Lewis Hamilton Extends His Championship Lead – RACE REPORT & DRIVER INTERVIEWS
Location: Budapest, Hungary
Race Weekend: 2018 Hungarian Grand Prix
The final race before the summer break and another great weekend for Lewis Hamilton who seems to have turned things in his favour, winning the race and extending his lead in the championship. Sebastian Vettel isn’t too far behind and of course, this makes the second half of the season just as exciting as the battle will definitely be on as the two will be fighting for their fifth world-championship.
Overall, not the result that Ferrari wanted (or expected) as they were the dominant team throughout the weekend up until yesterday in Qualifying where we had the rainfall.
Both drivers had a good start, Kimi Raikkonen had the slightly better start compared to his team-mate however Vettel quickly picked up the pace but didn’t manage to gain any places. A clean start for most of the drivers with little contact – knowing full well that there would be plenty of opportunities later on.
Leclerc was the first driver to go out of the race, pulling up to one side of the track and ending his race due to an issue.
In the lead, Lewis Hamilton looked comfortable whilst his team-mate in P2 was in effect blocking off the two main contenders.
Ferrari bringing in Kimi Raikkonen first (who also didn’t have a drink bottle connected to his car) – with a slow pit-stop for the driver, undoing his good work however once out on track, looking strong yet again.
Hamilton came into the pits prior to Vettel who claimed the lead, a good pit-stop for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas team who got Hamilton back out in P2, behind Vettel and in front of Bottas who then later reclaimed the lead after Vettel’s pit-stop who also had a problem – losing a lot of time and coming out behind Bottas.
Verstappen suffering with an issue to his car – an awful result for the Red Bull Racing team and and another failure leaving Verstappen extremely frustrated. His team-mate on the other hand was making his way through the grid and at one point – up in P5.
Fast forward to the latter part of the race and Vettel had caught up to Bottas however hadn’t managed to get past – with his team urging him to make the move, he couldn’t and got caught up – losing time by being behind Bottas. This meant that Kimi Raikkonen managed to catch up to them, adding extra pressure on Vettel and allowing Hamilton to open up the gap in the lead, controlling the race nicely.
A few laps later, Vettel finally managed to make his way past Bottas however it seems that he closed the door too early onto Bottas with contact between both drivers. It could have been a lot worse for Vettel however he managed to continue to the end of the race whereas Bottas had to come into the pits.
Raikkonen also took advantage of the situation, claiming P3 – previously thinking P4 would be the best result for him.
2 laps later, Ricciardo had caught up to Bottas and whilst trying to make his way past – Bottas goes right into the side of him due to the lack of downforce, a terrible way to close the end parts of the race however at least the damage didn’t end their races there and then.
Lewis Hamilton continued to control the race and managed to bring the car home – extending his title lead in the championship and going into the summer break with much happiness and motivation for the second half of the season – although he mentioned after the race that him and his team would be working on the car to bring it to the next level.
Here’s driver reaction following the race.
MERCEDES – RACE REPORT & DRIVER INTERVIEWS
Lewis Hamilton: “We’ve definitely had ups and downs in this Championship, it’s such a rollercoaster ride – but the team has just remained strong. We’re in a great position right now, but what’s important is that we don’t drop the ball.”
“The last two weekends have been such a blessing with the rain, I’m so grateful. The guys have worked so hard this year, they really deserve a good result.”
“There’s still a lot of work to do because Ferrari are still slightly ahead of us, they had the pace this weekend, especially on this circuit. Today I had them covered, but had they been on pole, we would have struggled.”
“So we’ve got some improvements to make in our overall package to try and close the gap to them, but I’m really happy with the job everyone’s done so far, we just have to keep going. The goal is now to really pull together and become even stronger for the second half.”
“That will be key to add to what we’ve built in this first half of the season. I’m excited about the summer break; I will do different stuff over these two weeks, but I will be training through the whole period of time, trying to improve my physique.”
“Physicality-wise, I’m not struggling out there at all, but there are always areas where you can be better, and I want to make sure I come back with more energy so we can turn up the heat in the second half of the season.”
Valtteri Bottas: “It’s a shame that I ended up in P5; we wanted more today and it would have been great to go into the summer break with a 1-2 finish. I was trying everything I could but the stint on the Soft tyres was just too long.”
“In theory, a one-stop strategy should have worked but we had to stop earlier than we had planned to cover Kimi who pitted in the lap before me. Until about 15 or 20 laps before the end our plan worked out well, we controlled the pace and there was no threat to my position but then the rear tyres started to die.”
“Towards the end of the race, I had an incident with Sebastian going into Turn 2 – he was on the outside, I still had my nose inside. He turned in early, there was nowhere to go for me, so we touched and I had damage to my front wing.”
“For me it was a racing incident – and so was the incident with Daniel. Again, I was on the inside, he was on the outside.”
“Half of my front wing was missing at that time, I was locking up, and we touched. Now I’m looking forward to the next weeks, a bit of a break will be good, and then I want to come back stronger.”
FERRARI – RACE REPORT & DRIVER INTERVIEWS
Sebastian Vettel: ” Today we were fast in the first stint, but at the end I was a little bit disappointed because I had lost 3 or 4 seconds in the traffic.”
“The pit stop we did was not ideal either, as we lost some time there. Then it was very hard, when I was running close to Valtteri and trying to overtake him. However, at the end I knew I could be faster than him thanks to my tyres, which were fresher.”
“We tried everything we could and I think second position is the best result we could get today. I think there’s a lot of things we did well and some others not that much, but that’s part of the game.”
