Alpine‘s Esteban Ocon has claimed his first-ever F1 victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix, in what was one of the most exciting races of the season so far.
A wet start to the event saw five drivers — Valterri Bottas, Lando Norris, Sergio Perez, Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc — eliminated due to collision. Bottas locked up and took Norris and Perez out, while Stroll also locked up and collided with Leclerc, forcing all five cars into retirement and bringing out the red flag. McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo was also involved in the early chaos but managed to continue racing.
Polesitter Lewis Hamilton stayed on intermediate tires while the rest of the field pitted for mediums before the race restart. The move proved costly as Hamilton dropped to the back of the pack after having to pit only a lap later. This allowed Ocon to surge to a lead that he’d hold for almost the entire 70 laps of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Ocon vs Vettel
The 24-year-old held off fierce battles against seasoned veteran Sebastian Vettel, but came out on top. Vettel acknowledged during the post-race interviews that he’d done his best to push the young Frenchman into errors, but Ocon kept his cool to bring the shock victory home. “I felt I was a little bit faster for the majority of the race but Esteban didn’t do a single mistake and I didn’t really get close enough,” Vettel said. “It’s not an easy track to overtake so I really pushed very, very hard but he stayed on track and well deserved for him to celebrate his first victory.”
Hamilton on the other hand fought hard for a comeback, with Mercedes employing a two-stop strategy. The Briton took on a fierce battle with fellow veteran Fernando Alonso, but managed to best the Spaniard in the closing stages. By the end of the race, Hamilton was closing in on Vettel, but had to settle for third place.
More drama ensued after the race, however, as Vettel was ultimately disqualified for a fuel infringement. Under Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile‘s (FIA) technical regulations, competitors must ensure that a fuel sample of 1 litre may be taken from the car at any point of the race. According to officials, it was only possible to draw 0.3 litres from Vettel’s Aston Martin after the race, leading to his disqualification from the event. Aston Martin has decided to appeal the decision.
On Twitter the team said: “The 18 points loss is disappointing for the team, but it doesn’t take away from an otherwise flawless drive from Sebastian. Today we showed that our car has strong race pace. Onwards and upwards.”
Vettel’s disqualification sees Hamilton slip into the second spot and Ferrari‘s Carlos Sainz claim the third position.
The result of the Hungarian Grand Prix moves Hamilton into an eight-point lead for the 2021 Formula One Drivers World Championship, with 192 points. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who finished 10th at the Hungaroring with 1 point, slips to the number two spot with 186 points.
The 2021 F1 season resumes after a four-week break on 29 August, at the Belgian Grand Prix.
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