HUNGARIAN GP – Esteban Ocon takes victory following carnage at Turn One despite fightback from Sir Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen

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Esteban Ocon has won a dramatic and extraordinary Hungarian Grand Prix after holding off the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel. The race saw a dramatic race start which saw both championship contenders drop out of the points following a collision between their teammates which forced them to take avoiding action.

The drama at the first corner was triggered when Valtteri Bottas misjudged his breaking into the first corner being passed by Sergio Perez and Lando Norris. Bottas then locked up sliding into the back of Lando Norris, followed by Verstappen who clattered into the side of teammate Sergio Perez.

Bottas has been awarded a five-place grid penalty having been deemed to have been the cause of the accident, he will take that for the next race at Spa following the summer break. Norris run of being the only driver to finish in the points this year ended, through no fault of his own.

In a separate first corner shunt, Lance Stroll ran into the back of Charles Leclerc meaning they joined the list of retirement. 25% of the grid retiring by the second corner thanks to the shunt at the first corner.

The first corner incidents dropped both Sir Lewis Hamilton and his title rival Max Verstappen out of the points for the restart. Ocon inherited the lead of the race and then went on to build a gap over Vettel once the race started, in a odd move every car apart from Hamilton pitted at the end of the formation lap.

That proved to be a bad move as Mercedes had to bring him in at the end of the first full lap dropping him to fourteenth. Hamilton then picked his way through the field at a circuit where overtaking is very difficult, his main rival Max Verstappen could only recover to finish tenth.

Hamilton had held the lead as the red flag came out, to clear the debris. The most unbelievable and strangest restart in the history of the sport, probably since Indianapolis in 2005, as Hamilton lead away from the grid as the rest of the field made their pit stop for dry tyres, he dully pitted at the end of lap two, dropping him to the back.

Hamilton’s third-place sees him regain the championship lead, going six points ahead of Verstappen going into the Dutch-Belgian drivers home races at Spa and Zandvoort following the summer break.

That then moved the focus onto Ocon and Vettel, the Alpine driver found himself leading the race on lap five steadily increasing his lead from Vettel throughout the race. The Frenchman looking as if it was just another Sunday afternoon drive despite the pressure from the four-time champion.

Vettel looked to have the better pace putting Ocon under pressure but couldn’t get close enough to pass the Alpine. The Enstone based team taking their first win since Melbourne 2013 when they were called Lotus, and the first for the Renault owned team since Singapore 2009.

However, Vettel could be thrown out of the race after the FIA could not take enough fuel out of Vettel’s car to provide the one-litre sample required under the regulations. Vettel did not complete the cool-down lap after taking the chequered flag, parking his car at the side of the track after being ordered to stop by Aston Martin over team radio.

The restart was one of the strangest restarts in the sport’s history, Hamilton the loan car on pole position, Hamilton duly shot down to Turn One solo, where Ocon was remarkably led out of the pitlane by George Russell, who had been eighth under the red flag but jumped up the pitlane queue thanks to Williams position at the end of pit lane.

Hamilton then pitted dropping to the back, before working his way to fifth before he got into a long battle with Carlos Sainz and Fernando Alonso. The seven-times champion had to spend several laps behind his former teammate before he locked up with seven laps to go, he then past Sainz two laps later for third.

That meant Sainz finished fourth and Alonso fifth, the Alpine’s drivers best finish since his return to F1 this year and since Melbourne 2018. Sainz’s fourth could have been helped by Ferrari’s decision not to react to Hamilton’s first pit stop.

Alonso defence from Hamilton for ten laps could have played an important role in helping Ocon take victory, the Mercedes driver was the quickest driver on track during that stage of the race. The seven times champion had been on fresher tyres following a late pit stop.

The world champion undercutting his championship rival Verstappen which allowed him to chase Sainz and Alonso. The two Spaniards fought each other hard through out the race, but it was the Ferrari who finished fourth.

Ocon said “We’ve had some difficult moments this season but we are back where we belong. Sebastian put me under big pressure but we managed to keep him off, so it’s a great moment.”

Pierre Gasly was sixth finishing ahead of his Alpha Tauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda, in a solid result for the team. The team had instructed Tsunoda to release Gasly before the Japanese driver had a late spin dropping him twelve seconds behind and was then forced to defend off the Williams.

Nicolas Latifi finishing a second ahead of teammate George Russell, the Canadian had closed up in the second stop to get past the Englishman. That left Russell to defend ninth from Verstappen, recovering from the first lap shunt. The Dutchman took tenth after a bold move with ten laps to go.

Verstappen was running with the entire right-hand side of the bargeboard was missing, making downforce difficult for the Red Bull driver. Despite the lack of balance and grip he managed to hang on to tenth after working his way from thirteenth at the restart, defending off former teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Kimi Raikkonen finished eleventh, the Alfa Romeo driver being given a ten-second penalty for a collision in the pit lane with Nikita Mazepin. The Haas driver being the only other retirement outside the pile up at the first corner, thanks to a broken right-front suspension.

Daniel Ricciardo was the sole McLaren left in the race finishing twelfth ahead of Mick Schumacher and Antonio Giovinazzi. The remaining five drivers all caught up or retiring because of the accident at the first corner.

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