Vettel Claims Hungarian Grand Prix Victory Amidst Team Order Frenzy
The German extends his lead to fourteen points over Lewis Hamilton.
This year's Hungarian Grand Prix was one that was dictated by strategy, mainly between Ferrari and Mercedes as each looked to gain the most points for their respective championship efforts. Pole sitter, and eventual winner, Sebastian Vettel battled steering problems throughout the entirety of the race with teammate Kimi Raikkonen on his heels, and Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton switched places back and forth after following team orders. An eventual radio decision led to the points leader capturing a victory with his veteran teammate Raikkonen nabbing second.
The final 1-2 standings were separated by only .908 seconds, showing just how close the Maranello boys were. Subtle frustration filled the race as teammates from both Ferrari and the silver-arrow crew were ordered to make way for one another on occasion, hindering the overall flow of the race.
Early moments of the GP set the stage for the remainder of the race with Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo being forced to retire after a collision with his own teammate Max Verstappen. "Someone hit me. Is that who I think it was?" he asked. "F*****g sore loser." Verstappen would go on to finish fifth, one spot ahead of McLaren's Fernando Alonso.
In his best finish this season, 'Nando was able to achieve points for just the second time in 2017 in addition to performing the fastest lap of the race. He was able to push his typically-hobbled McLaren Honda around track better than before, and finished four spots ahead of his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne.
At the end of the race, Lewis Hamiton said in an interview “I don’t know why they were so slow,” who had not yet learned of Vettel’s problems in the race. “I was thinking that maybe they were worried about the tires not going the distance (like at Silverstone) so maybe they were going slow to then speed up later but that wasn’t the case."
Hamilton, second in the drivers' championship, eventually gave way for Bottas to take the lead ahead of him, costing him three points.
“It’s tough in the championship (to give three points away) but I’m a man of my word so, I did say to let me by and if I can’t overtake him I’ll give the place back. To slow down by seven seconds was tough and I was nervous about losing a place to Verstappen but fortunately I didn’t.”
Finally, Kimi Raikkonen released a statement regarding his team's orders to stay behind Vettel, even after the Mercedes pair started closing in the gap.
"I think he (Vettel) would have had to make quite a big mistake or had an issue," the former champ said. "It’s not easy to overtake and when it's your teammate you take more care but I’m still happy so that’s the main thing.”
Vettel stood on the podium with the trophy raised above his head, understandably excited.
“I’m over the moon,” said the Ferrari ace. “It was a really difficult race. Maybe it didn’t look like it but I had my hands full from three or four laps after the start. I don’t know why the steering started to go sideways and it seemed to get worse. I tried to stay off the kerbs and save the car – It wasn’t easy!"