Team-Mate Wars: Hungarian Grand Prix

Date published: August 4 2017

Time to see which drivers had the final say before they began their summer jollies; Nico Hulkenberg's kind offer is misinterpreted and there is a new recipient of the Pastor Maldonado Award.

Mercedes
Hamilton 8 – Bottas 3
Race: Hamilton

Having shown stunning pace in Q2, Lewis knew he underperformed in Q3 on Saturday and was unlikely to get a stellar start from the dirty side of the grid. In the end, the Red Bulls took themselves out of the race when the lights went out, but he was staring at a teeth-grindingly difficult afternoon and 5th or 6th place otherwise.

Ultimately when Max was taken out of the way he was significantly faster than team-mate Bottas, but if he wasn’t quick enough to pass a car that was slower than him, it would always be a struggle to pass a car that was quick through the final turn. And so it proved. Bottas put in a solid performance but was falling back at the end, and was the recipient of Hamilton’s heart-warming sense of fair play.

Ferrari
Vettel 6 – Raikkonen 5
Race: Raikkonen

Another strong race weekend for Kimi in front of a re-invigorated Finnish-Hungarian contingent that used to flock to the hillsides of Budapest in the days of Mika Hakkinen.

Raikkonen may not have had Vettel’s sensational qualifying speed – Sebastian’s pole lap was up there with Lewis’s Silverstone P1 – but he clearly would have won the race had he been allowed to pass Vettel.

And had Raikkonen not been the buffer between Vettel and Hamilton, then it is likely that Lewis would have ended up in P2. So, the perfect team-player job for the ever-demanding Sergio Marchionne.

Kimi will surely get another season for the Scuderia and with a new Sauber-Ferrari deal announced maybe Charles LeClerc will be placed in a Sauber for 2018.

Red Bull
Max Verstappen 8 – Daniel Ricciardo 3
Race: Verstappen

Despite the widespread prophecy that this could be a ‘Red Bull weekend’, Christian Horner’s team didn’t have the pace of the Ferrari and would have struggled to pass the Mercedes.

Obviously the major talking point was the Ricciardo-Verstappen impact at Turn 2 on the opening lap, which was unfortunate, but not a Formula Ford move.

Turn 2, as we have seen over the years, can accommodate two drivers side by side (unless your name’s Kevin Magnussen) and it looked like that Max went for the inside line round the turn and simply misjudged his braking. It was described as a ‘lunge’ but from the onboard it didn’t look like a lunge. And certainly if the stewards are working on a new ‘light touch/let them race’ approach, a penalty for it was crazy.

Daniel was just very unlucky. Azerbaijan was an unlikely gift; in Budapest the god of F1 took a result back.

This all came about because of Max’s love of going round the outside of opening corners and getting pushed wide, as we have seen all season. He looked to have made up places by taking that line and then got pushed out onto the run-off and lost traction.

Force India
Sergio Perez 7 – Esteban Ocon 4
Race: Ocon

Perez qualified behind Ocon, but got a great getaway and decided to try and outbrake his team-mate into Turn 1. Instead of turning right, he went straight on, clouted Ocon and then got on the radio to say, “I just had a little touch from Esteban, but I think all is good.” Which was a bit like Max getting on the radio and saying, “I just had a little touch from Daniel…”

After the clash they finished in that order, but the term ‘Team-Mate Wars’ (trademark Planet-F1) could certainly describe their relationship.

Williams
Felipe Massa/Di Resta 10 – Lance Stroll 1
Race: Stroll

Paul Di Resta did a remarkable job on Saturday, getting into a car he’d never driven before and managing to avoid P.20 in Q1. The superlatives have already been trotted out, but it truly was a remarkable performance from the Scot, and showed what great talent there is, not in F1.

Lance Stroll used the opportunity to put a score on the board in TMW, because this was the equivalent of an open goal with the ball a yard out. The greatest pity was that Di Resta couldn’t finish the race because of an engine problem.

Massa’s dizziness will be a cause for concern if it recurs. The violent trauma of his 2009 head injury may yet have repercussions.

McLaren
Fernando Alonso 9 – Stoffel Vandoorne 1
Jenson Button 1- Stoffel Vandoorne 0
Race: Alonso

It’s a sign of how much Alonso’s dominance is entrenched, that when Vandoorne goes quicker than him in any one session, it’s big news.

Vandoorne wasn’t quicker for very long in Hungary, as Alonso showed just what the McLaren chassis could deliver, bringing the car home sixth and astoundingly, putting in the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate tour.

Let’s be clear, this wasn’t a mid-grid car putting on a new set of ultrasofts at the end of the race and going on a qualifying sim; this was a car racing flat out against a close competitor (Sainz) at the end of a stint.

Vandoorne yet again muffed a big opportunity by sliding down the points with dodgy braking on his pitstop. He will be crucially aware that fellow McLaren tester, Lando Norris, produced a time second only to Vettel this week…

Toro Rosso
Carlos Sainz 8 – Daniil Kvyat 3
Race: Sainz

Sainz was locked in a feisty battle with Fernando Alonso for over half the race and defended robustly, but fairly, until the master got the better of him on Lap 37. Kvyat would have been in the points had he not blocked Stroll in qualifying and picked up a grid penalty.

Haas
Romain Grosjean 5 – Kevin Magnussen 6
Race: Magnussen

Team Whinge had a lot more to moan about in Budapest. Antonio Giovinazzi-Maldonado managed to shunt another car, Kevin Magnussen’s, but despite this lack of running, Kev managed to qualify only 0.01 behind Grosjean.

In the race Grosjean got punted onto two wheels at the opening corner by “Dirty Nico” and the Haas-Renault feudin’ began.

Renault
Nico Hulkenberg 10 – Jolyon Palmer 1
Race: Hulkenberg

Hulkenberg outqualified his team-mate for what might well be the last time. With Robert Kubica shining in Hungary testing, completing two race distances in a single day and passing the driver extraction test, all is set for him to join Nico in Spa… should Renault wish. Then it really would get interesting between the yellow-and-black cars.

Hulkenberg had an eventful race, doing very little wrong with his Grosjean contact at the start of the race, and then getting pushed off the road by Kevin Magnussen. For which the Dane was punished. Kevin’s post-race offer to share some of his delicious aniseed balls, to say sorry, was widely misinterpreted in the media.

Sauber
Marcus Ericsson 2 – Antonio Giovinazzi 0
Marcus Ericsson 4 – Pascal Werhlein 5
Race: Wehrlein

No wheel banging this time round, Wehrlein executed a Fernando-Alonso-like move on Ericsson into Turn 2 and took the bragging rights.

Star of the Race: Fernando Alonso
Overtaking Move of the Race:  Lap 37: Fernando Alonso around the outside of Carlos Sainz at Turn 2.
The Maldonado Award: Sergio Perez. (Max cared that he hit his team-mate, Sergio didn’t)
The Last Word: Daniel Ricciardo on team radio: “Is that who I think it was…”

Andrew Davies

 

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