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Formula One

What We Learned from the Hungarian Grand Prix 2017

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The Big Picture:  In 1986, Bernie Ecclestone made history when he and the Hungarian government began the Hungarian Grand Prix. Just 30 years prior, Soviet tanks invaded the country because a democratic government had been elected. Just five years after, the Soviet Union and Communism fell, and auto racing was finally acceptable in former Iron Curtain countries.

The Event:  Hungarians love to cook and to celebrate, so a Grand Prix in Budapest is a good enough reason to do both. Finns love to attend this race, so it was great for the crowd to see two Finnish drivers on the podium.

In Our Last Episode:  It was one for the ages two weeks ago at Silverstone when Briton Lewis Hamilton won his fifth British Grand Prix and a grand slam.

Qualifying:  Ferrari was fast all weekend, so their drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen were easily able to take pole and the other front row place.

Start:  Having watched both this race and the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio back to back, it was stunning to see how the Indy Car drivers were able to make it through the opening laps with no crashes while this one had two on Lap 1. Max Verstappen won the Worst Teammate of the Day award by crashing into fellow Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo, putting the Australian out of the race. The second crash was Romain Grosjean ultimately taking out Nico Hulkenberg.

Race: Ferrari won what was essentially another F1 parade in Budapest. We were told that Vettel was having steering problems during the contest, but even though he had inconsistent lap times, we didn’t see it. It was a Ferrari one-two and a Mercedes three-four. Got that? Not much of a race in our humble opinion.

Best Team:  Only because they were fast, Ferrari was the best team.

What We Will Remember:  Hungaroring still has parade “racing.” This was the race where McLaren strikes back! Both drivers finished in the points. Honda is no longer the bad guy, and Fernando Alonzo an idiot for driving for them. Lewis Hamilton is a class act. When he couldn’t overtake Ferrari as asked, he graciously gave his third-place spot back to his teammate Valtteri Bottas. This wins Hamilton Teammate of the Day.

Quote of the Weekend: “Everybody inside the team can be very happy and proud of what we have done today! Afterwards, I said to Kimi that I was sorry, because I was slow and struggling during the race. For Kimi it was not good to be there in the middle of a sandwich. It was a tough race that, in the end, kept a good shape. I developed a problem with the steering wheel and I don’t know why yet. We need to avoid it happening again of course, but during the race I didn’t have an option. It’s not like parking the car, check if everything’s all right and then fix the problem. It was quite annoying because it was a strange feeling. But then, at some point, I forgot about it and just tried to get used to it, which was tricky because it just kept changing and getting worse. However, in the end the pace was still there. More generally, I don’t like the short-term view that some people have, that after a good race everything is great and you are the hero, but after a bad race it is a disaster. It is not fair because people work hard spending a lot of time, working all together on the car. In my opinion, we have the best car and downforce which, hasn’t been the case for many years. In the end we can make a difference and we have done that so far. We have our testing days here next week and we have a lot of work to do. After that there will be the Belgian GP. Our car has been good there and I think we have some improvements, so it should be fine.” Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari driver

Runner-up Quote of the Weekend: “It was really tricky today. The pace was not so much a problem. But once you get within 1.5 seconds to the car in front of you it becomes so difficult to close the gap. And that track position was a big benefit for Ferrari today. Even though Sebastian was struggling, no-one could pass him. We tried as a team to swap positions, but Lewis couldn’t get past them either. We didn’t gain any points but I’m glad we tried it. I was promised that Lewis would let me back if it didn’t work out. I was struggling with the back markers so the gap to Lewis became bigger than I wanted. But Lewis and the team kept their promise and we swapped positions back in the last lap. I don’t think every team-mate would do that in a championship fight, so I think that was really nice of him and it shows that he is a real team player. Our situations still is not too bad with regards to the points and the championship standing. Lewis and me are still in the fight.” Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes driver

Schedule:  Every driver’s dream track at Spa-Francorchamps, the Belgian Grand Prix is in ONE MONTH. On August 27th. What kind of demented fool puts a one-month break into a racing schedule? Wait, don’t answer that.

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of, its owners, management, or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Lisa Davidson

Lisa Davidson is a graduate of the University of Arizona and spent her corporate career as a Controller. She is a lifelong writer who has been covering open wheel racing since 2000 and is the author of historical articles and co-author of one book She and her husband, photographer Jeff Davidson, have two daughters and make their home in Murrieta, CA.