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Hungarian GP: Ocon takes shock victory after lap-one carnage and Mercedes tactical gaffe

Hungarian GP: Ocon takes shock victory after lap-one carnage and Mercedes tactical gaffe

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Hungarian GP: Ocon takes shock victory after lap-one carnage and Mercedes tactical gaffe

Hungarian GP: Ocon takes shock victory after lap-one carnage and Mercedes tactical gaffe

Esteban Ocon secured an astonishing first victory of his F1 career following a chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix and courtesy of a major tactical gaffe from Mercedes.

The Alpine driver held off Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel to take the win at the end of the 70 laps at the Hungaroring by 1.859secs, with Lewis Hamilton claiming third, less than a second further back and missing out on the opportunity to claim his 100th win.

Ocon's triumph, on his 78th F1 start and his first since GP3 in 2015, was sparked by a first-corner pile-up that saw Valtteri Bottas take out McLaren's Lando Norris and Red Bull's Sergio Perez.

Bottas' shunt into the back of Norris resulted in the Briton spearing into the side of Max Verstappen, severely damaging the RB16B that limped to the finish in 10th.

It means Hamilton heads into the summer break with a six-point lead over Red Bull, who now trails Mercedes in the constructors' standings by 10 points.

Bottas, Norris, Perez, Leclerc, Stroll wiped out

The build-up to the race was all about the prospect of another Hamilton-Verstappen duel, but that was cut short by the first corner thanks to Bottas.

Hamilton and Verstappen made ideal starts from pole and third respectively, leaving Bottas trailing off the line in the greasy conditions, with Norris and Perez in his Red Bull also passing the Finn.

On the run down to the first corner, Bottas simply braked too late, which resulted in him running into the back of Norris who, in turn, was shunted into the right-hand side of Verstappen's RB16B.

Like a pinball, Bottas bounced off Norris and directly into the path of Perez, leading to the retirement of both drivers. Perez continued but ultimately pulled over halfway into the lap.

Behind the initial shunt, like Bottas, Aston Martin's Lance Stroll also misjudged the braking point and in an attempt to avoid Ocon, instead collected the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc. The Canadian and Monégasque also retired.

The chain reaction saw Leclerc hit McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo, spinning around the Australian, albeit with his MCL35M also sustaining damage.

With severe damage to the bargeboard and floor, Verstappen plummeted down the order and pitted at the end of the opening lap for minor repairs.

Mercifully for Verstappen, the race was soon red-flagged, allowing additional repairs to take place, albeit his car restarting from 13th.

During the 25-minute delay, McLaren was forced to retire Norris, leaving 15 cars remaining for the restart.

Mercedes strategy blunder

But then came a catastrophic strategic error from Mercedes.

On a drying track, the field headed out on intermediate tyres. At its conclusion, all bar Hamilton headed back into the pits to take on medium rubber.

It left the remarkable sight of Hamilton starting on the grid on his own. Unsurprisingly, Mercedes soon told Hamilton to pit for dry tyres, resulting in him dropping from a near-certain victory to 14th and last.

That position was due to a sixth retirement at the pit stops as Alfa Romeo released Kimi Raikkonen into the path of Nikita Mazepin, breaking the front-right wishbone on the Haas.

Mercedes' error promoted Ocon into the lead, followed by Vettel, Williams' Nicholas Latifi, Yuki Tsunoda for AlphaTauri, with Alpine's Fernando Alonso and George Russell in his Williams sixth and seventh.

Mercedes atone for Hamilton mistake

As Ocon and Vettel duelled for the lead, Mercedes pitted Hamilton from 12th place after 20 laps, switching him on to the hard compound and into clear air.

That sparked stops for Ricciardo and Verstappen in response, but Hamilton delivered a superb out lap to perform the undercut, so avoiding an on-track battle with the Dutch driver who was unable to make any progress due to the damage to his car.

At the halfway point of 35 laps, Hamilton had made his way up to fifth courtesy of stops for Russell and AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly, but also after moves on Latifi, Haas' Mick Schumacher, and a superb manoeuvre around Tsunoda at turn four.

In contrast, after being held up for a long period at the end of a chain of cars led by Schumacher, Verstappen was running down in 11th.

Ocon and Vettel battle for the lead

Aston Martin blinked first in terms of pit stops for the leaders, but a slightly slow 3.3s switch after 36 laps compromised the four-time champion.

It allowed Alpine to bring in Ocon a lap later, and with a 2.3s stop, the French driver managed to keep ahead, but only just as Vettel bore down on the run into turn one.

For a couple of laps, Alonso then led before his own stop that dropped him to fifth behind the two leaders, as well as Sainz and Hamilton.

That was until lap 48 when Hamilton pitted again onto a fresh set of medium tyres and fall to fifth behind Alonso, just over 14 seconds adrift, and 22.6s down on Ocon.

At one stage soon after, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff took to the radio to tell Hamilton: "Lewis, you can win this!"

Alonso defence fails to deny Hamilton podium

Within eight laps Hamilton had caught up to the back of Alonso, but the wily old 40-year-old defended brilliantly - proving crucial in allowing his team-mate to claim the win - until lap 65 when he locked up going into turn one.

That allowed Hamilton to finally move up to fourth, and two laps later he claimed third with a move on Sainz, but the laps run out before he could attack Ocon and Vettel.

Behind Sainz and Alonso in fourth and fifth was Gasly, who made a late tyre change to snatch the fastest lap point from Hamilton on the final lap.

Tsunoda claimed seventh, with Williams finally scoring its first points since the 2019 German Grand Prix, with Latifi and Russell eighth and ninth, ahead of Verstappen in 10th.

What do you think?

Onvoorstelbaar dat bottas 5 gridplaatsen straf krijgt? En die LH maar 10 seconden????

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Comments (2)

Jul 2021
First Poster

Onvoorstelbaar dat bottas 5 gridplaatsen straf krijgt? En die LH maar 10 seconden????

Feb 2021

Well done Esteban, you owe Fernando a slap up meal.

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