F1 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix result: Hamilton finishes on the podium
- Credit: Mercedes-Benz
Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton finished on the podium following a thrilling 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix at the Hungaroring near Budapest.
The 29-year-old Mercedes AMG Petronas star from Hertfordshire finished third after starting from the pit-lane following a fuel leak and engine fire in qualifying yesterday (Saturday).
Daniel Ricciardo took the chequered flag for Red Bull, with Fernando Alonso second for Ferrari on worn tyres.
Hamilton just held on for the final spot on the podium ahead of his Silver Arrows teammate Nico Rosberg following a dramatic and eventful race.
World championship leader Rosberg, who started on pole position, crossed the line fourth. Today’s result in Hungary saw Rosberg’s FIA F1 World Drivers’ Championship lead cut to 11 points heading into the sport’s summer break.
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Hamilton’s podium hopes were helped by rain soaking the track before the start and then two safety car periods during the race.
Afterwards Hamilton said: “It is a great result today. I was just pushing as hard as possible to get as high as I could. It was obviously damage limitation after what happened yesterday.
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“I can’t express the pain I feel when we have issues such as in the last couple of races; it’s hard to swallow and difficult to come back the next day and get the right balance between not attacking too much, but pushing to the limit.”
Hamilton added: “The two safety car periods helped quite a lot, but naturally I looked fast and had the pace this weekend, so there was an opportunity for more points.”
As for his battle with Rosberg, Hamilton said: “I was in the same race as Nico and if I let him past and he had the opportunity to pull away, then he would have come back and overtaken me.
“I didn’t understand why the team asked me to do that as he didn’t get close enough to overtake and I didn’t want to lift off and lose ground to Fernando [Alonso].
“It was close at the end and it was getting very hard to keep Nico behind as he was catching at close to three seconds a lap.”
The Hertfordshire-born F1 star added: “Coming back through shows how great this car and team is, and this result is much more satisfying than an easy win.
“Going into the break, I’m still in the fight for the championship, which is very satisfying.”
After a downpour in the final hour before the race, all teams were forced to start on the intermediate tyres. With his brakes still cold after starting from the pit lane, Hamilton spun off a wet and slippery track on the opening lap at Turn Two and his car kissed the barriers.
Despite suffering damage to his front wing end plate, Hamilton had climbed to 16th by the end of lap five as pole-sitter Nico Rosberg pulled ahead at the front of the field.
Driving a makeshift Mercedes rebuilt overnight, Hamilton was still second fastest out on track – behind race leader Rosberg – and continued to overtake slower backmarkers.
At the beginning of lap eight Hamilton motored ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari down the main straight for 13th place.
However, the safety car was deployed on the following lap when the Caterham of Marcus Ericsson crashed into the tyre wall.
This mixed things up even more, with some drivers perfectly placed to take advantage of the safety car by ducking into the pits for fresh rubber straight away.
Rosberg, who pitted a lap later, found himself down in fourth place after the first round of stops, with Daniel Ricciardo significantly now leading the race for Red Bull.
Having been more than 30 seconds behind Rosberg before the safety car was deployed, the gap between Hamilton and his Silver Arrows colleague was cut to just nine seconds during this period of the race.
The safety car stayed out for a few laps longer than expected when Romain Grosjean also crashed his Lotus and debris had to be cleared from the track.
Jenson Button, on intermediate tyres, took the lead from Ricciardo when the race restarted after the safety car period, but the McLaren driver soon entered the pits again with the track drying.
Hamilton also made significant progress through the field, climbing from 13th to ninth behind Vettel’s Red Bull.
With Rosberg’s struggling Mercedes overtaken by Jean-Eric Vergne’s Toro Rosso, the German world championship leader slipped back to seventh place – just ahead of Vettel and Hamilton.
Button’s stop saw him drop down to 18th, with Rosberg, Vettel and Hamilton now battling over fifth, sixth and seventh places.
The safety car was deployed again on lap 23 when Mexican Sergio Perez smashed his Force India into the pitwall barrier down the main straight, resulting in a lot of debris on the track.
With Ricciardo pitting and the rest of the front-runners staying out, Ferrari star Alonso took the race lead ahead of Vergne, with Rosberg third, Vettel fourth and Hamilton now fifth, after starting from the back of the field.
With Rosberg in the pits for a slow tyre stop, there was further drama on lap 32 when Vettel spun his Red Bull on the home straight and almost smacked into the wall, as Hamilton climbed into third place.
