When will we ever learn about F1? We were convinced that it had got itself into a rut in which results could be predicted with confidence. More to the point here in Hungary Mercedes was supposed to be on another page as usual, with of the two Lewis Hamilton on a different page to his team mate.
Well, no. Within a minute or so of the Hungarian Grand Prix race start things could hardly have appeared more different. The pre-race wisdom seemed from another age. And indeed by the end with Sebastian Vettel winning followed home by two Red Bulls – without a Merc in sight – it was a result almost nobody predicted.
But that’s the thing, no matter how well-concealed it might seem in this game things can take a very different turn very easily. And that’s how it was in this race, and it was initially via the same avenue that was gone down last time out in Silverstone. Both Mercs launched as if with anchors on and this time two Ferraris swept by. But unlike in Silverstone normality was never restored.
Fast Ferraris’ flight
The red cars with Vettel ahead simply moved clear, showing pace they had almost never hinted at previously in the weekend. Rosberg couldn’t keep up while the talismanic Lewis made things much harder for himself with a trip through gravel later on lap one which dropped him to tenth – never good at the sinewy Hungaroring. And while he made progress through the field he ceded plenty of time so doing. Neither Merc pilot had a good day.
But at around two-thirds it looked like the day might be delivered back into their hands. Kimi Raikkonen encountered engine problems while a safety car period got the Mercs onto Seb’s and the now easy meat Kimi’s tail. But they couldn’t even take advantage of that. Lewis got together with Daniel Ricciardo at the restart which with his resultant front wing damage plus a penalty relegated him to 13th (though he salvaged sixth before the end).
Rosberg’s hopes dashed
This meant that Nico almost in spite of himself looked set to make a sizeable points gain on his team mate, but it went wrong for him too. Ricciardo closed in on soft tyres then sent a rocket up the inside of him at turn one. While he arrived too hot and ran wide when Nico moved back past on the exit he apparently decided to squeeze Ricciardo, they collided which punctured Nico’s tyre as well as damaged Ricciardo’s front wing. There wasn’t an outstanding error by Nico but you wonder, given everything, if he was rather imprudent. His eventual eighth place meant he in fact lost ground in the title chase.
But in a way that was incongruous with what was happening behind him Vettel was flawless throughout; imperious out front in that way he has made familiar. We know the Rudyard Kipling line about if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…you’ll be a man, my son! Well, Seb was a man in this one.