Ricciardo rules again

HUNGARORING REVIEW

Dani strikes twice! Image Copyright © AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

Dani strikes twice! Image Copyright © AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

He hung his RBR10 out over the kerbs at T2. He held on like a matador in a bull-fight, muscling Hamilton out through the inner racing line of T3. Next up was the Spaniard in the red Ferrari, who has taken to ‘bullfighting’ of late, but this time around, was easy meat for the Aussie on fresh soft tyres. Nothing now, could deny the smiling Daniel Ricciardo a second Grand Prix win in 2014.

But while he was sealing his victory, behind the trail of Alonso and Hamilton – a charging Rosberg was eating away into all three of them’s race at nearly 3secs per lap! And with 9 laps remaining in the 70-lap race, the Hungarian Grand Prix instantly became the season’s classic!

Hamilton, the Safety Car and wet-weather conditions ultimately denied pole-sitter Rosberg, a podium place. He crossed the start-finish line in P4, his lowest points finish of this season so far. But it wasn’t without controversy and drama.

When the lights went out at Hungary, Rosberg blitzed away from the pursuing pack at a storming pace. Posting fastest laps in rapid succession he was almost 9 seconds ahead in the lead when the first Safety Car was brought out. A crashing Caterham of Marcus Ericsson, left debris scattered all over the track with the car and driver in a dangerous position.

In a dramatic twist however, the top four of the leading pack had crossed the pit entry and caught the Safety Car after the pit exit. This meant they had to complete another full lap at a slower pace before switching to fresh rubber while the rest of the field pitted. Including Lewis Hamilton, who started from the pit lane! He saw his entire disadvantage of starting from that far behind wiped out clean. When the racing was resumed, Ricciardo led from Button’s McLaren and Massa’s Williams.

SC! SC! SC! Image Copyright © AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

SC! SC! SC! Image Copyright © AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

Rosberg, Magnussen, Vergne, Vettel and Alonso trailed behind them followed by Hulkenberg, Perez, Bottas, Gutierrez and Hamilton.

Romain Grosjean spun at T3 and crashed out forcing the Safety Car to stay out longer. At the restart, Alonso began to pounce on the cars in front of him getting past Vettel, Vergne, Magnussen and Rosberg! Demoting the Championship leader to P6.

Hamilton dismissed Perez, Hulkenberg, Bottas and Gutierrez all in a single lap, leaving just Vettel sandwiched between him and his title rival, Rosberg!

On Lap 23, at the final corner, Sergio Perez ran over the outside kerb and got caught out. His VJM07 spun around violently crashing into the main pit wall. The crash saw the Safety Car intervene again! Race leader Ricciardo and the two Williamses dived into the pits. And Alonso was now leading the race. Vergne held off all attempts of passing, by Rosberg, while Vettel, Hamilton and the fresh-tyre shod Ricciardo, chased.

Mercedes called in Rosberg for fresh tyres as well, as he was making no progress on the Toro Rosso. His strategy now was to be a three-stopper while Hamilton running on primes was always on a two-stopper. It seemed, the strategy for the car starting last was more about damage-limitation than for a win. Vettel in his RBR10, almost carbon-copied the accident of the spinning Force India in the last corner. But he managed to hold on to a dramatic 360º spin, just narrowly missing the wall, but flat-spotting all four tyres. His challenge for a podium spot vanished at this point. Another mistake for the four-time champion, while his rookie team mate raced away in the distance.

It was Hamilton’s turn, while in hot pursuit of Alonso, to deal with the Toro Rosso of Vergne. Having attempted to pass on the straight, the Briton kept the momentum going through to T4 on the outside of the Frenchman. It was an amazing take, with his right rear wheel flicking up dirt!

Ricciardo was in P3. On Lap 38, Alonso pitted followed by Hamilton the next lap. The Red Bull, now leading, had to pit again and therefore required to build a gap of about 22 seconds to rejoin ahead. The lead was now about 16 seconds. And on Lap 54, Ricciardo took his final stop. He joined ahead of Rosberg but behind Hamilton and Alonso. Crucially he was on new faster, soft option compounds.

