Updated: Feb 28
Written by: Hafiz Akbar, Edited by: Daniel Yi
Formula One returned to the Hungaroring this past weekend. Having hosted the Hungarian Grand Prix for 39 times, this legendary circuit has been said to be a tough place to overtake, and it has bore witness to some of the best overtakes the sport have ever seen.
The grid lined up with Lewis Hamilton on pole and teammate Valtteri Bottas alongside him. They were followed by the provisional leader of the championship table, Max Verstappen. Sergio Perez lined up alongside the Dutchman in P4.
In a slightly wet Hungaroring, it’s lights out and away we go. Hamilton got off the line best as Bottas tried to hold off Norris from coming up at his right side. Verstappen went for Hamilton and overtook Bottas coming into turn 1. Bottas locked up and rear-ended Norris. Chaos ensued! Norris ended up in a hefty bump with Verstappen and the Dutchman was sent off the track with his right bargeboard completely destroyed, ending his podium chase. Norris, on the other hand, had to retire the car since the damage sustained to his floor was too extensive. After the lock up and rear-end collision with Norris, Bottas clattered into Perez and sent both of them off the track into an eventual DNF. Meanwhile, Stroll lost control of his car and crashed in to Leclerc, taking both of them out of the race. The race was then red-flagged with Hamilton in the lead.
Aftermath of the opening lap collision
After around 15 minutes of clean up, the drivers went out on a formation lap once again but all of them except for Hamilton dived into the pitlane just before the lap was completed. Meanwhile, Hamilton stayed out by himself and continued on the intermediate set of tyres when the others switched to medium slicks. George Russell even managed to snatch a few places in the pitlane.
The restart went very quiet indeed for Hamilton as he stood by himself on the grid, while the others lined up in the pit lane. He went on a full-on hammer time to create some time for a pitstop later that lap. As Hamilton pitted at the end of the lap, Esteban Ocon took over the lead, with teammate and former World Champion, Fernando Alonso right behind the young Frenchman.
Antonio Giovinazzi was then slapped with a 10 second stop and go penalty for speeding in the pitlane.
Lewis Hamilton had a lot of trouble with his brakes overheating and saying, “There’s no grip out here.” Meanwhile, Max Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel with Mick Schumacher as the Dutchman went round the outside to overtake the German.
More bad news for Alfa Romeo as Kimi Raikkonen was then given a 10 second time penalty for an unsafe release, which resulted in the Haas of Nikita Mazepin being eliminated from the race.
More trouble brewed for the reigning champion as he had difficulties going through the sea of cars in front of him. At this point in the race, he was at P14, last on the running grid. But with a clever strategy, the Mercedes crew went for the undercut on Verstappen and succeeded. Hamilton managed to go out just in front of Daniel Ricciardo, who was holding off Verstappen.
As Alonso pitted for a set of hard tyres, the Alpine pit wall instructed Ocon, “Maximum push.” This proved fruitful as Ocon pitted the next lap with a sublime sub-2.5 second pit stop, with the pit wall instructing him, “Out lap is critical.”
Hamilton then had more problems with his tyres on lap 39 as he radioed in, expressing his dissent with his tyres. This proved true as Hamilton added, further in the race, on lap 43, “Rears are f***ed.” Five laps later, he pitted for mediums as he continued his quest to overtake Alonso up the road.
His battle with Alonso became one of the most entertaining highlights of the race, with the world champions having moves left, right and centre, going way back to the time when Hamilton just started out in McLaren. Eventually, Hamilton made it out of the shadow of Alonso and went for the kill on Carlos Sainz just ahead.
Alpine mechanics celebrating as Ocon crosses the finish line
After an interesting battle and a changing lead, Esteban Ocon, out of all the drivers, won the Formula One Rolex Magyar Nagydíj, with Sebastian Vettel trailing just a second behind the winner and Lewis Hamilton coming in third.
Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon celebrating his maiden win
As of post-race, Mercedes restored their lead of the standings by 10 points and Lewis Hamilton regained his championship lead over Verstappen by just 6 points.
This race had everything. Massive pile-ups resulting in DNF’s, feisty battles between old teammates, and an unexpected race winner (since all of our predictions fell a bit short) to add to that.