Hungarian Grand Prix driver ratings


Hungarian Grand Prix driver ratings

Which driver is heading off for a well-deserved summer break after the Hungarian Grand Prix? Our ratings fresh from the Hungaroring…

Lewis Hamilton: Back-to-back victories, a sixth victory in Hungary and, much more importantly, a 24-point lead in the World Championship standings heading into the summer break. Things are looking pretty rosy for the Brit.

Mercedes feared Hungary, but this was a walk in the park on reflection for Hamilton. He showed his class when the heavens opened in qualifying with a 77th career pole position and controlled a pretty straightforward race from there.

He had Valtteri Bottas acting as buffer for a large part of the race and his pace had Ferrari putting big black lines through Plan A and Plan B for his title rival Sebastian Vettel. Dominant from start to finish. 9.5

Sebastian Vettel:In control in the dry, but, like Germany, rain took Vettel out of his comfort zone in qualifying and resulted in a P4 start behind Kimi Raikkonen and the two Mercedes cars.

Vettel still had hopes of winning from there, especially with the weather conditions swinging back into his and Ferrari’s favour on a hot and humid afternoon at the Hungaroring. Orchestrated or not, he made light work of Raikkonen at the start and then was in it for the long haul as Ferrari opted to start Vettel on the softs compared to his rivals initially running the ultras.

With an early Raikkonen pit stop baiting Bottas to cover him off, it gave Vettel the clean air he needed to set off in pursuit of Hamilton. But with that difference of starting tyre, Vettel could only take bite-size chunks out of Hamilton’s lead.

He did have the pace to get outside of Bottas’ pit window, but a combination of traffic problems and a slow pit stop saw Vettel re-emerge in P3. Getting back in front of Bottas then became the main priority with Hamilton home and hosed and he managed to pick up a few more precious points – albeit not in the cleanest of manners – in the dying stages of the race when squeezing past the Finn at Turn 2.

A result Vettel would have accepted as he could have easily picked up a puncture when coming into contract with Bottas. 7.5

Kimi Raikkonen:Kimi is still hanging on in there, isn’t he? He out-qualified Vettel for the first time since Australia and pole position could have well been his had Romain Grosjean not got in his way – he really excelled in those wet conditions.

One area where he doesn’t excel is race starts as he has still yet to gain a place by the end of the opening lap of any race in 2018 and lost out to Vettel at Turn 2.

Raikkonen’s race was made even more difficult as he had to cope with the sweltering temperatures without any drinks because Ferrari forgot to connect it.

A very early pit stop showed that Ferrari were only willing to use the ‘Ice Man’ as part of their tactical game with Mercedes, but a slow change due to rubber being lodged in the brake inlet only added to Raikkonen’s early woes.

A second stop under the VSC allowed Raikkonen to get on the back of the Bottas and Vettel squabble for P2 and, due to his fellow Finn’s late collisions with Vettel and Ricciardo, Raikkonen was able to grab firm hold of a fifth consecutive podium finish. 7.5

Daniel Ricciardo:  The Aussie is growing increasingly frustrated with Formula 1 and said ahead of the race that he was really looking forward to the summer break. But, a P4 finish in Hungary allowed us to see one final glint of a smile from Ricciardo after providing much of the early action at the Hungaroring.

A mess of a qualifying due to wrong tyre choice in Q1, plus yellow flags and worsening conditions in Q2 left Ricciardo starting from P12 on the grid and another afternoon of working his way back up toward the big dogs.

Contact with Marcus Ericsson slowed down his early progress and lost him some more places, but thankfully, with no lasting damage from that incident he was able to hog much the spotlight, especially at Turn 1 where he consistently found his way past the other midfield runners in his superior Red Bull car.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner, who had plenty to say during the race, also said that P5 was the target for Ricciardo and he achieved that in his usual, uber-cool manner.

He got the added bonus of an extra place late in proceedings when Bottas hit trouble with his wore-down tyres and he will be relieved their contact at Turn 1 did not end in another race retirement. The way things have panned out for him since winning in Monaco, it would have come as no shock to see it end that way. 8

Valtteri Bottas: Bottas stated at the start of the race weekend that there was no plan for him to play a support role to Hamilton, yet, come race day, that was exactly what he was doing.

As Hamilton sailed off into the distance after a clean start, it was up to Bottas to keep the two Ferraris behind for the rest of the afternoon in Hungary.

