A look at the stars and villains from the 2016 Hungarian Grand Prix – a race that turned out pretty dull after a thrilling, 2-hour qualifying session.
Hungarian Grand Prix heroes 2016
Hero – Lewis Hamilton
Should he have had pole on Saturday? Yes
Did he command the race from lights to flag? Yes
Did he deliberately back up his team-mate, Nico Rosberg, in to the clutches of Ricciardo? Yes
Will he now go on and win the 2016 World Championship? Yes
Hero – Kimi Raikkonen
After a lacklustre performance at the British Grand Prix and during qualifying in Hungary, Ferrari’s decision to retain Raikkonen was looking like a real head scratcher. Sunday was a different matter as Kimi got back to his racing best.
Strategy played a big part in his drive from 14th on the grid to a 6th place finish but Kimi was fast and consistent went it counted. He was cheated out of 5th place (more on that later) when Verstappen’s defence crossed the line between robust and unfair. More of the same please Kimi.
Hero – 2 hour qualifying
2 hours of qualifying was epic. Changeable conditions, wet/inter/slick tyre conundrums and a real threat of a big name (I’m not counting Felipe Massa) going out early made the extended qualifying session far more entertaining than the race.
The intrigue around the 107% rule and Rosberg’s pole lap just added to the drama. But not all of it – specifically the delays in calling Rosberg to the stewards – took a real shine off of a memorable F1 qualifying session.
Heroes – McLaren-Honda
Fine the circuit masks the relative under-performance of the Honda hybrid, but you cannot call yourself a true F1 fan if the sight of McLaren mixing it in the top 10 does not get you excited. Unlike previous races, their grid positions were mirrored by performance in the race – further underlying how much progress Honda in particular have made.
Alonso could have snuck sixth or maybe even fifth on the grid but lining up seventh and eighth was a great return. Technical gremlins scuppered Button’s chances but Alonso stuck at it and kept his seventh place at the finish. There is definitely more to come from McLaren-Honda before the end of 2016.
Hungarian Grand Prix zeroes 2016
Zero – Max Verstappen
The kid is a star but there is a touch of Michael Schumacher about him when it comes to defending. He did a sterling job to hold off Kimi Raikkonen on his charge through the field. However Max overstepped the mark when dicing with the Ferrari driver. The final attempt by Raikkonen to pass with a brilliant feint right and then left was defended with what I considered to be two moves.
Which leads on nicely to…
Zero – race stewards
These guys had a nightmare weekend. From the Rosberg yellow flags/pole lap controversy and 107% rule, to Max Verstappen’s blocking it was one to forget for the stewards. Much of it was not of their own making: being left to try and work out the interpretation of the 107% rule was a nice gift from the FIA. But they did not help themselves.
The four hour delay between the end of qualifying and the decision to call Nico Rosberg to account for his purple sector amongst yellow flags was a disaster. The delay it appears was due to the 107% rule interpretation taking so long to clarify. But it still had tongues wagging up and down the paddock about who was speaking to who, and what was being said behind closed doors. Lewis Hamilton’s visit to Charlie Whitting over the issue did nothing but accelerate the rumours when Rosberg was finally called to see the stewards.
On race day things did not get much better. Max Verstappen’s robust defence against Kimi Raikkonen – in my book – contravened the ‘one move’ rule and should have resulted in some sort of censure. Aside from being unfair, it cheated the fans out of what could have been the overtake of the season.
Zero – Felipe Massa
At a time when it is widely rumoured his seat is up for grabs, Felipe Massa put forward a great case for anyone other than him to race for Williams in 2017. A real rookie mistake in qualifying was followed by an anonymous performance on race day. Starting 18th and finishing 18th at the Hungaroring at first seems unsurprising but when you consider Kimi Raikkonen made it from 14th to finish 6th, there are no excuses.
Massa – along with a few other familiar faces – are likely to be out of F1 next season. His performance in Hungary simply sped up that process.
2 out of 5. Not the worst race from the Hungaroring but only saved by the Raikkonen/Verstappen ding-dong and the is he/is he not around Hamilton backing up Rosberg.