Sebastian’s hopes of a first Hungarian victory were all but dashed when he emerged from the pit lane only to find the red rear wing of Jenson Button appear before him. If his day wasn’t looking great at that point, it must’ve been painful for the very same circumstance to happen again at the next set of pit stops. Though he couldn’t pass Kimi Raikkonen in the final stages of the race, Vettel still increased his Championship lead over his closest rival and took one step closer to securing his fourth World Championship in a row. It wasn’t a spectacular performance by Vettel, but it was enough to continue his front-running streak. Team-mate Webber was compromised in qualifying with a a gear-shifting issue and a KERS failure, but was able to recover to fourth at a venue reknowned for its limited overtaking opportunities. One shy of the podium was about as good as the Australian could manage and to come home only a place behind Vettel after starting eight behind won’t have done his confidence any damage. As we’ve seen so many times this year, Vettel came home ahead and snatches the point.
Ferrari look to have lost their mojo at the moment. After having put themselves in a solid position to challenge for the World Championship earlier this year, the last few races have left them looking half-rate. Alonso was disappointed with qualifying fifth, though being only three tenths shy of his main championship rival in qualifying is a lot better than many others managed. Fernando delivered exactly what was expected of Ferrari: slower than Hamilton, Raikkonen, Vettel and Webber and faster than Button, Massa, Perez and co. The Spaniard was fortunate Grosjean was penalised for his illegal overtake of Felipe Massa, otherwise he may have found himself sixth by the end of the race. Massa was ordinary all race. After first-lap contact with Rosberg, the Brazilian once again looked a league below his team-mate and coasted home some 25 seconds behind. The Brazilian’s season isn’t going well at all and without a contract for 2014 he should be fearful of a number of younger drivers below him that are all too happy to take his spot next year.
At a track historically strong for McLaren, Button did as best he could to interfere with the race victory. Though not a participant of the eventual first-place struggle himself, Button was able to extract enough pace to irritate his faster rivals and did well to take the chequered flag in seventh. It was a defensive driving masterclass from the 2009 World Champion, but he’ll want the team to come back from the summer break with a lot more than they went into it with. Perez just wasn’t able to keep up with his team-mate at the Hungaroring and, despite getting the best of his team-mate on Saturday, finished well behind Jenson. The Mexican driver went into 2013 with such great hope of establishing himself as a future championship contender, but he’ll need to do a lot better in the next ten races if he wishes to claw back the 21-point defecit he has to his team-mate.
Grosjean had every opportunity to get one up on his team-mate at the Hungaroring. He qualified ahead and looked to have the pace to challenge for the victory on Sunday. But like Vettel he was caught up in the lengthy battle to pass Jenson Button’s surprisingly wide MP4-28. Making contact with Button at the chicane did his race no favours, but a controversial penalty following his momentary departure from the race track ultimately resigned him to sixth place and 42 seconds behind Raikkonen. Kimi did well to push his two-stop strategy to its maximum and was rewarded with second place after a tense handful of laps in the dying stages of the race. One has to wonder if Grosjean would’ve been able to put on a better show than his team-mate if the two major incidents hadn’t occurred. But fate is fate and the Frenchman has four weeks to put in a performance worthy of a championship-hopeful team.
Lewis wasn’t the favourite for the race victory but did everything he needed to do in order to take his first victory at the team. After a strong getaway, the Brit controlled the race for most of the event. Had he struggled like Vettel to pass Jenson when he exited the pits, Lewis’s race may not have been so straight-forward. Unfortunately for Nico, contact with Massa on the opening lap lead to more mysery as his pace dropped and he eventually exited the race with a flaming engine. It’s not often we see fire these days, but a tight track with a short straight and an exceptionally hot race opens up the opportunity for such events to arise. Nico is no longer the only race winner for Mercedes since 1955 and will need to act swiftly if he wishes to stop Hamilton gaining the crucial momentum to carry him into Brazil and further.
Hulkenberg did just about what could have been expected of him, though it wasn’t enough for points. 12th in qualifying was nothing to be disappointed about for the struggling Swiss outfit, especially as he was five places ahead of Guiterrez. At any previous race Hulkenberg’s place would’ve rewarded him with a point, but the top-1o return for Williams nullified Nico’s best attempts. The German is an open agent for 2014 now and is allowed to leave his current team at any moment he desires. The only problem is that there aren’t many (if any) seats ahead of him likely to be opening their doors to a current driver in the next few months. Red Bull looks to be a case of Ricciardo v Raikkonen and the rest of the field looks fairly content with their future lineups. Could Hulkenberg replace Massa? Perhaps, though the Italian team may not be keen on signing somebody they’ve so little experience with.
After a shocking qualifying session, di Resta made up for everything with what was by all accounts an amazing start. Though Sutil started eight positions ahead of him, Paul was right on his gearbox by the end of the first lap. Despite the best efforts of both drivers, Force India suffered one of its bogey weekens and had to park both vehicles before the 70 laps were over. Neither driver was given the opportunity or machinery to shine, but di Resta’s recovery wins out every time.
Pastor was the one to deliver Williams their first points of 2013. They had to do it eventually, didn’t they? A solitary point at the half-way point in the season isn’t going to make any of the management too happy, but the mechanics won’t be displeased with Maldonado’s haul. The Williams looked much stronger at Hungary and the pair were disappointed to have only been able to manage 15th and 16th in qualifying. Despite starting on the back foot, Williams capitalised on the retirements of those in front to statch a result from Sauber. They shouldn’t have concerns of being beaten by Marussia or Caterham this year, but a single point isn’t going to let anybody sleep easy. The teams is going to have to work hard in the two weeks they’re allowed to be at the factory during the summer break and will be looking into the hydraulics isue that prematurely ended Bottas’s race. But they’re on the right track. Some good updates and surprise results and who knows – they’re only 23 points behind Toro Rosso.
This was a hard one to give. Ricciardo took a big chunk out of Vergne in qualifying, but was compromised by Toro Rosso when they tried to run him on tyres well past their use-by date. The resultant was an extended period on a set of tyres that were (and this is no exaggeration) five seconds a lap slower than his team-mate’s. This went on for three laps and cost Ricciardo any chance of nabbing a point in Hungary. It’s not the first time the team has made a fool of themselves in the strategy sector and Ricciardo will be hoping Red Bull take that into consideration when reviewing their lineup for 2014. Vergne was the main benefactor from the mess up and jumped a place ahead of his team-mate as a result. Neither driver will be happy with the result, but Vergne will be slightly less unhappy.
Giedo came to life on Sunday and despite qualifying three tenths behind his team-mate on Saturday, he finished ahead of him on Sunday. It was yet another race where the Caterham drivers were stuck in pergatory – much faster than the Marussias but much slower than the team in front. As has been the case for the last few years, Caterham will need a freak result if they have any intention of scoring points in 2013. At the moment they’re behind Marussia in the standings and won’t be happy about needing to better 13th in order to jump their closest rival. The team did well to bring both cars home in Hungary, but nobody at Caterham HQ will be pleased with finishing two laps down.
The only time a Marussia driver is able to impress is in qualifying. The car isn’t fast enough to show anything in the race. And once again it was Bianchi who came out on top on Saturday. Unsurprisingly, he did the same on Sunday too. Like Caterham, you must expect Marussia have written off 2013 in the hope of finding something special with the new 2014 regulations. Can they pull a surprise for next year? Yes. Will they? Probably not.