Ferrari's Vettel wins dramatic Hungarian GP, Hamilton finishes 6th

  • AP, Budapest
  • Updated: Jul 26, 2015 20:08 IST
Ferrari Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrates winning the Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring circuit, near Budapest, Hungary, on July 26, 2015. (Reuters Photo)

Ferrari Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany won a dramatic, action-packed Hungarian Grand Prix for the first time on Sunday, while Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg blew his chances of catching teammate Lewis Hamilton in the drivers' championship when he punctured a tire near the end.

Four-time champion Vettel started third on the grid. It was his 41st career win and first since the Malaysian GP in the second race of this season.

Red Bull took advantage of late chaos as Russian driver Daniil Kvyat placed second and Daniel Ricciardo, who clipped Rosberg, took third.

Vettel's win put the German driver back into the title race, as Hamilton finished sixth and Rosberg placed eighth.

"Merci Jules, cette victoire est pour toi," (Thank you Jules, this win is for you)," Vettel said in French on race radio, before continuing in English. "You are always in our hearts, sooner or later we know you would have been in this team."

A poignant minute's silence was held in honor of Bianchi before the race, with drivers forming a ring and placing their race helmets on the ground. Bianchi's mother Christine, father Philippe, brother Tom, and sister Melanie joined them as they all linked arms on the Hungaroring grid.

The race completely changed after German driver Nico Hulkenberg crashed and the virtual safety car came out, with Vettel in total control at that point.

With five laps to go and Hamilton well out of contention, Rosberg was catching Vettel. But Ricciardo - the winner last year - tried a daring overtaking move and instead ran into the back of the German driver, puncturing his left tire.
Instead of gaining points from Hamilton, Rosberg slipped further back in the title race.

It is the first time Hamilton has failed to finish on the podium since the Belgian GP last August, where he was nudged off the track by Rosberg and retired.

Starting from pole position for the ninth time in 10 races this season, and 47th overall, Hamilton got away cleanly the first time. But the race was re-started because Brazilian driver Felipe Massa was out of position on the grid. When they restarted, Hamilton got stuck as Rosberg surged past him. With the two Ferraris surging up behind them, the four jostled for position going into the first corner.

Vettel got ahead as Hamilton dropped behind, and Raikkonen then got on the inside of Rosberg, prompting delirious scenes in the Ferrari garage as mechanics jumped up and down.

Worse was to come for Hamilton, who suddenly found his racing line impeded by Rosberg and went off into the gravel on the side, tumbling down the leaderboard. "Nico crossed over my line there, he pushed me wide," Hamilton lamented over the radio to his team.

Ricciardo made a poor start and bumped into the Williams of Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas.

Meanwhile, Hamilton was pushing his brakes to the limit as he clawed his way back from 10th, passing Massa with a brilliant overtaking move right on the outside and then setting his sights on Mexican driver Sergio Perez, passing the Force India driver cleanly soon after. With Bottas and Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat pitting, Hamilton moved into sixth.

Up ahead, the Ferraris were pulling away from Rosberg with promising new-found speed and Hamilton was still a massive 30 seconds behind Vettel when the German driver posted the fastest lap on lap 17.

Then, two laps later, Perez went off track after being nudged by Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado - who was given a drivethrough penalty.

Hamilton took his first pit stop on lap 20, switching to soft tires, and Rosberg came in on lap 21 for a different strategy on the less quick but more resistant mediums. Vettel and Ricciardo pitted on lap 22, then Raikkonen. With one third of the race completed, Vettel had a comfortable lead of 6 seconds over Raikkonen and 12 over Rosberg, while Hamilton was pushing hard behind Ricciardo.

But Hamilton got past Ricciardo on lap 30 - at which point Rosberg was 15 seconds ahead of him but Hamilton was gaining time fast. "We need to find time," Rosberg's team informed him. "Lewis is a second a lap quicker, most of that is from the tire but we do need to find more pace."

Everything changed following Hulkenberg's crash.

Hulkenberg's car locked up and went off track into a crash barrier. The German driver was unhurt as his Force India car was towed away by a crane, while many drivers went straight into the pits for new tires.

Once they resumed racing, Vettel held firm, Rosberg surged ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's fading Ferrari, and Hamilton's hopes were ended as he made contact with Ricciardo and had to come in for a new front wing.

The incident was investigated and Hamilton's misery was compounded when he was given a drivethrough penalty. "I'm so sorry guys, really sorry," a contrite Hamilton said on radio.

Sensing victory, Rosberg was only 1.2 seconds behind Vettel with 10 laps to go. Five laps later, those hopes were dashed.

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