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2015 Hungarian GP Post-Race Report

Posted on 27 July 2015

By Kate Walker

As a race, the 2015 Hungarian Grand Prix could not have been better timed. With only one round in the seven week gap between Silverstone and Spa, Formula One was relying on the Hungaroring to deliver the sort of thriller that would keep the fans talking throughout the summer break.

The Hungaroring delivered in spades.

From Ferrari’s surprise victory to Mercedes’ day of horrors, the Hungarian Grand Prix was an absolute classic. For the first time since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, no Mercedes driver appeared on the podium. Instead, Sebastian Vettel claimed his second career win for Ferrari, flanked by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat, the latter man celebrating his first podium finish in the sport.

The 69-lap race - cut short by a lap after Felipe Massa was found to be out of position on the original start - was a battle of skills and wills, and the Budapest circuit was the scene of a number of heroic fightbacks, several of which came courtesy of championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

Both Mercedes drivers were left choking on the dust of the Ferraris at the second start, and in trying to defend against his teammate Hamilton ran wide and dropped from first to tenth over the course of the first lap. The Briton later had to pit for a new nose cone after contact with Ricciardo, in an incident that also saw the Mercedes driver issued with a drive-through penalty. Despite running around at the back of the pack with fewer than 20 laps remaining, Hamilton was able to claw his way back up through the field to cross the line in sixth.

Thanks to late race drama for Nico Rosberg, Hamilton’s bad day at the office actually saw the Briton extend his championship lead, a vital psychological victory as the F1 circus heads off for its summer break. Rosberg was defending against Ricciardo for second place when contact between the pair left the German with a dramatic puncture. After limping back to the pits on his rims, Rosberg - who had been on course for a podium finish - collected only four points for eighth.

But the action at the front of the pack was only part of the story. Retirements for Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg have hurt Force India in the constructors’ championship, and are likely to dent confidence in the team’s new car, while Pastor Maldonado’s three separate in-race penalties should prove uncomfortable food for thought during the forthcoming break.

F1’s summer shutdown means that the Hungarian Grand Prix can often prove to be a vital turning point in the psychological battle for the championship. With the Mercedes pair still favourites for the drivers’ title, the fact that Hamilton’s very bad day at the office still saw the Briton extend his championship lead will affect Rosberg’s confidence at a time when there is no chance to respond on track. How he handles it will be the making or breaking of his championship challenge in the coming months: Rosberg can choose to use his Budapest disappointment as the motivation for a fightback, or he can let it get to his head. The choice is Nico’s, and Nico’s alone.

When the F1 circus moves on to Singapore’s Marina Bay Street Circuit in two months’ time there are lessons learned this weekend in Hungary that will prove useful. While the Hungaroring is an over-sized go-kart track and Singapore a street circuit, the low speed corners and low power circuit configuration make similar demands on the cars.

As a consequence, the Singapore Grand Prix represents another opportunity for both Red Bull and McLaren to pick up valuable points in the constructors’ championship after the power hungry tracks of Spa-Francorchamps and Monza, the next two rounds on the calendar.

Kate Walker has been covering Formula One since the start of the 2010 season. Currently F1 writer for ESPN, motorsport.com, and GP Week, her articles have also appeared in the Financial Times, Grand Prix+, and in the official Formula One™ race programmes.

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