Hungarian GP Paddock Notebook – Sunday

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In a season that has been dominated by one team, we have enjoyed a surprising number of breakout drives from those not behind the wheel of a Mercedes. The likes of Valtteri Bottas and Jules Bianchi have been impressive, but perhaps no-one has out-performed more than Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

The amiable Australian claimed his second win of the season today in sensational fashion, out-thinking and quite simply out-racing Mercedes to beat the Silver Arrows in the dry and bust the myth that doing so was impossible.

Once again, Formula 1 produced a thriller right when we needed it. Here’s the final round-up from the paddock at the Hungaroring.

RACE REPORT

  • A bit of rain, two safety car periods and some awesome racing – today’s race had it all. However, Dan was the man who took to the top step of the podium following a supreme display.

NEWS FROM THE PADDOCK

THOUGHTS FROM THE TRACK

It’s quite ironic that one day after we find out Flavio Briatore has been tasked with ‘improving the show’ in Formula 1, we get treated to one of the most exciting races of the year.

The same thing happened in Bahrain. Luca di Montezemolo rocked up, moaned about “taxi cab racing”, then made a swift departure when the taxis put on a show under the lights.

So once again, we must ask just what needs fixing in Formula 1? Isn’t it acceptable that sometimes races just aren’t that great? In soccer, you get the occasional 0-0 draw; in football, there are boring games; in tennis, you get a straights set victory. Sport isn’t always going to blow fans away, but when it does – case in point, today – it is phenomenal.

Firstly, many congratulations to Daniel Ricciardo for a superb victory. Red Bull beat Mercedes in the dry thanks to some supreme driving, a bit of luck and some panic for the Silver Arrows. The strategies that Hamilton and Rosberg used were questionable, as was the call for Lewis to let Nico past. Both drove well, but frankly the team should have done better. This is the first time in 2014 that a Mercedes car has finished a race and not been on the podium.

Not only did Ricciardo put a spanner in the Mercedes works, but Fernando Alonso produced another monumental drive for Ferrari. One comment on Twitter said that he could probably drive a washing machine to the podium, and it’s true. He made his soft tires last far, far longer than they had any right to. Had Dan not found another gear, it might have been a first win for Ferrari since Spain 2013. Ultimately, second place is still a superb result, and importantly, it takes the team back above Williams in the constructors’ championship.

As incredible as Hamilton’s drive was, he wasn’t the only one to fight through the field. Kimi Raikkonen started down in 16th and came home sixth for Ferrari, his best result of the year so far. It may not be too groundbreaking, but it is progress nevertheless.

Elsewhere, Sebastian Vettel had a very quiet race. Following the first safety car period, he didn’t appear much in the race save for his spin that he somehow kept out of the wall. His expectations of fighting with Williams were true, although I doubt he thought it would be for positions out of the top five. Felipe Massa came home in fifth for the British team with Valtteri Bottas in eighth.

What a way to sign off for the summer break. Formula 1 now gets a chance to breathe and take a few weeks back before starting the final stint. From Spa, we have eight races in fourteen weeks, then that’s it – 2015 will be upon us before you know it.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.