From second row on the grid to a double podium finish. With Seb second and Kimi third, Scuderia Ferrari probably got the most they could out of a difficult Sunday. However, there has to be a question mark, or maybe regret, about what might have been, but for a moment’s hesitation at the pit stop. Or for that matter, if it hadn’t rained on Saturday afternoon. But the SF71H continues to show it is strong everywhere and Vettel’s overtake on Bottas was the best move of the race.
Hungarian Grand Prix : combative and spectacular
Kimi started from third on the Ultrasoft tyres and behind him, Seb was the only driver in the top four to opt for Softs, which would offer less performance at the start but would last longer. It was a normal start up to turn 2 when Seb went round the outside of Kimi, from which point on he had to manage his pace.
Raikkonen was the first to pit, coming in on lap 15 for Softs, with Bottas covering the move next time round. After 20 laps, Seb began to step up the pace with the aim of pulling out a big enough lead over Bottas in order to stay ahead after the pit stop. That brought down the gap to Hamilton who pitted on lap 26, fitting the Softs, or the Options if you prefer engineers-speak.
Sebastian continued to gain on Valtteri and therefore stay on track. Kimi was also catching his fellow countryman, having lost a bit of time at the pit stop while tyre debris was cleared out of the brake duct.
After 33 laps, Raikkonen was now in DRS distance of Bottas, but overtaking is not easy here and there are backmarkers to steer clear of and Seb also radioed the pit wall to ask for the blue flags.
On lap 39, the Ferrari mechanics stepped out into the pit lane to fit another set of the yellow banded tyres for Kimi. As planned, Seb went for the Quali tyres, the purple-banded Ultrasofts. But the stop took longer than planned and the SF71H emerged behind Bottas who had significantly upped his pace. The two men duelled on track, while Kimi set a fastest race lap. In fact, now the main concern was not attacking, but not staying too close to the car in front in order to control the brake temperatures.
In the last 20 laps, the number 5 car closed up again before a Virtual Safety Car was needed after Vandoorne stopped on track. As the race resumed, Vettel’s Ultrasofts were still in great condition, but after Monaco, the Hungaroring is the worst track for those who enjoy watching overtaking moves. By now, Kimi had closed right up on these two, which on any other track would have been the prelude to some thrilling action.
Lap 65 and Seb made a bold move down the outside, taking the inside line through turn 2 to go ahead of Bottas, who, in trying to defend his position, hit the Ferrari damaging his front wing, which meant Kimi was able to slip by. The race had turned around but too late to aim for the top position. But nevertheless it was a race in which Ferrari could take pride in its combative nature.