He was forced into an early pit stop to cover off Raikkonen’s early move but, while his compatriot switched to a two-stop, Bottas had the thankless task of trying to make the soft tyres last the best part of 50 laps.

That made him a vulnerable target in the closing stages and two late, dramatic collisions saw him fall from P2 to P5, even having to let Ricciardo through for P4 after being told to by his team radio.

Even if Mercedes had pitted Bottas again under the second VSC then that would have still given track position to Vettel on a track where it is difficult to overtake. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

The harsh truth of it all is that Bottas did not successfully complete his support job despite a valiant effort and it allowed Ferrari to limit some of the damage by recording a double podium finish. 7

Watch: Bottas in collisions with Vettel and Ricciardo

Pierre Gasly:What a drive from Gasly! He is arguably the star of the show in Hungary with a performance which matched another great display back in Bahrain.

Starting P6 and finishing P6 does not sound particularly amazing but he was the last driver to finish on the lead lap in Budapest, which, with a Honda engine in such a clear two-tier Formula 1 system is no easy feat. P6 was great reward for an excellent showing in qualifying and, although he did benefit from Max Verstappen’s unfortunate DNF, he deserves a lot of credit for keeping his Toro Rosso ahead of the likes of Kevin Magnussen in the superior Haas car. 10

Kevin Magnussen:Another solid drive to add to the ever-growing collection for K-Mag as he picks up a seventh points finish of the season. Ricciardo was making it look very easy as he sliced through the midfield on his way to P4, but Magnussen proved to be the trickiest driver of the lot to overtake with some excellent defending skills.

From there, the threat of Hulkenberg quickly disappeared after his second stop and K-Mag kept out in front of his old mate Alonso to rise a couple of places from his starting position – P9 to P7. 8

Fernando Alonso: The birthday boy let his driving do the talking once again after the main focus was on his hilarious exchanges with the McLaren pit wall during qualifying.

He got off to a great start and, although he let Grosjean creep back in after the end of the first VSC, he was able to clear a groggy midfield battle involving the likes of Sainz and Ocon and come home in P8 for the third time in fourth races after starting in P11. 8

Carlos Sainz: Sainz’s future in Formula 1 is in limbo as he continues to wait for Ricciardo to sign with Red Bull and Ocon seemingly in pole position for his seat at Renault. McLaren or a possible return to Toro Rosso could be options; a scarier thought is that he could end up without a drive altogether.

If Sainz is in the shop window, then he will be attracting customers as he registered his best-ever qualifying performance of his career with a P5 which was achieved by bravely defying a team call to pit for new tyres and put another lap in instead as the thunderstorms battered the Hungaroring.

There was some contact with Verstappen at the start and he lost places to Gasly and Magnussen as a result early doors, but, unlike his team-mate who switched to damaging two-stop, Sainz went to the end of the race on the mediums and got a couple of points for his troubles. 7.5

Romain Grosjean: Grosjean has been told that consistency is key to him staying at Haas next season and he is beginning to show some now with a third points finish in four races. It wasn’t anything like the dramatic late surge we saw from him in Germany as he lost time and places after the first round of pit stops and found himself looking ahead at a battle between Sainz and Ocon.

He let his feelings be known on team radio and the frustrations showed, too, after he ran wide at Turn 12. However, he was able to sneak back into the points this time due to Stoffel Vandoorne’s untimely DNF. There was also a pretty neat move on Alonso in the early stages after he was caught napping at the end of the first VSC.  7

Brendon Hartley:After his first points finish in what feels like an eternity for Hartley in Germany, the good vibes continued in Hungary, well, to start with as he made it into Q3 for the first time in his Formula 1 career.

Starting P8, the question facing him was could he match his team-mate Gasly and keep his Toro Rosso car in the points? The answer? No.

He covered Hulkenberg’s first stop on lap 24 and began to pull away from the Renault driver, but he was one of the many drivers who were held up by Ocon and he lost out as a result. 6

Nico Hulkenberg: Hulkenberg seemed a little down in the dumps this weekend as he is resigned to the fact that none of the big three teams want him in their line-up. A fuel pump failure in qualifying won’t have done anything for his gloomy outlook, especially after seeing his team-mate starting in the lofty heights of P5.

