Sunday, 27 July 2014

Ricciardo wins as chaos reigns in Hungary

(Florent Gooden DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

Infiniti Red Bull Racing's Daniel Ricciardo took a sensational victory in today's Hungarian Grand Prix after an absolutely incredible race. The start of the Grand Prix was extremely wet with all driver's starting on the Pirelli Green marked Intermediate tyre's. Following the race the Australian commented:

'Winning this today, it honestly feels as good as the first. It sank in a lot quicker this one, so crossing the line today I knew what was going on a bit more and it’s like I could enjoy it immediately rather than it being delayed, it was awesome. 

To have to pass guys again to win the race, as I did in Canada, makes it a lot more satisfying, knowing that we did have a bit of a fight on our hands – you beauty! In this environment now I feel, I am a different driver and in a way a different person, a different sportsman than I was last year. I’ve got a lot more belief in myself and it’s cool, I definitely feel like I belong here now and I’ve got confidence; obviously we’ve converted two races into wins this year so far and I think that confidence is showing. I’ve got some friends from Australia here this weekend, so the plan was to always have a few drinks tonight, so I think we’ve got an excuse to now!'

He finished the race just ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso who collected Ferrari's second podium finish of the season. The drive of the day had to go to Mercedes Lewis Hamilton who started the race from the pit-lane and drove an absolutely incredible race to finish just ahead of Mercedes team mate and championship leader Nico Rosberg. Hamilton commented by saying:

'It is a great result today; I was just pushing as hard as possible to get as high as I could. It was obviously damage limitation after what happened yesterday. I can’t express the pain I feel when we have issues such as in the last couple of races; it’s hard to swallow and difficult to come back the next day and get the right balance between not attacking too much, but pushing to the limit. 

The two safety car periods helped quite a lot, but naturally I looked fast and had the pace this weekend, so there was an opportunity for more points. I was in the same race as Nico and if I let him past and he had the opportunity to pull away, then he would have come back and overtaken me. I didn’t understand why the team asked me to do that as he didn´t get close enough to overtake and I didn´t want to lift off and lose ground to Fernando. I would like to say a big congratulations to Daniel and Fernando. It was close at the end and it was getting very hard to keep Nico behind as he was catching at close to 3 seconds a lap. Coming back through shows how great this car and team is, and this result is much more satisfying than an easy win. Going into the break, I’m still in the fight for the championship, which is very satisfying.'

Nico Rosberg commented on the race by saying:

'That was a disappointing afternoon. A few things didn’t work out for me and it was a very up and down race. In the beginning it was all under control. Unfortunately the safety car cost me the lead, because I just missed the pit entry and then I couldn’t pit. I also had some braking issues after the safety car went in and a difficult period of time with handling this, which cost me some positions. Then I was able to push a lot. I had a great last stint and at the end there was one chance to overtake Lewis in the last lap, but it didn’t work out. So that is massively disappointing. We need to sit down and analyse internally what went wrong today. I’m still leading the championship, which is a positive thing, and I’ll be ready to attack again after the summer break.'

Mercedes Motorsport boss Toto Wolff commented saying:

'The conditions today made the race very difficult. The safety car periods worked out better for some and worse for others. If you look at the leading three cars before the safety car period, they ended up in fourth, seventh and eighth – and that was what really cost Nico, when he was held by the Safety Car and couldn’t get back to the pits. The result for us was also down to some brilliant driving from Lewis and Nico. To finish third and fourth on a circuit that’s very difficult to overtake on is probably the best we could have done today, given the challenges that were thrown our way. Again we had reliability issues on Lewis’ car and we had some very difficult decisions to make in the race. Obviously, we need to sit down, discuss and analyse the moment when Lewis was asked to let Nico pass – but, like always, we will do this calmly and work our way through any confusion or misunderstanding. There were so many things influencing the decisions we made and we must still determine whether we were right or not. We are not satisfied with third and fourth today, so we will look at everything and try to improve for the next race.'

Mercedes Executive Director (Technical) Paddy Lowe commented:

'It was a difficult afternoon; but it was never going to be easy with one car starting from the pit-lane. On the other side of the garage we were well lined up with a good car and good pace. We opened up a healthy lead from the start in tricky conditions until the race was overturned by a safety car. 

