Mercedes are convinced they have the best drivers in F1. On the evidence of the Hungarian Grand Prix that is almost correct but the dream pairing would be Fernando Alonso and Daniel Ricciardo.
Alonso took an impossible strategy to run long on option tyres and made it work. No other current F1 driver could have done the same. Taking his Ferrari to within a few laps of victory makes it all the more frustrating that the Spaniard is not in a car capable of winning.
Despite Vettel getting back on terms with Ricciardo in qualifying, the Aussie is still a cut above his illustrious team-mate on Sundays. His race-craft and incisive overtaking were a joy to watch, and his move around Hamilton to take second was outrageous and thrilling. Should Renault continue to improve, Ricciardo could still play a significant role in deciding the 2014 World champion.
After races where the pressure-cooker environment at Mercedes eased slightly, the temperature cranked up again in Hungary. Fortune favoured Hamilton with safety cars compromising his team-mate. And with stewards encouraged to be more lenient, Hamilton took further advantage with a border-line fair defence of third place against Rosberg. That takes nothing away from some strong racing by Hamilton and overtakes on a circuit you supposedly cannot pass on. But the precedent has been set; don’t expect Rosberg to give Hamilton any room for the rest of this season.
Whilst everything in F1 still hangs in the balance, one thing is clear: F1 is in rude health and Flavio Briatore’s services to ‘spice up’ the sport are not required.