On-again/off-again F1 World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari made the best of a mediocre hand at last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, after qualifying in fourth behind Mercedes-AMG rivals Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas, and his own teammate, Kimi Räikkönen. Within a few turns after the green flag dropped on Sunday, Vettel had slipped past Räikkönen to take third, running Pirelli’s less-grippy Soft tires while the other frontrunners ran Ultrasofts. He ran a steady race for the next 39 laps, passing Bottas when the Mercedes driver pitted for fresh rubber on lap 16, and passing Hamilton when the F1 championship leader pitted 10 laps later.
Finally, Vettel had gotten as much mileage as he could out of his Pirelli Soft tires, but his pit stop ran a bit long as the crew struggled with the front-right tire, meaning he had to watch as first Hamilton, and then Bottas, drove past pit lane to force the German driver back to third place. After 15 frustrating laps, as Vettel tried – and failed – to find a way past Bottas, Hamilton amassed an even greater lead. When Vettel finally did get past on lap 65, it was too late; Hamilton couldn’t be caught.
As Vettel battled with Bottas for position, Räikkönen caught up to his teammate, putting him in the right place to slip past Bottas after Vettel did. It didn’t hurt that Vettel and Bottas had made brief contact, damaging Bottas’ front wing and reducing his car’s downforce.
With Vettel’s second-place finish and Räikkönen’s third, Lewis Hamilton has extended his lead over Sebastian Vettel in the Formula One World Championship, and Mercedes has extended its lead in the Constructors’ standings over Scuderia Ferrari. The series is now on break for the summer before returning with the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in late-August.