FANTASTIC RACE FOR VETTEL! Sebastian Vettel overtook race-leader Lewis Hamilton and raced to victory at the 2015 Hungarian GP. Image: AP /Petr David Josek
BUDAPEST, Hungary - Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel won an action-packed 2015 Hungarian GP for the first time on Sunday (July 26), while Nico Rosberg blew his chances of catching Lewis Hamilton in the title race when he punctured a tire near the end.
Four-time F1 champion Vettel started third on the grid. It was his 41st career win and first since the Malaysian GP in the second race of this season.
Red Bull took advantage of late chaos as Russian driver Daniil Kvyat placed second and Daniel Ricciardo, who clipped Rosberg, took third.
DEDICATED TO BIANCHI
Vettel's win put the German driver back into the title race, as Hamilton finished sixth and Rosberg placed eighth. Vettel said in French on race radio, before continuing in English: "Merci Jules, cette victoire est pour toi," (Thank you Jules, this win is for you). You are always in our hearts, sooner or later we know you would have been in this team."
As it happened: 2015 Hungarian GP
A poignant minute's silence was held in honor of Bianchi before the race, with drivers forming a ring and placing their race helmets on the ground. Bianchi's mother Christine and father Philippe, brother Tom and sister Melanie joined them as they all linked arms on the Hungaroring grid.
Watch: Nico Rosberg's 2015 Hungarian GP wrap
The race completely changed after driver Nico Hulkenberg crashed and the virtual safety car came out, with Vettel in total control at that point. With five laps to go and Hamilton well out of contention, Rosberg was catching Vettel. Ricciardo tried a daring overtaking move and instead ran into the back of Rosberg, puncturing his left tyre.
DISASTROUS RACE FOR MERCEDES
Instead of gaining points from Hamilton, Rosberg slipped further back in the title race. It is the first time Hamilton has failed to finish on the podium since the 2014 Belgian GP , where he was nudged off the track by Rosberg and retired.
Starting from pole position for the ninth time in 10 races this season, and 47th overall, Hamilton got away cleanly the first time. The race was re-started because Brazilian driver Felipe Massa was out of position on the grid.
When they restarted, Hamilton got stuck as Rosberg surged past him. With the two Ferraris surging up behind them, the four jostled for position going into the first corner. Vettel pushed ahead as Hamilton dropped behind, and Raikkonen then got on the inside of Rosberg, prompting delirious scenes in the Ferrari garage as mechanics jumped up and down.
Worse was to come for Hamilton, who suddenly found his racing line impeded by Rosberg and went off into the gravel on the side, tumbling down the leaderboard.
NICO CROSSED MY LINE'
Hamilton lamented over the radio to his team: "Nico crossed over my line there, he pushed me wide."
Ricciardo suffered a poor start and bumped into the Williams of Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas.
Meanwhile, Hamilton was pushing his brakes to the limit as he clawed his way back from 10th, passing Massa with a brilliant overtaking move right on the outside and then setting his sights on Mexican driver Sergio Perez, passing the Force India driver cleanly soon after.
With Bottas and Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat pitting, Hamilton moved into sixth.
VETTEL EXTENDS HIS LEAD
Up ahead, the Ferraris were pulling away from Rosberg with promising new-found speed and Hamilton was still a huge 30 seconds behind Vettel when the German driver posted the fastest lap on lap 17.
Then, two laps later, Perez went off track after being nudged by Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado — who was given a drivethrough penalty.
Hamilton took his first pit stop on lap 20, switching to soft tires, and Rosberg came in on 21 for a different strategy on the less quick but more resistant mediums. Vettel and Ricciardo pitted on 22, then Raikkonen.
With one third of the race completed, Vettel had a comfortable lead of 6 seconds over Raikkonen and 12 over Rosberg, while Hamilton was pushing hard behind Ricciardo.
Hamilton got past Ricciardo on lap 30 — at which point Rosberg was 15 seconds ahead of him but Hamilton was gaining time fast. Rosberg's team informed him: "We need to find time. Lewis is a second a lap quicker, most of that is from the tire but we do need to find more pace."
Everything changed following Hulkenberg's crash. Hulkenberg's car locked up and went off track into a crash barrier. The German driver was unhurt as his Force India car was towed away by a crane, while many drivers went straight into the pits for new tires.
Once they resumed racing, Vettel held firm, Rosberg surged ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's fading Ferrari, and Hamilton's hopes were ended as he made contact with Ricciardo and had to come in for a new front wing. The incident was investigated and Hamilton's misery was compounded when he was given a drivethrough penalty.
A contrite Hamilton said on radio: "I'm so sorry guys, really sorry."
Sensing victory, Rosberg was only 1.2 seconds behind Vettel with 10 laps to go. Five laps later, those hopes were dashed.
As it happened: 2015 Hungarian GP
2015 Hungarian GP results:1 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 1:46:09.985
2 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) RedBull - Renault +00:15.748
3 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) RedBull - Renault 00:25.084
4 Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Toro Rosso 00:44.251
5 Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 00:49.079
6 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 00:52.025
7 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 00:58.578
8 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 00:58.876
9 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 01:07.028
10 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber 01:09.130
11 Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber 01:13.458
12 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams 01:14.278
13 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 01:20.228
14 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus 01:25.142
15 Roberto Merhi (Spain) Marussia 2 laps
16 Will Stevens (Britain) Marussia 4 laps
Retired. Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso 9 laps
Ret. Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari
Ret. Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 16 laps
Ret. Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India 28 laps
Fastest Lap: Daniel Ricciardo, 1min24.821, lap 68.
(rank: Ret = retired, nc = not classified)
Driver and Constructor standings
1 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) Mercedes 202
2 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 181
3 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Ferrari 160
4 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Williams 77
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Ferrari 76
6 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams 74
7 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull 51
8 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Red Bull 45
9 Nico Huelkenberg (Germany) Force India 24
10 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 23
11 Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Toro Rosso 22
12 Felipe Nasr (Brazil) Sauber 16
13 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Force India 15
14 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Lotus 12
15 Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren 11
16 Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso 9
17 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 6
18 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber 6
19 Roberto Merhi (Spain) Marussia 0
20 Will Stevens (Britain) Marussia 0
1 Mercedes 383
2 Ferrari 236
3 Williams 151
4 RedBull 96
5 Force India 39
6 Lotus 35
7 Toro Rosso 31
8 Sauber 22
9 McLaren 17
10 Marussia 0
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 Hungarian GP weekend.