Riccairdo Wins Thrilling Race In Hungary

Daniel Riccairdo celebrates his second victory of the season Sunday in Hungary. [Photo by Sutton Images]

BUDAPEST, Hungary- After seeing many times this season when Mercedes won nearly every race, there was a joke around the paddock that if there was a twisty and slow track with rain, it would give other drivers a chance.

On Sunday afternoon at the Hungarian Grand Prix, that chance was realized as Daniel Riccairdo outsmarted the rest of the field by taking his second victory of the season for Red Bull, followed by Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, who had to start from the pit lane to finish an impressive third.

“We had the fresher tires but I knew it was going to be an exciting finish,” Ricciardo said. “That was a lot of fun, the last few laps.”

Normally, this race is very hot and dry with nothing but great grip and plenty of speed. But this time, the track had experienced on and off showers, which made it wet for the first time in three years. Nico Rosberg got off to a good start and just made it into the first turn ahead of everyone else who were on full wets. But just one lap later, Hamilton spun at turn two, but recovered and returned to the track, complaining of cold tires because he did not take a warm up lap.

Rosberg had no difficulties at the start, taking a four second lead over Williams pilot Valterri Bottas, and increased it to six by the end of lap four. Things were only stable for the next five laps until Marcus Ericcson crashed his Caterham which brought out the safety car. Nearly all of the drivers changed at this point from intermediates to slicks with Riccarido being the quickest to change. However, Rosberg was not as fortunate, and had to take one more lap before coming into the pits. This error by the German suddenly put Riccairdo into the lead with Jenson Button and Felipe Massa right behind him.

The safety car came back into the pits three laps later, and Button took the lead for the first time with intermediates in comparison to Riccairdo’s slicks. The Australian tried as he might to catch the McLaren driver, but Button suddenly dived into the pits for tires, giving Riccairdo the lead once again.

The Red Bull driver led for many more laps, having many times achieved the fastest lap of the race. But it was short lived when Sergio Perez slammed his Force India entry into the pit wall on lap 23, sliding to the other side and striking the barriers. It sent out the safety car once again for the second time of the day and ruined a chance for Ricciardo to increase his lead.

Four laps later, the race resumed and Riccairdo had to come in for tires again. Alonso by now has moved up the grid but came in for tires, giving the Red Bull driver the lead again by lap 40. By this point after all the threats of rain were still there with dark clouds looming. Riccairdo has a 15.6 second lead over Alonso with 20 laps to go, but began to run into trouble with his rear tires and starts to lose time to the Spaniard. Meanwhile, Hamilton is also up there, and will not slow down for Rosberg, who was right behind him. The incident made the German frustrated. However, following a radio message with team technical advisor Paddy Lowe, things calmed down, but chances were certainly lost for the team and both drivers.

Riccairdo came in for his final stop which gave Alonso the lead again with Hamilton in second, but the fresher rubber gave Ricciardo a quicker time and now he began to catch Hamilton with 12 laps to go. As the race gets closer to the end, Alonso, Hamilton and Riccairdo got close to one another and by lap 67, Riccairdo passed Hamilton and one lap later, passed Alonso for the lead. But Hamilton cannot get past Alonso even if the Spaniard is beginning to lose his traction.

Rosberg began to close in once more on Hamilton, and by the final lap, just missed out, finishing fourth. Alonso finished his best so far this year, taking second, with Riccairdo winning his second race of the season.

For the rest of the grid, Massa ended up in fifth, while Kimi Raikkonen was sixth. Sebastian Vettel had an awful day, finishing seventh, while Bottas was eighth. Jean –Eric Vergne ended up in ninth, while Button rounded out the grid in tenth.

After his second victory this season since June in Canada, Riccairdo knew exactly what he was going to do.

“I am definitely going to celebrate tonight, party for a few days and enjoy a few days off,” he added.

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