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Vettel overcomes steering problem to win #HungarianGP

2017-07-30 16:05

Image: AP / Darko Bandic

Budapest -  Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel overcame steering difficulties to win a tense Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday and extend his championship lead over rival Lewis Hamilton heading into the summer break.

The four-time Formula 1 champion made a decent start from pole position, crucially holding off teammate Kimi Raikkonen on the long straight into Turn 1. On a Hungaroring track where overtaking is notoriously hard, there were limited chances to catch him after that.

As it happened: Hungarian GP

But Vettel was hampered by a steering issue for more than half the race, allowing the Mercedes cars to close the gap on him and Raikkonen — who in turn was being slowed down by Vettel.

But Vettel held on for his 46th career win, while Raikkonen expertly defended his position for a Ferrari 1-2.

Raikkonen used all of his experience to fend off Hamilton, who eventually finished fourth behind Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas.

Earlier, Bottas had let Hamilton past in order to attack the Ferraris. Hamilton then sportingly gave him third place back right at the end.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen was fifth after knocking out his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo of the race on the first lap.

Ricciardo's race was over after the contact on Turn 2, bringing the safety car out for a few laps as his car was towed off the track.

Verstappen was the perpetrator - swerving into his teammate when going wide on the exit from a turn.

"Was that who I think it was?" a stunned Ricciardo said over his team radio seconds after being hit.

It was a big blow for Ricciardo, who had secured five podium finishes in the previous six races. As he watched replays of the incident in his team garage, Ricciardo looked stone-faced when he saw confirmation that it was his own teammate who was responsible.

"That was amateur to say the least," Ricciardo told broadcaster Sky Sports afterward.

Verstappen was given a 10-second time penalty for the incident, helping Hamilton's cause.

But Raikkonen's wily driving never gave him a real chance.

Hamilton had written off his chances of victory after qualifying, saying it would be an "easy breeze" for Ferrari on the tight and twisty 4.4-kilometer (2.7-mile) circuit nestled in the hills surrounding Budapest. Only the sinewy street circuit of Monaco is tougher to overtake on.

Even before the race had started, Hamilton sounded extremely anxious as he spoke on the grid about overheating in his rear tires.

In the end, it was Ferrari sweating in the hot Hungarian sun.

Ferrari faced an awkward dilemma as the race wound down with Vettel leading but under instruction to avoid contact with the kerbs because of his steering problems. The result was that Vettel was slowing down Raikkonen just behind him.

"The Mercedes are catching," a worried Raikkonen said over his radio.

Bottas let Hamilton past him, on the condition that he would give the position back if he couldn't get a clean shot at Raikkonen.

With 18 laps left, Hamilton was told he had "five laps" — or about seven minutes — to catch Raikkonen.

"No pressure, then." Hamilton replied. The team then gave him another five laps. It wasn't enough.

F1 drivers' championship: 

Vettel 202
Hamilton 188
Bottas 169
Ricciardo 117
Raikkonen 116
Verstappen 67
Perez 56
Ocon 45
Sainz 35

F1 constructors' championship:

Mercedes 357
Ferrari 318
Red Bull 184
F India 101
Williams 41
STR 39
Haas 29
Renault 26
McLaren 11
Sauber 5

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