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The Hungarian GP was the wildest race yet of Formula One’s 2021 season

Ocon’s masterful victory and Hamilton’s herculean recovery drive. Plus: MASSIVE CRASH

Published: 02 Aug 2021

There are probably many words to describe the events of the 2021 Hungarian GP, but in the aftermath of victory, none came to winner Esteban Ocon. “I don’t know what to write I’m lost for words,” the Frenchman wrote on Twitter after winning his first Formula One race.

That’s right, Alpine took the top spot at the Hungarian GP, with – at least at the time of the podium – the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel. An exhausted and battle-wearied Lewis Hamilton finished third, which really doesn’t tell you anything about the wildest race of the year so far. Hamilton’s teammate Bottas was the catalyst.

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The defending world champion got a great start off the line, but Bottas very much did not, slipping back a few places before the first corner. He then misjudged his braking point and went sliding straight into the back of McLaren’s Lando Norris, which sent Norris straight into Hamilton’s title rival Max Verstappen. Bottas took out Sergio Perez too.

Aston driver Lance Stroll also made a mistake, smashing into Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, which then careered into Ricciardo’s McLaren. All this in the space of one corner. The race, unsurprisingly, was red-flagged. On the restart the track had dried considerably, and on the formation lap every single driver bar Hamilton dived into the pits at the last moment to change for slicks.

Which made for one of the oddest sights yet seen: a lone Hamilton on the starting line, with the rest of the grid lined up in the pits. From first, he’d end up 14th – and last – at the end of the first lap because he too needed to pit for slicks, and from there it was another Hamilton masterclass. He stormed through the field, taking place after place, until he caught Fernando Alonso. You may have heard of him.

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, Hungarian GP 2021

For 10 laps we were treated to a masterful display of defensive driving from the two-time world champion as he held off a charging Lewis Hamilton, and crucially, prevented him from closing up to Ocon in the lead too quickly. Hamilton eventually passed him after Alonso locked-up. Hamilton later said he enjoyed the battle. Alonso said Hamilton should have passed him sooner. Ouch.

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Up front? Esteban Ocon, who as recently as 2019 was a reserve driver in F1, casually held off four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel for pretty much the entire race. The pressure of having Seb only a second or so behind, and the closing threat of Hamilton must have been immense. You’d never have guessed it from the way Ocon delivered that win.

In the aftermath the stewards found that Vettel didn’t have enough fuel in his car so was – very unfortunately – disqualified. It pushed the rest of the field up one place, meaning Hamilton heads into the summer break leading Verstappen by eight points. His title rival had a low-key race, having taken damage in that first corner and unable to make headway. He ended up 9th after Vettel's disqualification.

What a race, eh? Let us know what your half-term reports look like for F1 below...

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