Vet­tel keeps cool, steers to win

Steer­ing trou­ble not enough to stop Fer­rari driver rac­ing to an­other vic­tory

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - DPA

SE­BAS­TIAN Vet­tel bat­tled with a steer­ing prob­lem to hold off team­mate Kimi Raikko­nen for a Fer­rari onetwo at the Hun­gar­ian Grand Prix yes­ter­day.

Lewis Hamil­ton was hard on the heels of the two Fer­raris over the last 20 laps but the Mer­cedes driver could not get into a po­si­tion to at­tack on the tight Hun­garor­ing cir­cuit.

Right at the end Hamil­ton al­lowed team­mate Valt­teri Bot­tas to pass for third place – a sport­ing ges­ture to re­turn a sim­i­lar ear­lier move by the Finn – for the Bri­ton to fin­ish fourth just ahead of Red Bull’s Max Ver­stap­pen.

That de­ci­sion has given Vet­tel an ad­di­tional three points over Hamil­ton in the cham­pi­onship bat­tle, with Vet­tel ex­tend­ing his lead over the Bri­ton from one to 14 points rather than 11 as F1 goes into its sum­mer break.

“It may not have looked like it but it was a dif­fi­cult race. I had my hands full from the start,” Vet­tel said on the podium. “Some­thing went wrong.

“The steer­ing started to go side­ways. To­wards the end it came back when I had a cush­ion but I had to stay fo­cused the whole race.”

Although Vet­tel led from pole, the race was open right to the end in tem­per­a­tures reach­ing above 30 de­grees Cel­sius on the 4.381-kilo­me­tre cir­cuit.

Four-time cham­pion Vet­tel looked com­fort­able for the first half of the race but be­gan ex­pe­ri­enc­ing han­dling prob­lems.

It ap­peared that team­mate Raikko­nen be­hind him could go faster, but it was the Finn’s job for more than 20 laps to hold off Hamil­ton, who had been al­lowed by a slower Bot­tas to go third.

The race be­gan with a Red Bull mishap. Daniel Ric­cia­rdo’s race was over in Turn Two with a bro­ken cooler when he was hit on his left side by team-mate Ver­stap­pen, whose wheels locked on the turn.

Ver­stap­pen was slapped with a 10-sec­ond time penalty for the col­li­sion, with an an­gry Ric­cia­rdo telling Sky Sports: “That was am­a­teur to say the least.”

Vet­tel stayed ahead of Raikko­nen when the safety car came in, while Ver­stap­pen in fourth place be­hind Bot­tas held off an at­tack from Hamil­ton.

With Vet­tel bat­tling steer­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, and Raikko­nen un­der pres­sure from the Mer­cedes duo, it seemed Fer­rari would strug­gle to stay in front.

Hamil­ton, who was al­lowed to pass by an oblig­ing Bot­tas with more than 20 laps re­main­ing, be­gan clos­ing in but could not get close enough to at­tack the Fer­raris on the tight and twisty cir­cuit.

The team had given Hamil­ton no­tice that if he could not over­take Raikko­nen – ini­tially giv­ing the Bri­ton five laps to over­take – to let Bot­tas pass.

With Hamil­ton sev­eral sec­onds ahead and Bot­tas now un­der pres­sure from Ver­stap­pen, that re­turn ges­ture had looked in­creas­ingly un­likely. But just be­fore cross­ing the line Hamil­ton made way for his team­mate as Vet­tel took the che­quered flag for his 46th Grand Prix win.

SUC­CESS: Fer­rari’s Ger­man driver Se­bas­tian Vet­tel drives over the fin­ish line dur­ing the For­mula One Hun­gar­ian Grand Prix at the Hun­garor­ing rac­ing cir­cuit in Bu­dapest yes­ter­day. PIC­TURE: REUTERS

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