Sebastian Vettel pulls further ahead with Hungary win

Lewis Hamilton will now head into the summer break 14 points behind Vettel

Sebastian Vettel drove to victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix, staving off handling problems and charges from both his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton to convert his pole into a win.

Vettel had been visibly slower than both the two chasing cars but Ferrari chose not to pull him over in favour of Raikkonen and it was the right call as passing proved almost impossible at the Hungaroring. Raikkonen finished in second and Hamilton ultimately in fourth having given the third place spot he had inherited from his Mercedes team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, back to the Finn at the end.

“I am over the moon,” Vettel said. “It may not have looked like it but it was a difficult race. I had my hands full from the start. Something went wrong. The steering started to go sideways. Towards the end it came back when I had a cushion but I had to stay focused the whole race.”

Vettel has won only once previously in Hungary for Ferrari, in 2015, and it is his fourth win this season, having taken the flag in Australia, Bahrain and Monaco. Crucially, his 46th career victory has also put him equal with Hamilton in wins this season and means he has extended his lead in the world championship battle. He is now 14 points ahead of the British driver.


The second-place finish for Raikkonen earned him a new record as the driver with the most podium appearances at the Hungaroring. His eighth podium finish puts him one ahead of Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher in Budapest.

Vettel held the lead into turn one from the off but Hamilton dropped places to both the Red Bulls. He was looking to fight back when Max Verstappen locked up approaching turn two and went into the side of his team-mate Ricciardo, putting him out of the race and triggering the safety car. The Australian had given him plenty of room and Verstappen was given a 10 second time penalty for causing a collision.

Vettel maintained the lead when racing resumed on lap five, with Raikkonen, Bottas and Verstappen all still in front of Hamilton. Out front the German was putting his Ferrari through its paces and he had a 2.7-second gap over his team-mate by lap nine with Hamilton already 9.4sec in arrears. Indeed at this point the two Ferraris were already in a class of their own. They had five seconds on Bottas in third by lap 14.

The Finn was the first of the top five to pit when he came in for the soft tyres on lap 30. Hamilton, who had been having radio issues with the team able to speak to him but not able to hear his replies, followed a lap later. Vettel had been looking to try to make his first stint last as long as possible but with the fronts losing grip he pitted on lap 32. Raikkonen did the same a lap later, with all three drivers taking the soft rubber and maintaining their order in relation to one another.

Verstappen held the lead with Red Bull keeping him out as long as possible but behind him the race was becoming tactically complex. By lap 37 Vettel was clearly struggling with his handling and Hamilton had caught Bottas and both Mercedes were closing on the Ferraris.

Vettel, who had been told to stay off the kerbs, was slowing up Raikkonen and the unhappy Finn told Ferrari he was quicker and that he was under threat from the Mercedes. Verstappen finally pitted on lap 42 and took his penalty, feeding back in fifth place but in front of him the top four were now within five seconds of one another.

With radio contact re-established Hamilton in turn told his team he was quicker than Bottas and could go after the Ferraris. Mercedes chose to act. Hamilton was clearly quicker and Bottas was told to let him past on lap 47, with Hamilton agreeing to give the place back if he could not go on to take Raikkonen. He went after the Finn with alacrity but Raikkonen responded and closed straight up to the back of Vettel and again was demanding the team take action but Ferrari stuck to their guns and opted to keep Vettel out front.

Ultimately it proved the right decision. With the new cars and the huge wakes they create proving to make overtaking all but impossible at the Hungaroring, Hamilton pushed but could not pass and nor could Raikkonen.

Verstappen had closed on Bottas in fourth but Hamilton, as he had agreed, let the Finn back past for third at the death, while the Dutchman took fifth. McLaren finally netted some good points with Fernando Alonso in sixth and Stoffel Vandoorne 10th. The Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr was a strong seventh ahead of the two Force Indias of Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon in eighth an ninth.

Paul di Resta, drafted in to replace Felipe Massa at Williams after the Brazilian was not fit to drive due to an illness, put in a sterling performance, although he had to retire his car from 18th place on lap 63.

Di Resta is the Williams reserve driver and until qualifying had never driven the current generation of F1 car. Indeed he has only briefly tested a 2014 car once before. The British driver races in the German DTM series and has not undergone a race start or pit stop since his last outing for Force India, with whom he drove for three years, at Brazil in 2013.

(Guardian service)