With clean air, the Stevenage-born driver set the fastest lap of the race. Hamilton then hassled Vergne and eventually overtook the Toro Rosso with a brave move on the outside at Turn Four.
The Mercedes man, having stopped just once, then gained on race leader Alonso, with Rosberg 22 seconds behind his Silver Arrows colleague at the halfway stage.
Alonso pitted on lap 38, with Hamilton coming in a lap later and dropping down to fifth place, but still ahead of Mercedes teammate Rosberg.
On new medium compound tyres, Hamilton set another fastest lap of the race, with Ricciardo leading once again from Felipe Massa’s Williams.
Raikkonen pitting from third place lifted Hamilton into fourth spot behind Ricciardo, Massa and Alonso. Hamilton gained another place when Massa stopped for tyres, but the Hertfordshire race ace now had Rosberg hot on his tail, although the German was on a different strategy.
With Rosberg to stop again, Hamilton was told to let his Silver Arrows colleague pass, but the 2008 F1 world champion refused to slow down to let the newly-married 2014 German GP winner through, with the gap between them more than a second.
Hamilton said over the radio: “I’m not slowing down for Nico.”
With 15 laps to go, then race leader Ricciardo pitted for a final time, with Alonso moving into first place with Hamilton and Rosberg up to second and third respectively.
Rosberg eventually came in for new option tyres on lap 56 and dropped down to seventh behind Massa and Raikkonen.
The German, now the fastest man on the Hungaroring, claimed back the positions on the track and moved into fourth place, with Alonso, Hamilton and Ricciardo battling it out for the podium positions.
With less than a second separating the tussling top three, Rosberg slashed the gap on the leaders in the final laps and closed right in on the leaders.
After locking up, Hamilton lost second place in the closing laps to Ricciardo, and the Australian Red Bull driver reclaimed the lead from Alonso with three laps to go.
Alonso managed to hold on to second place ahead of Hamilton, who, in turn, defended third place from Rosberg. Mercedes’ world champion leader admitted it was a “disappointing” afternoon after starting from the front of the grid.
Rosberg said: “A few things didn’t work out for me and it was a very up and down race.
“In the beginning it was all under control. Unfortunately the safety car cost me the lead, because I just missed the pit entry and then I couldn’t pit.
“I also had some braking issues after the safety car went in and a difficult period of time with handling this, which cost me some positions.
“Then I was able to push a lot. I had a great last stint and at the end there was one chance to overtake Lewis in the last lap, but it didn’t work out. So that is massively disappointing.”
After finishing fourth, Rosberg added: “We need to sit down and analyse internally what went wrong today. I’m still leading the championship, which is a positive thing, and I’ll be ready to attack again after the summer break.”
Mercedes-Benz Motorsport head Toto Wolff admitted the conditions made it a difficult race for the team. He said: “The safety car periods worked out better for some and worse for others.
“If you look at the leading three cars before the safety car period, they ended up in fourth, seventh and eighth – and that was what really cost Nico, when he was held by the safety car and couldn’t get back to the pits.
“The result for us was also down to some brilliant driving from Lewis and Nico. To finish third and fourth on a circuit that’s very difficult to overtake on is probably the best we could have done today, given the challenges that were thrown our way.”
Wolff added: “Again we had reliability issues on Lewis’ car and we had some very difficult decisions to make in the race. Obviously, we need to sit down, discuss and analyse the moment when Lewis was asked to let Nico pass – but, like always, we will do this calmly and work our way through any confusion or misunderstanding.
“There were so many things influencing the decisions we made and we must still determine whether we were right or not.
“We are not satisfied with third and fourth today, so we will look at everything and try to improve for the next race.”
Mercedes technical director Paddy Lowe said: “It was a difficult afternoon; but it was never going to be easy with one car starting from the pit-lane.
“On the other side of the garage we were well lined up with a good car and good pace. We opened up a healthy lead from the start in tricky conditions until the race was overturned by a safety car.
“For reasons we don’t yet understand, the safety car split the pack and Nico got stuck behind it because he had been unable to pit before it was called out.
“We put Nico on a three-stop strategy and Lewis on a two-stop. This caused an interaction which we explained as best we could to each driver. In the event, neither strategy was capable of recovering the win given the impact of the safety car periods.”
Lowe added: “We had a few issues with brake management on both cars and a fuel pressure issue on Lewis’ car that we will look into more closely.
“The problems didn’t have a significant effect on performance and at the end of the day, third and fourth was probably the best we could do in the circumstances.”