Hungarian GP 2016: Räikkönen and Verstappen in a wheel-banging battle!

Hungarian GP 2016

Against all odds, qualifying was weather-affected at Hungaroring. The first 18-minute segment was delayed twice by 10 minutes due to heavy rain; including the four red-flag stoppages, Q1 ended up lasting for over an hour. Sauber’s Ericsson, Williams’ Massa and Manor’s Haryanto were all casualties of the slippery conditions. However, after the rain had stopped, the track started to dry out surprisingly fast. As soon as at the end of Q2 everyone had switched to the supersoft slicks.

As the track improved with every lap, the times, too, improved faster than you could write them down. Unbelievable but true, Kimi was topping the timesheets at the very end of the second segment, but as soon as everyone had finished their final runs, Kimi had dropped down to disappointing P14! It had been all about the timing, and this time it just didn’t work out for the Iceman... I was so gutted for Kimi, as the pace was definitely there!

Hungarian GP 2016

Hamilton took provisional pole in Q3; the Briton had also set the fastest time in sector 1 on his final run, coming across Alonso’s spun McLaren at the top of the hill. By the time teammate Rosberg got there, the yellows were cleared and, in spite of the traffic, Nico was able to make it on pole! Due to the yellow flags Red Bull’s Ricciardo was unable to improve his lap time, and the Australian had to settle for P3, teammate Verstappen alongside him in P4. Unfortunately, Sebastian wasn’t able to challenge nor Mercedes or Red Bull in terms of one-lap pace, and the German Ferrari ace was left in P5 - 9-tenths down on pole-setter Rosberg.

 Hungarian GP 2016

Due to the challenging 14th grid slot, Kimi opted for a fresh set of yellow-marked soft Pirellis, whereas the top ten started the race on the red-marked supersoft compound; all top five drivers got an excellent start. There was a hair-raising moment going into Turn 1: Rosberg having Red Bull’s Ricciardo on the outside and teammate Hamilton on the inside. Hamilton ended up having the upper hand on his rivals and took the lead. The situation remained unchanged otherwise: Ricciardo was third, teammate Verstappen fourth and Sebastian fifth. Right after the start Kimi began to make his way through the field with great determination. By lap 11 the storming Iceman had already jumped to 8th.

Hungarian GP 2016

McLaren’s Button had a serious issue with his brakes as soon as on the opening laps. It seemed like a probable safety issue, and the team gave its driver advice over the team radio how to deal with the problem. However, that was considered to be an unauthorised team radio communication, and Button was handed a drive-through penalty for this infringement. I wasn’t surprised to hear Button questioning the new team radio rules! The rules have become so complicated and contradictory that it’s almost ridiculous. If the team is allowed to warn the driver of a safety issue -like puncture, isn’t a brake failure an issue of similar kind? Safety should always come first in Formula 1!

The top five drivers shared a similar tyre strategy - they all pitted for a fresh set of soft rubber. Kimi, on the other hand, continued on the track, as he had started to the race on the soft rubber. Red Bull’s Verstappen rejoined the track right behind Kimi after his pit stop. The flying Dutchman seemed extremely eager and impatient to get past the Iceman, but there was no passing the Finn! Kimi’s pace was extremely good, and he seemed absolutely determined to make it a points finish. The Finnish Ferrari ace didn’t pit until lap 30 for a fresh set of supersoft tyres. After his pit stop the Iceman was almost flying around the track; he kept banging fastest lap times and was almost two seconds per lap quicker than the Dutch teenager of Red Bull. The Iceman was unmistakeably on flames at Hungaroring!

Kimi´s tyre strategy differed from the one of the top five in terms of the second pit stop, too. The top five opted for another set of soft Pirellis, whereas Kimi chose to have another set of supersoft compound. After the second pit stop, Kimi rapidly chased down Verstappen, who was in P5; that was a start of an entertaining, thrilling and hair-raising battle between these two passionate drivers. It was all about youth against experience. Kimi seemed passionate to get past the Dutchman, whereas Max, on the other hand, did everything to defend his position.

Hungarian GP 2016

There was a moment on lap 57 that made my heart skip a beat - Kimi decided to make an overtaking move on Verstappen, but the Dutchman wasn’t going to let it happen. It’s still a bit unclear for me whether Max changed his line once or twice, but it’s certainly reasonable to say that Max ended up on "the grey area", if nothing more. Kimi ended up damaging the end plate of his front wing, but, luckily, it had no significant influence on the aerodynamics of his SF16-H. It is my opinion that without Kimi´s impressive experience and ice-cold common sense the incident could have turned into a race-ending collision. Once the race was over, there were a lot of judging comments on Twitter on Verstappen’s driving, but I have to say that I disagree - I admit that the Dutchman entered the "grey area" in terms of his defending moves, but it’s still cool to see the drivers giving it all and fighting with true racing spirit!

Hungarian GP 2016

Kimi stayed at Verstappen’s tail untill the chequered flag, but overtaking was simply mission impossible. Rosberg, too, was almost within DRS distance from his teammate, but there was no real fight for the victory, which was taken by the Briton. Rícciardo and Sebastian had a battle of their own for P3, but, unfortunately, the Australian had the upper hand and completed the podium. P4 was still a strong race for Sebastian. However, there was really something extraordinary about Kimi’s driving at Hungaroring, and turning P14 into P6 was a staggering achievement! That’s why I also voted Kimi as the driver of the day!

As of now, Hamilton has officially taken over in the drivers’ championship standings, and is 6 points ahead of his teammate. Rosberg is now the underdog in terms of the championship battle. Things are tight between Ferrari and Red Bull in the constructors’ standings as well; Ferrari is now only one point ahead of the Austrian team! Luckily the next round will be already next weekend at Hockenheim. Forza Ferrari!

 

With passion for racing red, 
Iina Huhmarniemi

Aug 02, 2016
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