For reasons we don’t yet understand, the safety car split the pack and Nico got stuck behind it because he had been unable to pit before it was called out. We put Nico on a three-stop strategy and Lewis on a two-stop. This caused an interaction which we explained as best we could to each driver. In the event, neither strategy was capable of recovering the win given the impact of the safety car periods. We had a few issues with brake management on both cars and a fuel pressure issue on Lewis’ car that we will look into more closely. The problems didn’t have a significant effect on performance and at the end of the day, third and fourth was probably the best we could do in the circumstances. As we start ‘half-term’ it’s a good point to say well done to both drivers and the team for all that has been achieved this year, and we wish everybody, including the fans, happy holidays.'

Felipe Massa did a great job for the Williams Martini Racing Team as the Brazilian finished the race in 6th place for the Grove based outfit just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari who did a fantastic job to come through the field after starting the race from 16th place following a team error in qualifying yesterday to finish the race in 6th place.

The Finn finished the race just ahead of reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel in the RB10. 

Vettel finished the race just ahead of the Williams Martini Racing car of Valtteri Bottas. As a result of their fantastic result today Ferrari have moved ahead of the Grove based outfit in the Constructors championship.Speaking after the race Vetel said:

'It wasn’t a great race. I spun, which was my mistake, and before that I was unlucky with the safety car in the first stint. The timing meant the first four cars lost positions to those running behind. Unfortunately we were then in the wrong mode for the restart and I lost two positions. It’s good for Daniel that he won today, I’m happy for him.' 

Infiniti Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner was delighted with Ricciardo's performance saying:

'A fantastic grand prix and the performance by Daniel today was truly sensational. Starting in wet conditions, he benefitted from being a little bit further back and being able to get in for slick tyres at the first safety car and then really managed to make his strategy work on the soft tyres through the next stages of the race. We knew we’d have to make a final stop, which would put us behind Alonso and Hamilton who were trying to get to the end. But he closed the gap down quickly and then, with some fantastic overtaking manoeuvres in the last five laps, pulled off a dramatic victory to achieve the second in his career and our second this season. Sebastian’s afternoon was much more frustrating. 

Unfortunately, after a good start and some good battles, he got the call at the same time as Daniel to pit after the Caterham had an accident, but was too far round the last corner to make it into the pit lane. He then had to stop under the safety car which meant he lost some places. He was making progress but then had the spin and managed to avoid the pit wall, but he flat spotted his tyres and then had a problem at the restart. It was then a question of damage limitation, trying to run the hard tyres to the end of the race and he did a phenomenal job to keep Bottas behind him.'

Jean Eric Vergne did a great job for Toro Rosso as he finished the race in 9th place while Jenson Button rounded out the top ten after the team made the wrong tyre call early in the race.

There were a number of big crashes. Caterham's Marucs Ericsson had a huge crash in turn 4 which resulted in a Safety Car fortunately he was unhurt. It was an extremely disappointing day at the office for the Sahara Force India F1 Team as neither Sergio Perez or Nico Hulkenberg finished the race. Hulkenberg had a huge crash on the main straight which brought out a second safety car fortunately the German walked away unhurt. But the incident would have given the Red Bull Racing pit-wall a big shock as it happened right by their rig. Speaking after the race Hulkenberg said:

'It was not the best day in the office and I’m feeling very disappointed. The track was drying out and I was quite close behind Checo when I made contact with him at the final corner. The previous lap he had taken a much wider line so I tried to overtake on the inside, but he took a tighter line and I couldn’t back out of the move. I made contact with his car, lost my front wing and went straight on into the barrier. It was my mistake and I’ve apologised to the team. It’s especially frustrating because there was a lot of potential in this race, but I guess it was one of those days when things didn’t go our way.'

Team mate Sergio Perez commented saying:

'It's a very disappointing end to our weekend, just when it looked like we could have scored some big points. I went a little wide on the exit kerb of the final corner, lost the rear and that was it – I was in the wall. It was a very unfortunate end to our race and I feel sorry for the team because they deserved some points today. Conditions were very difficult, the track was drying and improving, and it made you want to push to the limit, but there were some wet patches that could catch you out. We'll take the positive elements of this weekend and get back in the points in the next race.'

