Monday, July 25, 2016

Hamilton Heralded as Hungarian Grand Prix Winner


Arriving in Hungary, the 2016 Formula 1 season has officially reached its halfway point. The 10 races prior to the tour's visit to the 4.381-kilometer Hungaroring continues to prove how difficult it is to beat the Mercedes AMG entries. With exception to a Red Bull Racing triumph in the Spanish Grand Prix when the two Mercedes AMG cars beat themselves in the early laps, the German factory team has commanded another season in the open wheel series. However, in 2016, the battle between Mercedes AMG's teammates Nico Rosberg and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton has grown to be the most Contentious. After a roaring start of the season by Rosberg winning the first four events but followed by Hamilton claiming four of the last five events, the drivers are separated by just one point.

In qualifying, Nico Rosberg edged out Lewis Hamilton in the last minute of the Q3 session to obtain the pole position, The advantage of placement for the Hungarian Grand Prix was short-lived for Rosberg once the lights went out to start the 70-lap event. While Rosberg achieved a reasonable start from his prime grid position with his Mercedes AMG machine, the Red Bull-TAG Heuer driven by Daniel Ricciardo launch was better allowing the Australian to hound the German driver. During that first lap surge, Ricciardo would successfully overtake the race's pole sitter but would not be the leader at the Hungoraring. As the battle between Ricciardo and Rosberg ensued, second-place starting Lewis Hamilton was handed an opportunity to gain the lead of the race. As Lewis Hamilton held the lead in the early laps, teammate  Nico Rosberg fought to pass the Red Bull Racing vehicle. By lap 3, Rosberg had mastered a move around Ricciardo allowing a Mercedes AMG 1-2 running order.

Racing in the middle of summer, drivers competing in the Hungarian Grand Prix were challenged by the hottest track temperatures experienced this season. According to Pirelli, track temperature reached 54 degrees Celsius. Despite the heat and an eventful qualifying session that involved four red flags, the main event on the 14-turn course was conducted as an orderly affair for most teams. Only one retirement took place after 70 laps.

Throughout the Hungarian Grand Prix, the interval between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg would remain close. A two pit stop strategy was exercised by both Mercedes AMG machines (as was the case with all-but two finishers of the races) resulting in tire changes occurring just one lap apart. Ultimately mirroring each other on pit and tire strategy, the pass for the lead on the opening lap would be the only advantage Lewis Hamilton needed to propel himself to a 48th career Formula 1 victory. Holding on with a 1.977-second margin of victory, Hamilton's 2016 event win was a record-setting fifth for the British driver at the Hungaroring. In post-race transcript, Lewis Hamilton said, "I don't know what the secret is here. Naturally having a great team and everything coming together is key. But it's a track that I think really works well for an aggressive driver".

Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG

Nico Rosberg finished the Hungarian Grand Prix in second place but the event proved quite costly. Rosberg loses his season-long first place spot in the 2016 Formula 1 Drivers' championship standing. Hamilton is now the series' new points leader posting a six-point advantage on Rosberg heading into the next week's German Grand Prix.

Claiming the final podium spot, Daniel Ricciardo in a Red Bull-TAG Heuer grabbed his first top-three position since the Monaco Grand Prix. With Ricciardo's teammate Max Verstappen taking the fifth place finishing position for the 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing closed on Scuderia Ferrari. As Sebastian Vettel placed fourth and Kimi Raikkonen crossed the finish line in sixth, Ferrari maintains second-place in the oveall constructors' championship by one point. Raikkonen's point-scoring run came after a 14th place starting position. Starting the race on soft compound, Raikkonen's race required two stops for supersoft compound Pirelli tires (differing from most teams that started on supersofts and moved to the soft compound).

After a qualifying session where both team cars progressed into the Q3 session (the first instance since adopting the Honda power units in 2015), McLaren Honda was able to only celebrate one driver collecting points in Hungary. Fernando Alonso crossed the finish line in 7th place but Jenson Button experience a hydraulic issue almost immediately into the Hungarian Grand Prix. In attempt to fix the problem, Button and the McLaren team violated Formula 1's radio communication rules. As a penalty, Jenson Button served a drive-through penalty Continuing for most of the race, Button would retire his car on lap 62 when smoke was reported from the McLaren Honda.

Behind Fernando Alonso, Carlos Sainz Jr finished in eighth place for the third consecutive Formula 1 event with a Toro Rosso-Ferrari. Valtteri Bottas took ninth place for Williams Martini Racing while the final point-scoring position in the 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix was obtained by Force India's Nico Hulkenberg.

The final race before Formula 1's summer break, the German Grand Prix set for July 31th at the Hockenheimring.

2016 Formula 1
Hungarian Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
2 6 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
3 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull TAG Heuer
4 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari Ferrari
5 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull TAG Heuer
6 7 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari Ferrari
7 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Honda
8 55 Carlos Sainz Jr Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
9 77 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
10 27 Nico Hulkenberg Force India Mercedes-Benz
11 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes-Benz
12 30 Jolyon Palmer Renault Renault
13 9 Esteban Gutierrez Haas F1 Team Ferrari
14 8 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 Team Ferrari
15 20 Kevin Magnussen Renault Renault
16 26 Daniil Kvyat Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
17 12 Felipe Nasr Sauber Ferrari
18 19 Felipe Massa Williams F1 Mercedes-Benz
19 28 Pascal Wehrlein Manor Mercedes-Benz
20 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari
21 98 Rio Haryanto Manor Mercedes-Benz
22 22 Jenson Button McLaren Honda

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