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Sebastian Vettel wins tense Hungarian GP

HUNGARORING -- Sebastian Vettel claimed Ferrari's first win since May after holding firm under late pressure to win the Hungarian Grand Prix, a victory aided by teammate Kimi Raikkonen holding off a late charge from Lewis Hamilton.

Ferrari looked to have the race under control in the opening stint, but a steering problem on Vettel's car put Raikkonen under pressure as the lead Ferrari backed his teammate into the Mercedes drivers. With Hamilton quicker than Valtteri Bottas but bottled up behind his teammate, the Mercedes pit wall decided to swap its drivers and let Hamilton attack Raikkonen in the final 20 laps.

Sebastian Vettel claimed Ferrari's first win
since May after holding firm under late
pressure to win the Hungarian Grand Prix
Although he was annoyed with by his strategy, which saw him pit earlier than he wanted to, Raikkonen held Hamilton off for second position. In the final corner the Mercedes driver honoured his promise to reverse the earlier swap of drivers by slowing down to let Bottas through for third.

Max Verstappen finished fifth after being penalised ten seconds at his pit stop for clashing with Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo at the second corner. The accident saw Verstappen's front wing pierce Ricciardo's left radiator, spraying fluid over the left-hand side of the car and forcing him into a spin. Ricciardo retired on the spot while Verstappen pushed hard to finish 0.4s behind Hamilton in fifth.

Fernando Alonso claimed a popular sixth position for McLaren -- it's strongest finish of 2017 so far -- ahead of Carlos Sainz who he had to pass for position after his pit stop. The two Force Indias finished eighth and ninth ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne, who scored his first point of the season in the second McLaren.

How the race unfolded

Vettel made a strong start from pole position as Raikkonen dutifully filtered into second place to maintain Ferrari's hold on the top two positions into Turn 1. One row back, Bottas and Hamilton came under attack from Ricciardo and Verstappen and the Red Bulls both found a way past Hamilton into the first corner. Ricciardo was fourth as he exited Turn 1 but he had the outside line into Turn 2 while his teammate attacked on the inside. Unable to slow his car in time for the apex, Verstappen locked up and ploughed into the side of Ricciardo, leading the Australian to later label his teammate an "amateur".

Ricciardo limped round Turn 3 but as he got on the power on the run to Turn 4, coolant sprayed from his punctured sidepod and he spun directly in front of the chasing pack. Remarkably, all 15 cars managed to find a way past the Red Bull without smashing into it but the incident immediately prompted a safety car, putting a halt to the racing for six laps. Ricciardo came on the radio to say "If that's who I think it was..." before an expletive-laden follow up when his engineer confirmed the identity of Verstappen.

When racing resumed on lap six, Vettel appeared to be in full control and quickly built a three-second buffer to Raikkonen in second. Bottas was unable to match the pace of the Ferraris but pulled away from an emerging battle between Verstappen in fourth and Hamilton in fifth. It looked as though Hamilton would have to make a pass on the track but when the stewards issued Verstappen with a ten-second time penalty for his collision with Ricciardo, the Mercedes driver backed off the pace safe in the knowledge that he would get an opportunity to leap frog the Red Bull in the pit stops.

The first signs of Vettel's problem started to emerge around lap 25 when he notified the team of his off-centre steering over the radio and his pace dropped. Vettel was told to avoid the kerbs so as not to damage the car further and Raikkonen, sensing a shot at victory, closed in. Mercedes pulled its drivers into the pits on lap 30 and 31, upping the pressure on Ferrari, before Vettel pitted from the lead on lap 32. Raikkonen, who had been nursing his tyres, felt he had a shot at an overcut, but was only given one lap to try to make the difference to Vettel before Ferrari pitted him on lap 33.

Raikkonen emerged directly behind his teammate as he exited the pits and immediately radioed the team saying "I had the speed to stay out". It was the first of a series of angry radio messages from car 7 as Mercedes started to take advantage of Vettel's slow pace and close on Raikkonen. Less than five seconds covered Vettel, Raikkonen, Bottas and Hamilton on lap 40, and Raikkonen felt as though he had been dropped in the middle of an unnecessarily tight fight. "You've put me under massive pressure from Mercedes for no reason," he said, not knowing that his second place was about to come under even greater threat in the next few laps.

Hamilton -- running as the second of the two Mercedes -- was also becoming frustrated and after 40 laps of radio silence due to a technical issue, a connection between car 44 and the pit wall was finally re-established. "I've got a lot of pace, let me use this," Hamilton told his race engineer on lap 44 and two laps later Bottas moved aside at Turn 1 to let Hamilton through. The swap was made on the understanding that the positions would be reversed if Hamilton failed to pass Raikkonen and Bottas quickly dropped off the pace once Hamilton was ahead.

This made Raikkonen even more irate and he radioed again to say "I had the speed [to get ahead of Vettel], this shouldn't be happening". Although Hamilton quickly closed to within 1.5s of Raikkonen, he struggled to get within 1.0s and benefit from the DRS overtaking device. Mercedes extended the length of the swap from five laps to ten, but still Hamilton could not pass and on the final lap he started to slow in order to return the favour to his teammate. By that time Verstappen had closed to within a second of Bottas, but Hamilton played the situation perfectly, allowing Bottas to slip up the inside at the final corner and take the position.

Meanwhile, Vettel had managed to nurse his car to victory five seconds up the road, and with it he extended his lead over Hamilton in the drivers' standings to 14 points. Bottas closed to within 19 points of Hamilton, setting up a tightly poised battle for the championship when racing resumes at Spa-Francorchamps after F1's summer break.

Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/20199429/sebastian-vettel-wins-tense-hungarian-gp

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