Meanwhile, Rosberg who was going to swap tyres once more found Hamilton in front of him. The team asked Hamilton to move over for Rosberg because ‘he was on a different strategy’ they explained. A modified strategy to win from pole position, originally.

Hamilton refused to budge. And in doing so, held onto valuable track position even after Rosberg rejoined the fight with new tyres that were faster than Ricciardo’s, on Lap 61. Hamilton secured P3. An astonishing feat given that he started last from the pit lane.

Has he denied Mercedes AMG Petronas another win this season? Or has he lived up to their public image of allowing both their drivers a fair shot at the title?

Pit lane to P3. Image Copyright © AP Photo/Petr David Josek

Pit lane to P3. Image Copyright © AP Photo/Petr David Josek

The end of the summer break has never ever been so eagerly anticipated. Bring on Spa!

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PODIUM

P1 Ricciardo – Red Bull Racing 1hr  53m 05.058s
P2 Alonso – Scuderia Ferrari
P3 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG

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Mercedes conquer mountains

SPIELBERG REVIEW

Rosberg leads the pack. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

Rosberg climbs to T2. Image Copyright © Mercedes AMG

A scenic return to alpine forests and grassy mountains in Austria, saw the Turbo Hybrids perform against a backdrop of spectacular green landscape. A perfect setting to promote eco-friendly technology and the new green formula.

The circus last visited here in 2003.

Lewis Hamilton seemed unable to do anything about his German team mate’s height -scaling form of recent. He did however botch up two Q3 laps on Saturday and found himself sitting all perplexed on the grid in P9. Was it the W05 that let him down with a sudden spin under braking or was he cracking under pressure as his championship lead had all but vanished?

At the race start though, he was spectacular. Leaping from P9 to P4 in the span of half a lap swallowing the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and the STR of Daniil Kvyat right off the blocks! He was right behind Nico Rosberg in the sister Mercedes on Lap 2 although behind both the fast starting Williams Martini Racing cars.

For Hamilton, though the race had its ups and downs, with agonisingly slow pit stops and ERS K and tyre precautions he was destined to finish behind Rosberg. Again.

His car managed the rear tyre wear better than that of Rosberg’s and he was encouraged to have a go for the lead in the closing stages. But the closest he got was about .562s of car #6 after many attempts.

In this race, he had to battle against the equally Mercedes-powered cars of Felipe Massa and Finn Valterri Bottas too, who were in turn fighting to claim the third step on the podium. The Williams Martini Racing cars came good on Saturday sealing an all Williams-lock-out of the front row. Their chassis seemed to ride the Super Soft Option tyres more effectively than the Mercedes factory team. But the Germans were confident of race pace.

Massa, after taking pole earlier could not match his Finnish team mate’s solid drive to his first ever Formula One podium. Behind him, Fernando Alonso, Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen shone for their teams in what was a technically challenging circuit for the new V6 machines. Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen brought up the top ten. Ricciardo was advised not to use his overtake button as earlier Sebastian Vettel’s car stalled when he deployed it.

Lewis’ attempts on Nico were as futile as Rossi on Marquez in MotoGP. Rosberg had just enough to distance himself in the sectors that mattered.

With this win, Nico Rosberg helped Mercedes achieve their 7th 1-2 of the season. An incredible feat. Next stop is Silverstone. The momentum has firmly swung back into the Rosberg garage as he leads Hamilton by a healthy 29 points now in the championship.

Will he humiliate his nearest competitor on what is his home ground? Or will Lewis reward his fans with a fantastic win? Bring on the British Grand Prix!

_

PODIUM

P1 Rosberg – Mercedes AMG 1hr 27m 54.976s
P2 Hamilton – Mercedes AMG
P3 Bottas – Williams Martini Racing

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