I’ve not seen this race, but I’ve seen the second corner incident between the Red Bull pair of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, so I thought I’d weigh in on that. Verstappen had initially made a good start and was hassling Hamilton’s Mercedes around the first corner. He got squeezed by the Ferraris and Mercedes’ and as a result Ricciardo was moving ahead of him on the approach to turn 2. Verstappen was too punchy, braking too late and locking up, smacking into Ricciardo and damaging the side pod, causing some kind of leak that ended Ricciardo’s race on the first lap. It wasn’t a deliberate move but Verstappen was desperate to keep ahead of his teammate and that desire manifested itself in the form of an error. Ricciardo was furious, and I would be intrigued by what words were exchanged after the race.
Beyond that incident, what happened?
Whereas last time around in Britain I was saying Mercedes and Hamilton had looked dominant, Ferrari bounced back with a vengeance in Budapest, with Sebastian Vettel taking pole and victory, with Kimi Raikkonen taking second. Even here, there was a manner of mild controversy. Vettel was suffering from handling problems and Raikkonen was quicker, but Ferrari bosses wanted Raikkonen to hold station and act as a buffer to the Mercedes pair behind them. This in turn put more pressure on Raikkonen, with first Bottas, then Hamilton, pushing at him.
Bottas had originally moved aside to let Hamilton have a crack at Raikkonen, but the Mercedes is not great at following other cars, and Hamilton just couldn’t mount an attack. He gave up third to Bottas at the final corner, honouring an agreement with his teammate, but was it the smart move? World championships have been decided by margins of three points or less on several occasions – and Hamilton just gave up three points. Time will be the judge of this.
Spare a thought for Fernando Alonso – the McLaren man took a highly credible sixth place and also ended up with the fastest lap – a reminder that the car has a strong design, just not an engine that does it justice.
Formula 1 now powers down for a month. We resume hostilities in Belgium.