• Hungarian GP - Race

Ricciardo wins thrilling Hungarian GP from Alonso

Laurence Edmondson at the Hungaroring
July 27, 2014
© Getty Images

Daniel Ricciardo won a thrilling Hungarian Grand Prix that had drama, controversy and wheel-to-wheel racing to rival any race this season.

The Story of the Race

  • Shock: Jean-Eric Vergne mixing it with the big boys after the first Safety Car period, refusing to yield to Nico Rosberg on a number of occasions while running second.
  • Shocker: McLaren's weather forecasting skills leave much to be desired but Mercedes asking Lewis Hamilton to let Nico Rosberg by when on different strategies will be the story which lingers from this one.
  • Best overtake: Daniel Ricciardo's brave moves on Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were spectacular. Hamilton's awesome wheels-on-the-grass pass on Vergne also deserves honourable mention, one of the finest you will see this year.
  • Best lap:Lap 67 and 68 for Daniel Ricciardo saw him jump from third to first, flying by Hamilton and then diving down the inside of Alonso with incredibly ballsy driving.
  • Worst lap:The lap Nico Rosberg had to complete after the Safety Car was deployed cost him what otherwise could have been a fairly straight-forward victory.
  • Drive of the day: Daniel Ricciardo for his superb middle and final stints. Fernando Alonso for an absolutely sensational podium for Ferrari. Lewis Hamilton for his pit-lane-to-podium drive. All three turned in very different, but equally spectacular, drives and each deserved to take the win.
  • Nate Saunders

Ricciardo took the lead after pulling two brave overtaking moves on lap 67 and 68 to move from third to first. Fernando Alonso held on for an equally impressive second place in the Ferrari ahead of the warring Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, which were both involved in a four-way battle for the lead in the closing stages.

Ricciardo was helped and Rosberg hindered by an early safety car to clear the wreckage of Marcus Ericsson's Caterham, but that should take nothing from the Red Bull driver's aggressive and measured push for victory during the remainder of the race. Alonso managed to complete 32 laps on a single set of soft tyres, as mixed conditions made way for tyre strategy in the second half of the race. Hamilton's third place was also remarkable given that he started from the pit lane and had a spin at the second corner that could have eliminated him from the race on lap one.

Felipe Massa took fifth from Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas who all had fascinating races of their own over the course of the 70-lap distance. Jean-Eric Vergne took ninth in the Toro Rosso after running as high as second at one point while Jenson Button, who led after the first safety car, took the final point in tenth.

In wet conditions and with a field on intermediate tyres, Rosberg made a good start from pole position and initially had Bottas for company in the first corner before making use of the pace of his Mercedes to pull a comfortable gap over the first lap. Hamilton, meanwhile, had started from the pit lane with cold brakes and lost the rear of his car into Turn 2, nudging the barrier as car swapped ends. He managed to get the Mercedes pointing in the right direction again and set off without any obvious damage to his car.

Hamilton was up to 13th when Ericsson lost the rear of his Caterham on the exit of Turn 3 and speared into the barriers. The debris littered the exit of the corner and the safety car was immediately deployed to neutralise the race. Button, Ricciardo and Hamilton were among the drivers to pit immediately and were rewarded with track position. Rosberg, Bottas, Vettel and Alonso all lost out by pitting a lap later, demoting Rosberg to fourth behind Massa, Button and new race leader Ricciardo. Alonso was down in eighth and Hamilton remained 13th, but with the track now dry tyre strategy started to come in to play.

The restart of the race was delayed by Romain Grosjean spinning off while trying to warm his slick tyres, meaning racing did not resume until the end of lap 13. Button, who had opted for a second set of intermediates, took the lead, but it was short-lived with the rain staying away for the rest of the afternoon. Rosberg appeared to be struggling on the slicks and dropped to fifth behind Vergne's Toro Rosso before a second safety car was deployed when Sergio Perez spun at the final corner and demolished his Force India against the pit wall.

Ricciardo took the opportunity to pit for a fresh set of slicks along with Massa, giving Alonso the lead at the restart on lap 26 from Vergne and Rosberg. Once again, Vergne did a good job at keeping Rosberg at bay before the Mercedes pitted on lap 32. As the Mercedes entered the pit lane, Vettel ran wide and into a spin coming out of the final corner but somehow kept his car out of the barrier to prevent another safety car. He pitted the next lap and came out ahead of Hamilton, who was still on the charge.

Fernando Alonso leads Lewis Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo during the thrilling climax © Getty Images
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Alonso stayed out until lap 38, when he took on soft tyres that, although it wasn't planned at the time, would eventually see him to the end of the race. Hamilton, who had moved through the order, pitted on lap 39 for medium tyres, with the intention making the end of the race on a two-stop strategy.

Rosberg, who was on a three-stop strategy, eventually arrived on Hamilton's gearbox, prompting the Mercedes pit wall to ask Hamilton to move aside. However, Hamilton, keen to focus on his own race and able to keep comfortably ahead of his team-mate, ignored the order and remained in front, much to Rosberg's frustration.

Ricciardo made his final stop on lap 54, dropping him to fourth and with 16 laps remaining to make the most of fresh soft tyres. Rosberg was shuffled behind the Red Bull when he pitted on lap 56 and was told to target "qualifying laps" until the end of the race.

Alonso, on the oldest tyres of the top four, led Hamilton at the front and showed signs of fragility when he was forced to cut the chicane on lap 63. Hamilton also started to struggle on his aging rubber as he locked up from corner to corner, while Ricciardo closed in behind and waited to pick his moment. On lap 67 he went to the outside of Hamilton at Turn 2, drifted his Red Bull around the outside line, before taking the apex at Turn 3 to move up to second. Keen not to waste any time, he then lunged down the inside of Alonso at Turn 1 on lap 68 to take the lead that he would hold until the end of the race.

By that time Rosberg had arrived on the rear of Hamilton, but was unable to find a way past, which will have only added to his sense of injustice following the ignored radio calls 20 laps earlier. Alonso, meanwhile, nursed his 32-lap old soft tyres to the finish to take second behind Ricciardo.

The result closes the gap between Rosberg and Hamilton to 11 points at the top of the championship and leaves the title battle perfectly poised ahead of the four-week gap to the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August.