of tedium.

However, ever since 'Our Nige' demonstrated that it is possible to overtake here, the circuit - the oldest purpose built F1 track on the calendar - has provided us with some pretty decent entertainment.

Indeed, ignoring the fact that only thirteen of the thirty Grands Prix here have seen the pole-man go on to claim victory, and only three times since 2005, let's not forget that in 2006, winner Jenson Button started from 14th on the grid.

So, despite the obvious superiority of the Mercedes, let's not write off the event just yet.

That said, the Silver Arrows are awesome this weekend, and as Pirelli so succinctly put it yesterday... "In a sport that's thrown up some crazy situations in the past, this was one of the most mixed-up days that we've witnessed - but the end result was still a Mercedes one-two."


While Nico Rosberg has looked the more confident all weekend, Lewis Hamilton was looking good for pole yesterday afternoon, until Fernando Alonso spoiled the party.

That said, prior to Q3, Hamilton has been looking scruffy, tending to overdrive the car, and we know from experience that from time to time he has these kind of weekends.

On Friday it appeared to be a done deal, with both Red Bulls well off the pace. However, yesterday showed a marked improvement and along with the long-run pace witnessed on Friday, Ricciardo and Verstappen could yet mount the challenge Toto and his men have been fearing.

And that's more than can be said of Ferrari, which would need the miracle of miracles if it is to repeat last year's feat. Whatever the problem is at Maranello - and we believe there are many - the Italian team is looking increasingly unsteady.

Whatever entertainment the Mercedes drivers might provide this afternoon, we are assured some decent scraps in what is a very tight midfield.

And that midfield, after a couple of seasons of hurt - though not thirty years - includes the McLaren duo, both of the Woking cars making to Q3 for the first time since Brazil 2014. Furthermore, they are there on merit.

Along with Alonso and Button, we have the Force Indias, Toro Rossos, Williams and Haas, while Renault also showed glimpses of improvement yesterday.

While we can expect some frantic battles this afternoon, spurred on by the thought that the summer hols are just around the corner, enthusiasm will need to be tempered.

As part of its continuing crack down on fun - sorry, rule breaking - the FIA is getting stricter on radio communications and track limits.

Indeed, with the aid of its sensors in Turns 4 and 11 - corners which have seen an abundance of incidents thus far - the Stewards have imposed a 'four strikes and you're out' policy.

Due to the mayhem that was qualifying, nobody had their times deleted yesterday, but today, once the lights go green, the visor falls and the adrenalin kicks in...

As at Silverstone, Pirelli is recommending the maximum number of laps each compound should be run for; in the case of the soft this is 29 laps and supersoft 14.

On this basis, the optimal pit-stop strategies are a two-stopper comprising two stints on soft of 29 laps each and one 12-lap stint on supersoft, a three-stopper comprising three stints on supersoft of 14 laps each and one 28-lap stint on soft or a three-stopper comprising two stints on soft of 24 laps each and two 11-lap stints on supersoft.

At 13:30 the pitlane opens... the drivers begin making their way out. One of the very last to arrive, making it by the skin of his teeth, is Massa who had a late scare with the steering on his car necessitating a change of steering rack.

As the national anthem is sung, evoking the memories of twelve months ago and the death of Jules Bianchi, the air temperature is 27 degrees C, while the track temperature is 52 degrees. Despite the blues skies, sunshine and scorchio temperatures, there is a 10% chance of rain.

As the field prepares to head off on the warm-up lap, mechanics are still working on Masa's car, the Brazilian complaining of a steering issue on his way to the grid.

All are starting on the supersofts bar Kvyat, Perez, Raikkonen, Palmer, Massa, Haryanto and Ericsson who start on soft.

They're away. Hamilton is initially away well but then allowing Rosberg to pull away as the Red Bulls and Ferrari close in.

Verstappen tries to go to the right of Hamilton and Ricciardo to the left of Rosberg, Vettel looking at the gap between the Australian and the Mercedes.

Into T1 and Hamilton has the inside line, with Rosberg alongside and Ricciardo trying to go around the outside of both of them. For the briefest of moments as they exit T1 Ricciardo has the lead, but Hamilton has the line and the Australian falls in behind.

On the charge to T2 it is Rosberg who has momentum, and the German is able to go around the outside of the Red Bull to take second.

At the end of lap 1, it's: Hamilton, Rosberg, Ricciardo, Verstappen, Vettel, Alonso, Sainz, Button, Bottas and Hulkenberg.

At the end of lap 2, Hamilton is already 1.3s clear of his teammate who has the Red Bull duo on his tail.

Bottas makes short work of Button, who is passed by Grosjean, Raikkonen, Gutierrez and Perez in quick succession. "The pedal's going to the floor," he shouts.

Despite his problem, he has dropped to last, Button is told to "stay out". "Oh, fantastic," he replies.

Other than Button, who is now 4.1s behind Ericsson, the rest of the field is pretty evenly spaced out.

As Button pits, Verstappen complains: "I'm driving like a Grandma".

Check out our Sunday gallery, here.


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1. Posted by C5, 24/07/2016 23:17

"Sadly for me, the race was overshadowed by multiple acts of incompetency

1. The ineptness of the FIA and their yet-again-changed moronic radio rules, which are even more clueless than their yet-again-changed track limit rules

2. The Three Blind Mice that were - apparently - race stewards this weekend, and totally missed Verstappen moving all over the place all the time the last third of the race

3. An utterly incompetent TV feed director, more interested in 'creative' camera shots than following the action on the track, and getting stuck on the same two cars for the entire last third of the race.

Damn, I feel I'm getting to sound as grumpy a Vettel!
Nice to see Daniel on the podium again though!

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Kkiirmki, 24/07/2016 21:29

"Thanks goodness for the Verstappen/Kimi fight. Otherwise, this was a fairly dull and predictable (after the first corner) race."

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

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