F1 2016: ten talking points from the Hungarian GP
Hamilton leads the standings as radio rules are condemned: all the weekend’s talk
Hamilton took the championship lead
Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian GP for the fifth time in his career after overtaking teammate Nico Rosberg in the first corner moments after lights out, and never surrendered the lead en route to the chequered flag at the Hungaroring.
But it wasn’t a straightforward race for Hamilton, who had to contend with constant pressure from the other Mercedes throughout, especially during a difficult second stint in which the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo closed to within touching distance.
However, Rosberg was unable to mount a real challenge for the lead on a track where overtaking is incredibly hard, giving Hamilton his fifth victory in six races.
The triple world champion now leads the drivers' championship for the first time this season, with a six-point cushion over his teammate in what will surely be another two-horse race for the title.Advertisement - Page continues below
Rosberg’s pole lap divided opinion
Although Hamilton’s first-corner pass rendered it irrelevant, the post-qualifying talk was dominated by the controversy surrounding the lap that put Nico Rosberg on pole in Q3.
Hamilton had looked set to prevail on the drying Hungaroring circuit, but was forced to abort his final flying lap after encountering the stricken McLaren of Fernando Alonso, whose spin had resulted in yellow flags.
However, the Spaniard was up and running again before Rosberg had reached that part of the track, allowing the German driver to set the quickest time of the session having lifted briefly under double yellows.
The stewards later decided that Rosberg had slowed sufficiently and that his lap time should stand, although not all of the drivers agreed. Unsurprisingly, Hamilton was among those who challenged the call...
Qualifying was full of red flags
The first session of quali is normally 18 minutes long, but Q1 lasted nearly a full hour on Saturday after a series of heavy showers and accidents on track.
Rain delayed the start of the session by 20 minutes, and was stopped for the first time just moments after it had started as conditions at the Hungaroring worsened.
Thereafter, proceedings only resumed for minutes at a time as crashes involving Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Massa and Rio Haryanto caused further delays.
The chaos ensured that virtually every driver topped the timesheet at one point or another thanks to the rapidly drying track surface.
Just imagine how impossible it would’ve been to follow if the ‘elimination’ format was still around...Advertisement - Page continues below
Raikkonen wasn’t happy with Verstappen
Kimi Raikkonen was the major casualty in Q2 after the Finn was caught out by the changing conditions, forcing him to start from 14th on the grid.
The Ferrari driver was able to fight back though, finding himself in yet another battle with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen following encounters at the Spanish and Austrian GPs.
Once again it was the teenager who prevailed to keep hold of fifth place, although the youngster was guilty of some debatable moves under braking to defend his position.
Kimi claimed that Verstappen illegally moved twice across the circuit on more than one occasion, with the 36-year-old’s front wing sustaining damage after one close call. Needless to say, he wasn’t happy about it.
F1’s radio rules are taking some heat
The rules dictating what information teams can give their drivers are being heavily criticised by those involved in the sport after further controversy in Hungary.
Jenson Button was penalised with a drive through penalty after his race engineer informed him of a setting change that would stop the 2009 champ’s brake pedal.
“When your brake pedal goes to the floor, I think of that as a safety concern,” the McLaren driver told Autosport afterwards. “I think it's a joke really. Stopping an incident should be praised, not penalised.”
It comes after Nico Rosberg was handed a retrospective 10-second penalty at the last race at Silverstone for being told to shift through seventh gear in order to prevent a gearbox failure, a decision Sebastian Vettel later condemned with an expletive.
No one wants to see excessive driver coaching, but do the current regulations go too far?
Jolyon Palmer missed a chance to score points
Pressure has been mounting on Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, with the 25-year old still hunting for the first points of his F1 career heading into the grand prix in Hungary.
That search goes on after a spin on lap 49 cost him what appeared to be a comfortable tenth place, with the Briton eventually coming home in 12th.
He said afterwards: “It was the best drive of my career today and just one small spin took away those points. I’m gutted.”
Kevin Magnussen’s future at Renault appears to be safe for now having scored their only points of the season with a 7th place finish in Russia, while 2015 GP3 champion Esteban Ocon is rumoured to be in contention to replace Palmer next season.
The rookie could really do with a good result soon to shore up his position with the Enstone team...
Kvyat still hasn’t beaten his teammate
Another driver whose future is in doubt is Daniil Kvyat, with the young Russian struggling for results since his demotion to Toro Rosso prior to the Spanish GP back in May.
Kvyat was a lowly 16th in Hungary, and has only scored two points following his surprise move from Red Bull to make way for Max Verstappen.
Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz has scored points in six of the seven races since, and the Spaniard will definitely be on the grid in 2017 after the team confirmed that his contract had been extended by 12 months.
With the likes of Pierre Gasly waiting in the wings in the Red Bull young driver programme, Kvyat will need a huge turn in form to keep his place next season.Advertisement - Page continues below
Was Hamilton rude towards Gutierrez?
In the latter stages of the race, Hamilton was held up by the Haas of Esteban Gutierrez, which allowed Nico Rosberg to close to within a second of the race leader.
When the world champion eventually found a way through on the straight he appeared to raise his middle finger in the Mexican’s direction, although he later dismissed it as merely a frustrated wave.
Gutierrez was later given a five-second penalty for ignoring blue flags – a violation which he denied – and said that Hamilton had been “disrespectful”.
Now, now, gentlemen.
Force India made a pit stop blunder
Prior to this weekend’s race, Red Bull were undeniably firm favourites for the ‘pit stop error of the year’ award following their calamity with Daniel Ricciardo at the Monaco GP, but Force India did their best to match them in Hungary.
Sergio Perez was told to box on lap 40, but lost a chunk of time after arriving at the garage with no tyres ready for him.
The former McLaren driver went on to finish outside the points, while Nico Hulkenberg secured tenth having been behind his teammate prior to the incident.
It later transpired that the pit wall crew had failed to inform the mechanics that their man was coming in after telling Perez to come in for fresh rubber. Oops.Advertisement - Page continues below
Haryanto’s Manor future remains uncertain
A couple of weeks ago it looked like Rio Haryanto had secured his seat at Manor for the remainder of the season after reportedly finding the necessary funds to pay for his drive, but now there’s speculation he might not survive beyond the summer break.
The Indonesian driver’s original sponsorship only had him covered until the end of the weekend’s race, and so far no new deals have been confirmed to keep him in the team.
With only a week separating events at the Hungaroring and Hockenheim, Manor has said that it may give Haryanto special dispensation to drive without the necessary finances in place.
Beyond that though, the team could be forced to look elsewhere for the second half of the season if Haryanto fails to bring in enough money.
If only F1 could produce enough revenue to sustain eleven whole teams...