Hungarian GP 2017: Sebastian and Kimi makes it a 1-2 for Ferrari after perfect qualifying!

Round 11 brought the pinnacle of motorsport to sunny and hot Budapest. The low-speed Hungaroring was expected to suit Ferrari better than the title rivals Mercedes. Qualifying proved that prediction right. After a few not-so-successful races, Sebastian became absolutely alive on Hungarian soil. The German was absolutely untouchable in the qualifying. At the beginning of the Q3, he set a blistering lap time – outright a new lap record for the Hungaroring! Closest rival Bottas was over three tenths down after his first run. Hamilton, who had been targeting a record-equalling 68th career pole, abandoned his first attempt after sliding off the road at the Turn 4. He managed to improve his lap time on his second run, but, nevertheless, the Briton was only able to make it P3. Kimi in the other Ferrari was absolutely flying on his last run; if not for a small mistake in the middle sector, the Iceman would probably have challenged his teammate for pole. This was the Italian team’s third front row lockout of the season. Bottas was the quicker of the Silver Arrows drivers, lapping two tenths slower than Sebastian. Hamilton, who had complained about vibration in terms of the tyres, had to settle for P4. The Red Bull teammates Verstappen and Ricciardo locked down the third row. Verstappen occasionally showed excellent pace, but Red Bull was never quite in the mix for pole.

The race day turned out to be the hottest day of the GP weekend, with temperature reaching around 30 degrees Celsius. Once again, there was drama at the start. Sebastian got a superb start and held on to the lead, with teammate Kimi right behind him. Verstappen, starting from P5, got an amazing start and made his way past both Mercedes drivers. Ricciardo, too, managed to get past Hamilton, whose start had been everything but perfect. Turn 2 was a turning point in the Red Bull teammates’ race. Max had gone a bit wide in Turn 1, which allowed Ricciardo to try an overtaking move on his teammate going into Turn 2. Ricciardo was already slightly ahead of Max, but the stubborn Dutchman was going to defend his position by any means necessary. He braked way too late, which caused a lock-up. Max ended up crashing into the sister Red Bull of Ricciardo, causing terminal damage to the Australian’s RB13. Ricciardo was out of the race. Safety car was deployed, as Ricciardo’s Red Bull had stopped on the track. Verstappen was given a 10-second time penalty for causing the collision.

After the re-start, the Ferrari duo’s pace seemed dominant. Mercedes had difficulties to match the red team’s pace. However, dark clouds started to gather upon Sebastian soon after the re-start. Sebastian had problems with the steering of his SF70-H, and the steering issues started to affect his pace. The issue seemed to get worse as the race evolved. Sebastian was told on the team radio to avoid kerbing, which made his driving quite challenging.

After the pit stops, the Silver Arrows seemed to come alive on the yellow-marked soft rubber. Their lap times were excellent, and soon it was obvious that they were seriously threatening Ferrari’s double lead. With almost 30 laps to go, the top four - Sebastian, Kimi, Bottas and Hamilton - were all within five seconds. Sebastian’s pace in the lead was so slow that Kimi asked on the team radio whether his teammate was driving on full throttle.

Hamilton seemed to be faster than his teammate Bottas, and the Briton asked on the team radio to get past the Finn. If Hamilton turned out to be unable to challenge the Ferraris, he would give the position back to Valtteri. Valtteri proved to be a true team player and let his teammate through. No way this would have happened last year with Rosberg in the team!  Kimi was clearly having more pace than Sebastian in the lead. The Iceman kept questioning on the team radio whether this was the right strategy from the team, as Hamilton started to put serious pressure on the Iceman. But we saw no team orders for Ferrari; Sebastian really needed the victory to extend his lead in the drivers’ championship standings!

Towards the end of the race there was a thrilling and intense battle between Sebastian, Kimi and Hamilton, as they were all within DRS distance from each other. Luckily, overtaking at Hungaroring turned out to be a mission impossible! Verstappen had also closed the gap to Bottas, but not even the flying Dutchman was able to make an overtaking move this time. There were about five seconds separating the Mercedes teammates when starting the final lap, plus Verstappen was right at Bottas’ tail. That made me feel very sceptical about Hamilton’s intention to give the position back to Valtteri. But, against all odds, in the final sector of the penultimate lap, Hamilton intentionally slowed down and let Bottas through. This was a very sportsmanlike move from the triple world champion. So, it was a glorious 1-2 for Ferrari, and Valtteri made it with two Finns on the podium. Hungaroring has always been a great place for Kimi, who had his eighth time on the Budapest podium! No wonder the Iceman was voted as the Driver of the Day. It was very well deserved!

I was so happy to see such a dominant Ferrari in Hungary. Both Sebastian and Kimi brought me over the moon with their phenomenal 1-2! Thanks to Sebastian’s victory, the margin to Hamilton is now 14 points in terms of the championship standings. This was the perfect way to start the summer break of four weeks. Hope Sebastian and Kimi have an awesome summer holiday!

With passion for racing red, 

Iina Huhmarniemi

P.S. As a Finn I can’t help noting a fact concerning team spirit and harmony inside the team; where there’s a Finn as a teammate, there’s harmony and constructive co-operation in the team!

Aug 02, 2017