I love F1 and there is nothing better than going to a live F1 race. I’ve been itching to go this whole year because I really wanted to see and hear these new F1 cars. So much has been said about the sound and the speed that I needed to know more than what I have seen on the TV.
As luck would have it, Pirelli called me on a Monday evening offering me the chance to go to Hungary with them. After 20 seconds of thought I agreed and started packing.
The trip in itself I’ll leave for another day suffice it to say that this has been the best F1 trip I have ever been on, and I’m fortunate enough to have gone on a few.
We arrived on race day at the Hungaroring with our Paddock Passes and were all very excited. I had given the 36 strong tour group a little talk on the bus about the paddock club and the racetrack and what we could expect, including rain. To describe the paddock club is rather difficult but let me say that it is wildly expensive but if you have the money, it is THE way to watch a live race. It is just so magical.
We got to the tack early so we could walk around a bit and buy various memorabilia etc. The paddock club overlooks all the pit boxes and the main straight but it has TV’s and live timing as well so you can really know what is going on all the time.
An hour before the start of the race, the heavens opened and a huge downpour covered the entire Hungaroring. I was ecstatic. Having not heard the cars as yet, I made my way to the viewing deck which is right overlooking the exit of the pit lane. I knew this was the place to be as all the teams would be trying their starts in the wet conditions. I got to see all the cars trying their starts and heard these beautiful machines for the first time. Granted they do not sound like cars from last year or any year for that matter but they still sound magnificent. You might not need your earplugs anymore but they sound brilliant.
I noticed a few things as the drivers came in and out of the pit lane in their 15 window to do so.
- These cars are difficult to get off the line easily
- Red Bull have a very clunky sounding gearbox
- Ferrari sound the best
- Mercedes seem to have something that gives them better traction off the start. I saw Rosberg hit a specific button and his pull off was much smoother than the other drivers.
- Mclaren (and I have the greatest respect for Mclaren) are not what they used to be. So much so that when the pit crew were getting Kevin Magnussen ready for the tart of the race from the pit lane, one of the tyre warmers was put on the wrong way. This is not the Mclaren I know.
With the wet conditions, it was always going to be a lottery at the start but the main strategy was who would jump first onto the dry Pirelli tyres. I’m no meteorologist but I knew the rain wouldn’t come again. You could smell it in the air.
No incident into Turn 1 was a bit of a surprise but it was Rosberg leading the pack with Bottas, Vettel and Alonso close by. Hamilton started from the pits and nearly binned it soon thereafter but he had nothing to lose.
Marcus Ericcson crashed. In my opinion, this guy is out of his depth in F1. I’m worried for him actually.
The Safety Car was called out and everyone dived into the pit lane as there was a clear drying line on the circuit. The top 4 drivers couldn’t pit as the SC was called after all had gone around the last turn. Ricciardo found himself in the lead for the first time in the race. One other driver also didn’t pit and that was Button who opted to stay on the intermediate tyre because the team though it would rain again. It didn’t.
The race was on, Hamilton has come through the field and although a pit stop behind was charging as he did in Germany.
Sergio Perez then crashed and another safety car came out. Alonso and Hamilton decided not to pit but Ricciardo and Rosberg did. We knew we were in for a cracking finish between the top 4 drivers.
Alonso was leading from Hamilton with Ricciardo charging and Rosberg going even faster. Hamilton could do nothing about Alonso but Ricciardo made a decisive move on Hamilton at turn 2 on the outside and then took the line on the inside at Turn 3 to drop the Brit to 3rd position. Alonso was a sitting duck with older tyres and the next lap Ricciardo took the Ferrari driver down the main straight.
While Ricciardo stretched his lead in the front, Rosberg was on the gearbox of Hamilton and bizarrely the Mercedes team told Lewis to move over for the German driver. Lewis defiantly said no and told them that if Rosberg wanted to pass him, then he should do so on the track. Rosberg surprisingly couldn’t or didn’t want to risk it.
Ricciardo took the chequered flag 5 seconds ahead of the ever brilliant Alonso with Hamilton taking the lat podium position. The only driver from the original top 4 before the first SC to make the podium was Alonso. He drove out of his shoes.
Ricciardo has shown that he is no one hit wonder and if the squabbles continue at Mercedes, he might snatch an unlikely championship from them.
There are few things that hopefully you also noticed at the race.
- The incredible drive from Jean Eric Vergne for Toro Rosso
- Hamilton passing Vergne whilst Rosberg could only pass Vergne in a pit stop race
- Kimi had a much better race and showed his class
- Williams lacked something
- Mclaren have a lot of work to do or get new drivers to lead that team
- Vettel is still struggling with the fact that Ricciardo is beating him but he will come back
The Hungarian GP was one of the great races in F1. The crowd loved it, the commentators loved and the Daniel Ricciardo loved it the most.
What a privilege it was to watch it live and my thanks to Paolo and Wayne at Pirelli and to Chantel and Malusi from TEAMsports for a magnificent experience. And to everyone who was with us on the trip, I have a lot of new genuine friends. Thank you
I’m still floating.
Results - 70 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1h53m05.058s
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari +5.225s
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes +5.857s
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes +6.361s
5. Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes +29.841s
6. Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari +31.491s
7. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault +40.964s
8. Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes +41.344s
9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Renault +58.527s
10. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes +1m07.280s
11. Adrian Sutil Sauber-Ferrari +1m08.169s
12. Kevin Magnussen McLaren-Mercedes +1m18.465s
13. Pastor Maldonado Lotus-Renault +1m24.024s
14. Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso-Renault -1 lap
15. Jules Bianchi Marussia-Ferrari -1 lap
16. Max Chilton Marussia-Ferrari -1 lap
Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 33 laps
Kamui Kobayashi Caterham-Renault 25 laps
Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 23 laps
Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 15 laps
Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 11 laps
Marcus Ericsson Caterham-Renault 8 laps
1. Nico Rosberg 202
2. Lewis Hamilton 191
3. Daniel Ricciardo 131
4. Fernando Alonso 115
5. Valtteri Bottas 95
6. Sebastian Vettel 88
7. Nico Hulkenberg 69
8. Jenson Button 60
9. Felipe Massa 40
10. Kevin Magnussen 37
11. Sergio Perez 29
12. Kimi Raikkonen 27
13. Jean-Eric Vergne 11
14. Romain Grosjean 8
15. Daniil Kvyat 6
16. Jules Bianchi 2
17. Adrian Sutil 0
18. Marcus Ericsson 0
19. Pastor Maldonado 0
20. Esteban Gutierrez 0
21. Max Chilton 0
22. Kamui Kobayashi 0
1. Mercedes 393
2. Red Bull-Renault 219
3. Ferrari 142
4. Williams-Mercedes 135
5. Force India-Mercedes 98
6. McLaren-Mercedes 97
7. Toro Rosso-Renault 17
8. Lotus-Renault 8
9. Marussia-Ferrari 2
10. Sauber-Ferrari 0
11. Caterham-Renault 0