The race bet came off, although that may be due to luck, but if luck helps me out I won’t complain. Overall the weekend was very slightly red.
I’m writing this after listening to it on the radio, and plan on giving the highlights on TV a look later.
At the start it was largely formation flying at the sharp end. Further down the grid Webber had a good start, leaping to seventh (he started 10th) and Di Resta also made up some places.
The closest thing to a major incident at the start was Massa and Rosberg having contact, which slightly damaged Rosberg’s car and put him down quite a few places (helpfully). Late on Rosberg’s engine died on him, which was probably due to overheating from running in dirty air for the entire race.
Most of the frontrunners went for a three stop strategy, starting on softs. Raikkonen, although starting soft, went for a two stop, as did Webber and Button, both of whom started on the medium tyre.
Hamilton’s tyre wear seemed the same as everybody else’s, and after the first pit stops Vettel and Grosjean (in competitive terms second and third) were stuck behind Button (at that stage on slightly old medium tyres) whereas Hamilton was ahead. This enabled Hamilton to easily, gradually build up a nice gap of circa 10-12s on his main rivals.
Vettel passed Button eventually, but when Grosjean did the same thing there was contact, Grosjean was forced to cut the chicane and Button pitted shortly thereafter. For this, the Frenchman got a drive-through penalty, but the radio commentary team reckoned that it was harsh, and that Grosjean was ahead at the time of contact.
This effectively ended Grosjean’s hopes of a win, or even a podium.
At the sharp end Webber’s strategy and good start was looking to possibly put him in contention for a podium place, but Hamilton, after Vettel got stuck behind Button (albeit more briefly) after the second pit stop, was looking very good for the win. The Briton came out behind Webber after the Briton’s final stop, but managed to multi-21 past Webber with relative ease.
After the final stops Hamilton had a comfortable lead and, barring reliability problems, seemed destined to cruise to triumph (his fourth at the Hungaroring, a circuit where pole-sitters tend to lose. I believe he was circa 8-9 to win, or something like that). Raikkonen was second on old tyres and Vettel third on much fresher ones. The Finn and German tussled over second, but Vettel could not pass him.
Rosberg, with a few laps to go, retired. A shame for him but this did enable Maldonado to rise to 10th, and gain Williams their first point of the season.
Alonso finished fifth, with a lacklustre performance. Ferrari said pre-qualifying that they were compromising race pace for qualifying, and it showed (but didn’t get them a great qualifying position). They seem to be going backwards when Red Bull are resilient, Lotus are resurgent and Mercedes are fast.
Grosjean ended up sixth, which he must be disappointed with. That said, he’s been fast this weekend and it bodes well for his prospects. Button was seventh and Perez ninth, and McLaren also appear to have taken a step forward. They aren’t going to trouble the frontrunners, but regularly racking up points will help them. (Massa was eighth).
Here are the Drivers’ standings:
Right now I see Alonso going down and Raikkonen/Hamilton potentially making up ground on Vettel. Mercedes are a bit up and down on race pace, but Ferrari now seems to have lost its edge in the races without gaining anything in qualifying. 38 points with 9 races left is a good but not insurmountable margin (I think Alonso had a similar margin over Vettel last year).
The Constructors’ are as follows:
Red Bull 277
I think Red Bull are highly likely to get this. Their car is reliable, and their drivers likewise. Massa isn’t quite quick enough, Grosjean’s a bit up and down, and the Mercedes seems to be slightly unpredictable in terms of both reliability and race pace.
The next race is 4 weeks away, which is a shame. On the plus side, it’s the excellent Spa circuit in Belgium.