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Hamilton wins in Hungary

NEWS STORY
29/07/2018

Not that long ago, F1 let out a collective sigh when it arrived at the Hungaroring... and with good reason.

The circuit was notorious for the lack of overtaking, and though some pointed to Nigel Mansell's wonder move - with a little help from Stefan Johansson - on Ayrton Senna in 1989, others pointed to Thierry Boutsen's win a year later, the Belgian making full use of the circuit's characteristics as he held off the likes of Senna, Berger, Patrese and Mansell.

Tactics such as Boutsen's that day can produce great races - witness Gilles Villeneuve's epic performance at Jarama in 1981 - but more often than not they lead to processional bores.

Today's Grand Prix can go either way, we are either in for a thriller or a yawnfest.

The crazy weather conditions has led to a mixed up grid, not least the front row, which rather than being all-red is all-silver, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas having seized the opportunity and taken a thoroughly well-deserved - and much-needed - front row lock-out.

We say "much-needed", because, this race really can be decided in the first few corners.

With their speed advantage the Ferraris must take the lead right from the start, otherwise their hopes will rely on Mercedes suffering technical failures, a better tyre strategy or indeed the W09 being harder on its tyres.

With sunshine and high temperatures expected, Mercedes will be aware that it faces a tough challenge, however, it will also know that the characteristics of the track, providing its drivers make good starts, will allow for one to ride shotgun for the other.

At the same time, if both Ferraris can get ahead, Kimi Raikkonen will no doubt be called on to allow Sebastian Vettel to pull away.

No disrespect to Hamilton - as if we'd dare - Hockenheim-style heroics are not quite as easy at the Hungaroring, therefore those drivers starting out of position - yes, that means you Max, and you (again) Daniel - will have a tough task on their hands.

The last couple of races have spoiled us, as did yesterday's crazy qualifying session, and while we all want to see this continue today, pretty much all depends on those first few corners.

In the last few years, even though it is the same circuit, the quality of the racing at the Hungaroring has improved and as a result it is one the most popular events on the calendar, let's hope that today's race continues in this fashion.

Of course, yesterday's lottery means that Toro Rosso is essentially best of the rest, though Carlos Sainz will be seeking a good result as he looks to secure a drive for 2019.

On this most difficult of circuits, the Haas duo will first off need to keep away from one another at the start, before turning their attention to the threat from behind and the challenge ahead.

Of course, we're looking at all this from a doom and gloom point of view - aware of the track's history, the perfect weather conditions and the fact that the front runners won't want to take any unnecessary risks this afternoon, especially once the field has settled after the first lap. However, there is every chance that those starting further back, might want to make names for themselves.

One team starting well out of position is Force India, which has enough problems of its own, and with potential new owners in the wings what better way to convince them to stump up the cash whilst also saying farewell and thanks to Vijay Mallya.

As in Germany, Pirelli has skipped a compound, bringing the Mediums, softs and ultras used at Hockenheim. However, as in Germany and Silverstone the temperatures are increasing which will work in favour of Ferrari and against Mercedes.

Quickest strategy, according to Pirelli, is a one-stopper; starting on ultrasofts for 22 laps, then mediums to the end. Nearly as quick: start on softs for 27 laps and then mediums to the end. Alternatively, ultrasofts for 22 laps then softs to the end. A two-stopper (with higher ultrasoft degradation) could work as follows: two stints of 16 laps on ultrasofts, followed by a final stint on softs to the end. The pit stop window for ultrasoft is from laps 18-26 (assuming similar conditions to FP2 on Friday).

A late blow sees Lance Stroll forced to start from the pitlane after Williams changed his front wing following his Q2 crash yesterday. To make matters worse, it was the new wing, and since there is no replacement he will need to revert to the old wing.

The pitlane opens and one by one the drivers head out... all except Stroll.

Ahead of the national anthem there is a minute's silence for Sergio Marchionne, it brings back memories of that heart-breaking tribute here a couple of years back to the late Jules Bianchi.

Due to yesterday's crazy qualifying, drivers have free choice in terms of tyres this afternoon.

Ahead of the warm-up lap, the air temperature is 33 degrees C, while the track temperature is 57 degrees it is hot.

Those 617 metres from the grid to Turn 1 are surely going to be the longest 617 metres ever or the shortest, depending on how things work out for the leaders.

Hamilton, Bottas, Raikkonen, Gasly, Verstappen, Hartley, Magnussen, Grosjean, Ericsson and Perez start on ultras. The rest, including Vettel starting from 4th and Sainz 5th - are on softs, while Stroll starts from the pitlane on mediums. Other than Vettel and Sainz, Alonso, starting from 11th, is the highest starter on the softs.

They head off on the warm-up lap. Verstappen is advised of his rivals tyres strategies. Ricciardo is advised the track temperature could reach 62 degrees but fall to 55.

They're away. Strong starts from the Mercedes duo and Raikkonen, while Vettel is a little sluggish getting off the line and is almost passed by Sainz.

Hamilton leads into T1, with Bottas behind, the Finn having Raikkonen on his outside and Vettel looking to move to the inside. Behind, Verstappen leaves his braking very, very late and gets through on the inside of Sainz, the two appearing to touch, with Gasly following the Dutch youngster through.

On the run to T2 the Ferraris are side-by-side and as they go into T3 Vettel goes around the outside of his teammate, almost picking off Bottas in the process, however the Finn holds his line.

At the end of lap 1, it's: Hamilton, Bottas, Vettel, Raikkonen, Verstappen, Gasly, Magnussen, Sainz, Hartley and Hulkenberg. Grosjean has dropped to 12th and Ricciardo 16th.

Leclerc's race is over before it has begun, the Sauber stopped on the pit straight with some smoke billowing from the rear.

Ricciardo is advised he might left-front have contact damage. The Australian isn't sure if it's wing or tyre. Replay shows him clashing with Ericsson at the first corner, while Leclerc was sandwiched by the Force Indias and actually hit by Perez.

As he builds a lead of 2.1s, Hamilton posts a fastest lap (22.893).

"There's quite a big vibration from the left-front," warns Ricciardo. "I'll keep you posted." He is told to stay out.

Despite his issues, Ricciardo is battling with Vandoorne for 13th, the Red Bull attempting a cheeky move around the outside at T2 but running out of track.

Next time around Ricciardo nails Vandoorne at T1, while Verstappen shouts "no power, no power" as he slows and slips down the order.

Indeed as the Dutch youngster parks his car at T6, the VSC is deployed.

Within the lap the VSC is withdrawn again.

Replay reveals Verstappen has access to a wide vocabulary of naughty words, as he reveals his feelings on the Renault power unit.

Meanwhile, Ericsson has pitted and switched to mediums.

Again Ricciardo is wheel-to-wheel, this time with Alonso, who was seemingly caught asleep by Grosjean at the end of the VSC period.

Ricciardo finally passes Alonso and though the McLaren driver fights back there is little point. The Australian is up to 11th.

Check out our Sunday gallery from the Hungaroring, here.

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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 30/07/2018 1:39

"@Tardis40 Hardly worth the others turning up then!
Seb, OTOH never gets an even brake[sic]"

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2. Posted by Tardis40, 30/07/2018 1:12

"Hamilton lives a charmed life. Wins just fall into his lap. Everyone else has to work for them."

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