No more F1 for quite a few weeks, and Hungary provided us with an absolutely fantastic send-off. From start to finish there were crashes, weather changes, the safety car actually made an appearance (only the third Hungarian race it has ever done so), on-track passing [gasp!] and a riveting fight for the win right at the end.
The bet looked bad initially, good halfway through, bad again in the third quarter and finally, just, came off. Huzzah! Two bets, two wins, greenest race weekend on either measure (bet-and-forget or hedged). After a few red races in a row it's nice to return to the positive side of the balance sheet.
So much happened it's going to be hard for me to include everything relevant, but I'll endeavour to cover the key points.
It had rained heavily prior to the race start, so everyone began on intermediate tyres. Kvyat failed to get off the line for the formation lap and joined Magnussen and Hamilton in the pit lane.
Bottas cleverly kept out of Rosberg's spray and went on the outside to pass Vettel for 2nd, and Hamilton began his mighty comeback by almost immediately parting ways with the track. The track was drying rapidly and there was some confusion over whether rain would appear or not. Just then, Ericsson crashed heavily and a safety car came out. The leaders (Rosberg had cruised into a 9s or so lead by this point) were already past the pit entry and had to go around again before pitting for dry tyres. Magnussen remained out on his initial intermediates, Button pitted for new intermediates and everyone else went for dry tyres.
The bad timing put Rosberg down around 4th, but it was worse for Bottas who ended up something like 12th due to a poor pit stop.
As the safety car was due to pit Grosjean spun in a copy of Ericsson's accident and the safety car stayed out a few laps more.
At this stage Ricciardo was in the lead (I think). Later on Hulkenberg made a rare mistake and crashed, ending his unbroken run of points finishes this year (only Alonso can now make that claim). I forget who but someone span off on the last corner, crashed and prompted another safety car.
Most of the leaders pitted. Alonso and Vergne, ahead of Hamilton did not. Vettel also spun at the same place but was very lucky to merely flat spot his tyres. He drove a controlled (if dull) long final stint to eventually grab 7th.
With 20 laps or so left Hamilton was 3rd, behind Ricciardo and Alonso (Vergne had drifted inexorably backwards after a great first half). Hamilton was on old tyres trying to make them last without another pit stop, Rosberg was immediately behind him but had another stop to make.
The team repeatedly asked Hamilton to let Rosberg pass and Hamilton repeatedly refused (he would have lost 2s or so because Hungary's not easy to just wave cars on by).
Ricciardo and Rosberg pitted. Rosberg emerged 7th, and started scything past the likes of Raikkonen and Massa, hunting down Hamilton. Ricciardo emerged 3rd, and was soon on Hamilton's gearbox.
So, we had Alonso on old soft tyres, Hamilton on old medium tyres, Ricciardo on new soft tyres and Rosberg 15s down the road on new soft tyres but catching the leading pack at 3s per lap with about 8 laps or so left.
Hamilton struggled in vain to pass Alonso who was, unsurprisingly, driving out of his skin. Ricciardo was very close to Hamilton but the Mercedes was much better on the straight. Lap after lap, the Aussie chased in vain.
Then, with a few laps to go, Ricciardo went the long way around Hamilton, and managed to make the move stick. After that, he passed Alonso with relative ease (faster car and Alonso's tyres were awful). He sailed off to enjoy the second of his F1 wins.
But the drama wasn't over. With a couple of laps left Rosberg, who had been refused safe passage by Hamilton previously, caught up to his team mate. He was much, much faster, but didn't quite have the time to pass the Briton.
So, against all odds, it ended with Ricciardo victorious, Alonso in a mighty 2nd and Hamilton with an astounding 3rd.
A word on Ricciardo: pre-season I thought he'd be annihilated by Vettel. I was utterly wrong. But I've also been very impressed by the Aussie's character. He seems very optimistic, down-to-earth and humorous, unlike some drivers. Top bloke, and I'm delighted he got the surprise win today.
Massa was a bit anonymous in the race, but he'll be happy with 5th after numerous crashes of late, and Raikkonen ended up in 6th, which is pretty good from 17th. Bottas will be disappointed with 8th after three podium finishes on the bounce and starting third. He was screwed by a combination of awkward timing for the safety car and a slow pit stop. Today, the Red Bull was a faster car.
Vergne managed to grab 9th and Button ended up 10th. Sutil was just one place away from securing Sauber's first point of the season.
This cuts Rosberg's lead to 11 points. Hamilton must be happy with that, after starting from the pit lane when his rival was on pole. The Mercedes initially cruised away from Bottas but in traffic it just didn't seem as fast. Perhaps they'd gone for a wetter setup or sacrificed straight line speed for downforce.
Great day for Red Bull. Ricciardo drove brilliantly, and Vettel was fortunate to emerge with his car intact after introducing it to the pit wall. His drive from then on was boring but it was impressive to keep one set of tyres for about 40 laps.
Bit of a step backwards for Williams but that's probably more due to the nature of the circuit than a performance change. However, they did lose third in the Constructors' to Ferrari:
Red Bull 219
Force India 98
The refusal of Hamilton to let Rosberg pass may upset a delicate balance at the Silver Arrows. If he had let the German by it's likely Rosberg would have finished ahead of him. But there are still many races to go this year, and his team mate will not forget.
Great race weekend. Dramatic qualifying, thrilling race, and two green bets.
There are four weeks or so until we visit Spa.
As always, questions, comments, observations and so forth are welcome below.