If any­one can, Dan can

F1 Racing - - FINISHING STRAIGHT -

Inspired by the spirit of Jules Bianchi, Ric­cia­rdo gives it his all to un­set­tle the usual or­der in Bu­dapest

To a man they rose in the Hun­garor­ing’s grand­stands to cheer the war­rior they’d seen wield a broadsword in deance of his ri­vals and in fu­ri­ous, although ul­ti­mately vain, pur­suit of vic­tory.

They’d watched Daniel Ric­cia­rdo driv­ing at his mus­cu­lar, ath­letic best, us­ing his RB11 as a weapon, no less, dar­ing his peers to im­pede his progress, un­afraid of a lit­tle ‘car­bon kiss­ing’ along the way.

He and Valt­teri Bot­tas were the rst to get in­ti­mate, on lap 1 – com­ing to­gether through T2 in a nudge rough enough to briey pitch the Red Bull into the air, though with no last­ing dam­age. Then, much later, post-Safety Car and with Ric­cia­rdo on softs and Lewis, Nico and Seb ahead on medi­ums, there was more bish-bash-bosh.

Hamil­ton got it rst, un­der­steer­ing into Ric­cia­rdo as Perth’s nest grafted around the out­side at T1, on lap 49, to take third. There was dam­age to the Red Bull’s side and oor, but the pass elec­tried the masses and prompted grand­stand re­joic­ing – a spon­ta­neous, ap­pre­cia­tive out­burst for a man driv­ing with his heart on the sleeve of his race­suit. Driv­ing, as he’d later conde, in mem­ory of Jules Bianchi, whose pass­ing lent a poignant tone to the 30th edi­tion of the Hun­gar­ian GP.

Watch­ing Ric­cia­rdo scream out of Turn 5 in chase of Ros­berg as the laps ticked from 50s to 60s, was to wit­ness pri­mal driv­ing. The men­ace of his pur­suit was so erce it made Ros­berg’s ca­pit­u­la­tion in­evitable, given Mercedes’ bafing sec­ond-stop choice of harder Pirelli medi­ums. On grip­pier softs, Ros­berg and Merc would them­selves have been hun­ters, chas­ing down Vet­tel who was scam­per­ing away into the lead. In­stead, they be­came prey.

How, though, would Ric­cia­rdo make his move? His RB11 might have been the fastest thing on the ’ring in the clos­ing quar­ter, but it was al­ways 6mph slower down the straight than a W06 with a stonk­ing PU106B Hy­brid un­der the hood.

Ric­cia­rdo was in no mood to be de­tained by such footling de­tails, how­ever. He’d won here against the odds a year ago with a Mercedeshum­bling vir­tu­oso dis­play and he fan­cied more of the same. So he did the only thing he could: he used the won­der­fully pli­able chas­sis bal­ance achieved this day to wax Ros­berg’s tail through Turn 14 on lap 63, gain a bet­ter exit and be just within range at the end of the straight to take a dive into T1.

“I was close, although not close enough,” he said, “but I’d de­cided that I was go­ing to do some­thing that lap, no mat­ter what. It was late, for sure, but it was clean.”

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