What the hell just happened? I’ll tell you what happened, Daniel Ricciardo just won the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix! That’s what just happened.
Proving the Murray Walkerism that “Anything can happen in Formula 1, and it usually does” Fernando Alonso finished second and Lewis Hamilton, who started from the pit lane, finished third. So, again, what the hell just happened!
The track was wet for the race start and all the drivers started on intermediates. Nico Rosberg made a clean getaway and went about opening up a sizeable gap to those behind. Valtteri Bottas showed some smarts off the line and overtook Sebastian Vettel at the first corner to claim P2.
Daniel lost a couple of places at the start and was in P6 but worked his way back to P5. Marcus Ericsson then had his most influential F1 race to date after he binned his car and invited the Safety Car onto the track.
The timing was such that Daniel was able to quickly dive into the pits for slick tyres while the first four cars had to do almost a complete lap behind the Safety Car. The wash up of all that saw a fortunate Daniel inherit the race lead.
After the Safety Car came in, off he went. The lead was lost briefly to Jenson Button, who was running intermediates on the still drying track, but that didn’t last and Dan reclaimed the lead which he held until lap 22.
Sergio Perez spun on the last corner and smashed his car into the pit wall, which brought out the Safety Car for a second time. Again, Ricciardo was quick to pit, a move which eventually worked to his benefit.
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton was able to make solid progress through the field despite starting from pit lane and then spinning off the track momentarily on lap 2. By the end of the first Safety Car period he had risen to P7, only two places behind Rosberg.
Amazingly, as the race progressed it looked as though Hamilton could be in with a chance of victory. Fernando Alonso, too, was having a good run and inherited the lead of the race after Ricciardo came in for fresh tyres with 15 laps to go.
Daniel rejoined the race in good shape and set about chasing those ahead of him including Alonso, Hamilton and Rosberg. Alonso’s strategy required him to do 32 laps in his final stint and Hamilton, too, was on old tyres. Rosberg also came in for a pit stop, gifting P3 to Daniel, before he also started chasing the leading trio.
Alonso was able to hold Hamilton and Ricciardo at bay with clean defensive driving. However, his pace was slowing as his tyres lost more life and this closed the gap to little more than a second back to Ricciardo in P3. On newer tyres Daniel needed a couple of attempts to get past Hamilton for P2, but showed great racecraft to out manouevre his more experienced rival. He quickly caught Alonso and used DRS to great effect to maximise a half chance and take the lead.
With only three laps to go Ricciardo was able to build a safe margin, leaving Alonso to defend against Hamilton and a super quick Rosberg. Somehow the superior Mercedes pair could not do what Daniel did and overtake Alonso. The race settled with a totally unpredictable first three and Rosberg left to rue his chances in P4.
Felipe Massa was fifth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen (his best result since returning to Ferrari). Sebastian Vettel was seventh and had only himself to blame after a final corner spin on lap 32. He was lucky not to have crashed out but did sufficient damage to his tyres to ruin his chances of a better result.
Valtteri Bottas’ day was cruelled by unfortunate pit timing and he could only manage P8. While Jean-Eric Vergne and Jenson Button rounded out the top 10.
His second grand prix win seemed to sit better with a beaming Daniel Ricciardo, who showed he has no fear or talent deficit with the world champions he’s mixing it with. It’s a great result for the young Aussie as the teams go into the mid-season break before racing returns at Spa in late August.
[Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]
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