Hungarian GP 2018: Both Ferrari aces on the podium

The last round before the summer break took place in the scorching heat of Budapest, Hungary. However, conditions in the qualifying were quite challenging. In Q1, the track was partly dry and partly damp, but at the end of the first session everyone headed out on the slicks already. Q2 was all about making the right tyre call. Ferrari made a genius move by sending Sebastian out on the intermediate Pirellis, whilst everyone else opted for the ultra-softs. The first two sectors were almost dry, but it was soaking-wet in the last sector, where it was raining heavily. All drivers on slicks had to pit for intermediates. As the conditions kept worsening towards the end of the session, Sebastian had set an unbeatable time at the very beginning of the session. Conditions were so slippery that driving was like tip-toeing around the corners. Kimi had a scary moment, as he lost control of his SF71-H and spun, but, luckily, the Iceman managed to keep his Ferrari off the walls. Q3 was heavily hampered by rain and full-wets were the right tyre call. Kimi really shone in the tricky conditions; especially the Finn's third sector was absolutely magical. When there were only four minutes remaining in the clock, pole position was firmly in Kimi's grasp. However, in the dying moments of the qualifying it was Hamilton who rose to the occasion and took pole away from his teammate Bottas who in turn had snatched it from Kimi! Mercedes' front row lockout. It was a bit of a surprise, as the Silver Arrows had been struggling with balance in dry conditions. Kimi had set an excellent time in sector one on his final run on the fresh full-wets but had hit traffic, which prevented the Iceman from improving his lap time. Sebastian was left 4th this time, which was his worst on-track performance of this season. Against all odds, Red Bull had it difficult in the mixed conditions. Ricciardo had been the big name casualty in Q2, and Verstappen wasn't able to make it higher than P7.

When the race day came, it was blue skies and scorching temperatures. There was an emotional one-minute silence before the start. The F1 community paid its respects to the late CEO of Ferrari Sergio Marchionne who had passed away on July 25th at the age of 66. Due to the wet qualifying, teams were free to choose their tyres for the race start. All top ten drivers opted for the purple-walled ultra-soft compound, except Sebastian in P4 and Renault's Sainz in P5, who were on the yellow-marked middle compound. The start was quite smooth this time. Pole-sitter Hamilton held on to his lead, with teammate Bottas second. Sebastian made it in the outside of Kimi, going into Turn 2, and passed the Iceman, claiming P3. Red Bull's Ricciardo, who had started to the race from tame P12, had an opening-lap incident with Sauber's Ericsson, which made the Australian drop down to P16.

Hamilton was self-confidently pulling away from his teammate, and the gap was soon three seconds already. Red Bull's reliability issues continued, as Verstappen, who had fought his way up to P5 already, suddenly lost all power and had to stop his RB14 on the track. Ferrari called Kimi in on lap 15 for a fresh set of soft Pirellis. Unfortunately, there was a small delay in terms of Kimi's pit stop, as the team had to remove rubber from the cooling system of his SF71-H. Kimi re-joined the track in P6. Ferrari's strategy made Mercedes react as well, and Bottas was called in on the following lap. Bottas opted for a similar tyre choice to his compatriot Kimi. Kimi's pace on the fresh softs was superb, and the Iceman showed that overtaking is possible also at Hungaroring. Kimi made it past both Haas' Magnussen and Toro Rosso's Gasly, making his way up to P4.

After Hamilton's pit stop Sebastian was leading the race. The German's pace was still excellent on his worn softs. Hamilton had re-joined the track in P2, 13 seconds down on Sebastian. Kimi pitted for the second time already on lap 39, for another set of softs. Sebastian was hitting traffic, so the team called him in. Sebastian switched to the ultra-soft compound. Unfortunately, there was a small issue with his front-left tyre, which made him lose a position to Bottas when re-joining the track.

With 15 laps to go, Bottas, who was on a one-stop strategy, was in serious trouble with his out-worn tyres. Sebastian had already made it within DRS distance from the Finn. Kimi had also chased down the duo of Bottas and Sebastian. The Ferrari aces were clearly faster than Bottas, but overtaking was a challenge at Hungaroring. The tension intensified lap by lap. Five laps before the chequered flag, Sebastian braked as late as he could and made his move in Turn 1, making it past Bottas! He was clearly ahead of the Finn, going into Turn 2, but Bottas ended up hitting Sebastian's SF71-H! Luckily Sebastian got away from the collision without any damage to his car, but Bottas' front wing got major damage. However, Bottas couldn't afford to pit for a new front wing, so he had no choice but to stay out.

In no time Bottas was in trouble with Ricciardo, who was right at the Finn's tail. Bottas was desperate to defend his position with his dying tyres and severely damaged front wing. Usually Bottas hasn't been the driver to cause drama, but this time the Finn made a mistake. Valtteri was way too optimistic about the braking point going into Turn 1 and he ended up hitting Red Bull's Ricciardo, who was attacking the vulnerable Finn! Due to the collision Ricciardo got damage to his RB14 as well. The Australian passed Bottas on the penultimate lap. The stewards took the incident into investigation, and Bottas was handed a 10-second time penalty after the race, but it didn't affect the race result in the end. Hamilton was the dominant race winner, but, to my delight, Sebastian and Kimi completed the podium! Ricciardo claimed P4, and the struggling Bottas had to settle for P5.

Now it's time for the 4-week summer break. It has been an amazing F1 summer with five races in just six weeks! And unbelievably Kimi has stood on the podium in four of them! Sebastian will go on a holiday with 24 points less than title rival Hamilton. Kimi, on the other hand, is 43 points down on his teammate in the drivers' championship standings. Mercedes now has a 10-point lead in the constructors' standings. I hope Sebastian, Kimi and the whole Red Team will have a relaxing summer holiday, and that they will come to Spa with their batteries fully charged! Forza Ferrari!

With passion for racing red, 
Iina Huhmarniemi

Aug 01, 2018