“It has been a very hard week for all of us, so I think that having both cars on the podium is a very good result. I am happy to see that the car is fast, it has worked well on every track so far, so I think this is the most important thing.”
“Our car has a big potential, so I feel relaxed, going on holiday, for the races to come.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “The start was ok, I got a tow and I was deciding which side I should go; but then Bottas moved the same side, trying to block me, so I braked earlier and lost the position to Sebastian.”
“After that it was all about trying to get some free air and use the speed I had, giving myself a hard time in trying to to put pressure on the others and not being able to save the tyres. The race went by pretty quick, we were pushing through the whole race with decent tires all the time because of the two-strategy stops we had.”
“The fact of not having my drink bottle available was obviously not ideal, but not so much of an issue either. Today we had the speed, but we know that this is a tricky circuit for overtaking.”
“The race was decided yesterday in qualifying, but in the end we managed to get back one place each. Second and third is the maximum we could hope for today; it’s quite an ok result, but it’s not what we want.”
“On the second half of the season we’ll try to turn it around and do a bit better. I know it’s still a long way to go, anything can happen and things can change quickly.”
“We keep pushing, trying to improve on the small details and be consistent, and I’m sure we can get higher podium positions.”
MAURIZIO ARRIVABENE – Team Principal
Maurizio Arrivabene: “At a track where overtaking in the race is always difficult, we managed to finish higher up the order than we started, thanks to the efforts of the entire team and a great performance from both drivers.”
“Now we still have one week at work before the summer break, which will allow us to reflect calmly on the races yet to come.”
“There is still a long way to go this season and the important thing is for the team to work in a calm and determined fashion, giving its all during the second half of the season.”
RED BULL RACING – RACE REPORT & DRIVER INTERVIEWS
Daniel Ricciardo: “We had a pretty good car and I was able to make it to fourth having been at P16 at one point in the first lap so in the end, it was a really good result for us. The start was pretty hectic and I took a hit on my front left tyre which caused some vibrations and we lost a few positions there.”
“Ocon then went really deep in Turn 6 and cut the chicane yet stayed in front of me for two laps – that was frustrating, especially at the beginning when everyone is so close, you lose a lot of ground.”
“After this, with the pace advantage we had, we were able to get on and do some overtakes. I had some fun with that and could get up the fire – before the incident at the end with Valtteri in Turn 1, I knew that he had some damage so I know that it should be relatively easy to pass him but obviously he went too deep in that turn.”
“I couldn’t see his car in the blind spot so I left room and then I go hit but fortunately, I didn’t spin. I thought it was likely that he would get a penalty but I really wanted to pass him on track – I was happy today and to finish and get some points is a race that I feel I maximised.”
Max Verstappen: “Today didn’t go the way we had planned – I felt good with the car and had a strong start but the race was then over within the six laps. It’s really frustrating after putting in all that effort throughout the weekend and being in a promising position but then having to stop due to an unreliability – it’s really frustrating.”
“It’s a shame that we missed out on that and we missed out on valuable points. It’s such a shame for not just myself but also the team but also to the fans who have come back here and are always supporting me. It’s not fun to watch.”
“I don’t really feel like going away on holiday now as this isn’t the way I wanted to finish the first part of the season. I would have liked to get back in the car to race again and finish on a strong result – unfortunately, I can’t”
CHRSTIAN HORNER – Team Principal
Christian Horner: ” A fantastic recover by Daniel who actually completed the first lap down in P16 – he made his way through the field with some decisive overtaking and had rapidly moved up to P5 by the halfway stage of the race.”
“We then changed to the UltraSoft tyre for the final part and after Valtteri and Sebastian, the wounded Mercedes hit Daniel when he was attempting to pass him for good on Turn 1 causing significant damage.”
“Max had a hugely frustrating day with an engine failure with only five or six laps gone – he had made a great start and we had a competitive race car so it would have been a fight for the podium having seen the pace of Daniel today.”
MCLAREN – RACE REPORT & DRIVER INTERVIEWS
Fernando Alonso: “It was a good Sunday for us and it was down to the pit-wall strategy as they executed the perfect strategy. They decided to extend the first stint as much as we could, doing around 15 laps more than the others and that meant that Stoffel and I recovered three or four positions.”
“We really deserved the eighth and ninth positions today but unfortunately the gearbox problem prevented Stoffel from taking any points, otherwise it would have been a perfect Sunday for us.”
“I’m happy that we’ve delivered the result and have scored another four points for the team – Sunday is where it finally counts. Now, it’s time to relax but before then he jumped in the car again in mid-August.”
Stoffel Vandoorne: “A really disappointing race for me, we had a superb start and we started a bit further down in the grid than what we wanted after yesterday and we gained a few places on the opening lap.”
“We had really good tyre management in the opening stint and strong pace when it counted – a good pit-stop and we managed to jump a lot of cars during the pit window. It was a great strategy from the team to come out in the points with both cars and we were feeling comfortable so it was all about bringing the car home.”
“Unfortunately, we had a technical problem and I had to stop the car – it shows that this is a mechanical sport and it’s disappointing to finish like that but I think that as a team, we did everything right today. We got ourselves as high as we could and it’s a shame to not finish the first part of the season with a few more points.”
“On a personal note, I felt good this weekend and I think that we have shown today that the pace is back to where it had been before with a more ‘normal’ feeling and I can be happy with me performance. I’m looking forward to the summer break, to relax a little bit and clear my head then turn up in Spa for my home race.”
PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND – HUNGARIAN GRAND PRIX