Vettel keeps cool, steers to win
Steering trouble not enough to stop Ferrari driver racing to another victory
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