Team boss Dr Vijay Mallya said:

'It is disappointing to come away from this weekend with nothing, especially as the race was shaping up nicely for us. Both Checo and Nico were on course for a points finish, but it was not our day. Sometimes, this is how motorsport is. But a negative result must not detract from our great first half of the year because this is the first race in 2014 in which we have not scored points. Despite the missed opportunity, we remain in fifth place in the championship. It was also a fantastic race for Formula One with wheel-to-wheel racing and a great show for the fans. We have the summer break now, an occasion to regroup and come back stronger in Belgium and get ready for the final eight races.'

Adrian Sutil was left disappointed as he just missed out on scoring the Sauber F1 Team's first world championship point's of the season. Romain Grosjean was once again left disappointed as he retired fro his second race in a row following his retirement in Germany last weekend. Speaking after the race Adrian Sutil said:

'Finishing in P11 was very close to gaining one point. It was not an easy race, especially at the beginning with the difficult weatherconditions and the two safety car periods. During the first safety car period we made our first pit stop. When I came to the box I had to wait as Esteban had not finished yet. I did loose some time, but I was fighting back. At the end I finished the race in 11th. In the corners I was faster than Jenson (Button), but I could not overtake him as he did not make any mistakes and drove away on the straights. However, it was a positive day as we came closer to the teams in front of us, and this is what counts.'

It was a disappointing race for Esteban Guiterrez as he failed to finish the race in the second Sauber. The Mexican said after the race:

'The race started well, as I could gain positions during the start. I was pushing as much as I could, trying to drive very precisely and consistently. I was able to gain some positions and everything was going in the right direction. During the safety car period I came in for the pit stop, everything was right on target. After the restart, I was fighting with Kimi (Raikkonen) and trying to keep him behind. The pace was good and I was also able to keep up with the drivers in front of me. It was an unfortunate ending, but there are a lot of positives we can take from the weekend.'

Sauber F1 Team principal Monisha Keltenborn commented:

'This was a good performance by the whole team that was unfortunately not rewarded. Esteban was driving strongly, and it’s really frustrating that we had a problem with the Energy Recovery System, which forced him to retire. Adrian also drove strongly, but unfortunately didn’t manage to gain the decisive position on track. The whole team delivered an impeccable performance under very difficult circumstances.'

The team's Head of Track Engineering Giampoalo Dall'Ara said:

'There were two deciding factors in this race for our team. First we lost Esteban due to a failure of the Energy Recovery System. He was running in eighth and could have finished the race in the points. The second key point was that we lost a position on the track, and this car slowed Adrian quite a bit towards the end of the race. During the first safety car period, we made the call to bring both cars in on the same lap, which was not easy to handle, but under the circumstances it was a correct decision. It was positive that we were able to race with quite a lot of competition, but it’s disappointing not to finish in the points.'

Only 16 of the 22 starters finished the race and after challenging for a points finish during the race the Lotus F1 Team's Pastor Maldonado was unfortunate to the finish in 13th place.

Drivers Championship Standings after Round 11

1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG F1 Team 202 Points
2 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG F1 Team 191
3 Daniel Ricciardo Infiniti Red Bull Racing 131
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 115
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams Martini Racing Team 95
6 Sebastian Vettel Infiniti Red Bull Racing 88
7 Nico Hulkenberg Sahara Force India F1 Team 69
8 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes 60
9 Felipe Massa Williams Martini Racing Team 40
10 Kevin Mangnussen McLaren Mercedes 37
11 Sergio Perez Sahara Force India F1 Team 29
12 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 27
13 Jean Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 11
14 Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team 8
15 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 6
16 Jules Bianchi Marussia F1 Team 2

Constructors Championship Standings after Round 11

1 Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team 393 Points
2 Infiniti Red Bull Racing 219
3 Ferrari 142
4 Williams Martini Racing Team 135
5 Sahara Force India F1 Team 98
6 McLaren Mercedes 97
7 Scuderia Toro Rosso 17
8 Lotus F1 Team 8
9 Marussia F1 Team 2

© Ben Johnston 2014

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