Budapest, 27 July – Fernando Alonso finished the Hungarian Grand Prix in second place to give Scuderia Ferrari its second podium of the season after China, a fantastic morale booster going into the summer break. It was a truly incredible drive from the Spaniard who made the most of the slippery conditions at the start to create the building blocks for the rest of the race. He led for a total of 27 laps, only giving best to eventual winner Daniel Ricciardo on lap 67, the Australian Red Bull driver running on much newer tyres, having made three stops, while Fernando fought off strong opposition from the returning Mercedes duo behind him. To complete a very positive day for the Scuderia, Kimi Raikkonen also put in a strong drive from sixteenth to sixth, to bring home valuable points for the Constructors’ Championship in which Ferrari re-takes third place. Lewis Hamilton completed the podium trio. Alonso is now the only driver to have scored points in every race this season.
The 70 lap Hungarian Grand Prix turned out to be a fantastic advertisement for the sport of Formula 1 with battles and overtaking throughout the field, with people running different tyre strategies. This weekend’s duel between Fernando and Ricciardo was never going to last as long as their fight in Germany last weekend, as the Australian had a huge tyre advantage. As for third placed Hamilton, the Englishman took his Mercedes from a pit lane start to the podium, a remarkable achievement….nearly as remarkable as Fernando’s! In the post-race press conference, the man from Oviedo didn’t feel it was one of his best races, although the assembled media didn’t agree.
Fernando got a fantastic start from fifth in the wet, with everyone running Intermediates and was third by Turn 2 behind Rosberg and Bottas, as Vettel had a poor start dropping to fourth. Kimi made up two places to be 14th. On lap 2, Fernando lost fourth to Vettel when he ran wide and Kimi was 13th.
On lap 8, the Safety Car come out after Ericsson had a huge crash in the Caterham after Turn 3. This worked against Alonso and the other leaders, as they had just gone past the pits, while those further back, including Kimi, all charged straight into pit lane to fit slicks, so that Fernando had to wait a further lap before pitting.
Lap 23 saw the return of the Safety Car as Perez had a huge crash coming onto the pit straight. Ricciardo and Massa came in for fresh rubber, as did Bottas, which promoted Fernando to the lead, ahead of Vergne, Rosberg, Vettel and Hamilton so that Kimi was ninth.
Fernando came in for his second stop, taking on new Softs on lap 38 and it was here that he and the Ferrari strategists secured his podium finish. Realistically, he would have to make one more tyre stop, aiming for a possible fourth place finish. But with his usual skill and grit he did an incredible job of nursing a set of Soft tyres for a massive 32 laps all the way to the chequered flag.
By lap 56 Alonso’s lead over Hamilton came down to 1.2 seconds. Lap 61 the gap was just 0.8 with Ricciardo only 0.5 behind Hamilton. Lap 66 and Fernando’s mirrors were finally full of Red Bull as Ricciardo managed to get ahead of Hamilton. The Australian was on much fresher rubber and inevitably went past Fernando on lap 68. That left three nail-biting laps for the Spaniard to make his Ferrari as wide as possible, just holding off Hamilton to the flag.