For the Hulkster, starting down in P13, it was all about trying to get back in his rightful place at the top of the midfield battle in Hungary but a bit of a cock-up with race strategy ensured points were much off the table.

It appeared Hulkenberg would run the mediums until the end of the race, but a puzzling second stop under the VSC for fresh ultrasofts put him way, way out of points contention. 5.5

Esteban Ocon: With Force India and Mercedes both not standing in Ocon’s way of a move to Renault next season, there is a growing sense that this is the start of the farewell tour for the Frenchman with the pink panthers.

It did not get off to the best of starts as he was kicked out of Q1 for a second consecutive race weekend due to a brake failure and left him with another afternoon of trying to haul the VJM11 back into the points places, similar to Germany.

But, on a track which doesn’t favour Force India in the slightest, the only way Ocon could get involved in the action is by playing a holding role in the midfield battle as he desperately waited for a Safety Car to appear whilst on his mammoth opening stint on the soft tyres. When that did not happen and he pitted, he soon fell away and down to a rather dreary P13. 5

Sergio Perez: I've done this to save the team

Sergio Perez: It has been more about what Perez has done off the track rather than on it in Hungary as he and his management helped instigate putting a cash-strapped Force India into administration. He came under some heavy criticism from some quarters but he insists that he has done it for the good of the team and is “heartbroken” that he has had to do it.

His worst qualifying and his worst starting grid of the 2018 season would have done nothing to lift spirits, and neither would a race running near the back markers and behind his team-mate Ocon, who he felt he was quicker than during the second half of the race. He asked for team orders but none were forthcoming. 5

Marcus Ericsson:Given Ericsson’s strong financial links to Sauber, you do wonder just how under threat his seat actually is at the Swiss team. He is certainly showing signs that he is driving like his future depends on it, though, after he got himself into Q2 for the third time in four races.

However, that was where the positives end for Ericsson who clattered into Ricciardo’s front left wheel at Turn 1 and then proceeded to do a whopping 60+ laps on the medium tyres. Sounds impressive but it did not actually get him anywhere of note. 5.5

Sergey Sirotkin:It emerged over the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend that Sirotkin has gifted gold bracelets to all his mechanics, but the better gift of some World Championship points looks as far away as ever.

The Russian was very slow in tough qualifying conditions, eight tenths slower than his team-mate who initially propped him up on the starting grid. It continued to be business as usual for Sirotkin and Williams, basically racing each other at the very back of the field. 5

Lance Stroll:The Canadian was forced to start from the pit lane for a second time in three races after his crash in Q2 left him reverting to a old front wing, which was changed under parc ferme conditions and thus undid all his good work in getting out of Q1 in the first place.

Stroll was the only driver to start the race on the slowest tyre compound of them all, mediums, and quickly narrowed the gap to his team-mate. However, he could not find a way past him. 5

Did not finish

Stoffel Vandoorne: The Belgian provided another one of the hard luck stories in Hungary, just as he was on course to pick up his first points of the season since round four in Baku. Good pace and a even better race strategy helped Vandoorne to keep on the tail of Fernando Alonso and climb firmly into the top 10.

But then, on lap 51, the gearbox gave up on him and he had no option but to pull up and retire from the race. Have to feel sorry for him on this occasion.

It is crunch time for Vandoorne at McLaren, who have told him he needs to start beating Fernando Alonso as they begin to formalise their plans for 2019. He at least showed some signs that he is capable of perhaps doing that in the second half of the season. 7.5

Max Verstappen:“What a f*cking joke all the f*cking time with this sh*t, honestly!” We couldn’t put it any better ourselves, Max.

It has been a weekend to forget for Verstappen on a track where he should have been a major factor both during a wet qualifying and a dry race on a narrow, twisty circuit. But Verstappen could only manage a lowly P7 in qualifying and a great start off the line – moving up to P5 by the second corner of the race – was quickly diminished by yet another Renault engine-related DNF.

A crying shame just as he was beginning to show signs of life in Budapest. 6

Listen: Verstappen’s uncensored radio message after DNF

Charles Leclerc: The Ferrari prodigy has not been able to reach the same heights in recent weeks which put him firmly on the radar for a potential drive for the Scuderia in 2019. He was knocked out in Q1 for the first time since China and suffered his second retirement in three races with a mechanical issue on the very first lap.

His growing reputation is still firmly intact, though, as he heads into the summer break where his exciting future is set to be decided. 5

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