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Marko tips Vettel to beat Hamilton to F1 world title

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Red Bull Formula 1 advisor Helmut Marko has backed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to come back stronger from the sport’s summer break and beat Lewis Hamilton to this year’s drivers’ championship.

Marko played an instrumental part in Vettel’s rise to F1 under Red Bull’s umbrella, the German winning four straight drivers’ titles between 2010 and 2013 for the team ahead of his move to Ferrari.

Vettel has claimed four wins through the opening 11 races of the year to sit 14 points clear of Mercedes’ Hamilton in the standings heading into the second leg of the season, starting in Belgium next week.

Speaking to the official F1 website, Marko praised Vettel’s mentality when battling for a championship, backing him to take a fifth title in 2017.

“I believe in Vettel, because I know his mental strength, and Ferrari has raised its game,” Marko said.

“Silverstone, I would say, was an exception. Ferrari was clearly the stronger car in the first half of the season and only due to various circumstances could they not materialize all their chances.

“We have been 60 points behind before the summer break, and still won the title with him. Seb will use this summer break to come back even stronger. That’s how I know him.”

Vettel’s most impressive title comeback came in 2012 when he reversed a 42-point deficit to Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso heading into the summer break to take the title at the final round in Brazil.

Arrivabene: Hungary F1 win proved Ferrari’s strength of character

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Ferrari Formula 1 chief Maurizio Arrivabene felt the Italian marque’s victory in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix proved its strength of character after soaking up the pressure from rival team Mercedes.

Sebastian Vettel nursed his car to victory despite struggling with a handling issue for much of the race, causing him to slow and come under pressure from teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel held on to head up a one-two finish for Ferrari, marking its first victory in two months and extending the German’s lead at the top of the drivers’ championship heading into the summer break.

Team principal Arrivabene was full of praise for both drivers speaking after the race, believing the victory against the odds was a reflection of Ferrari’s DNA.

“A great race and a result obtained in far from easy circumstances,” Arrivabene said of the race win.

“Once again it demonstrated the strength of character at Ferrari. Congratulations to the guys here and back in Maranello, working together in what is the mark of a great team.

“Seb drove a magnificent race, managing to keep the lead despite the problem with the steering wheel. He was helped by a great performance from Kimi who demonstrated, not only that he is a champion, but also that he is a true team-player.”

The performance from Raikkonen appears to have boosted his chances of keeping his Ferrari race seat for 2018, with CEO Sergio Marchionne being quoted in Hungary as saying the Finn’s odds of being retained were better than 50 per cent.

Vettel tops Hungary day two test as Norris, Kubica star

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Perhaps unfortunately for Sebastian Vettel, his leading the timesheets on Wednesday in the second day of the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test wasn’t the biggest story of the day.

The Formula 1 points leader, Hungary winner and Scuderia Ferrari driver ended with a best time of 1:17.124 after 40 laps of running.

He and teammate Kimi Raikkonen split duties – Raikkonen did 60 laps – in the day after Charles Leclerc led the timesheets aboard the same SF-17 chassis.

Behind Vettel it was the first of two other stars on the day who was next up. British teenager Lando Norris took like a duck to water to the McLaren Honda chassis and in 91 laps, ended second with a best time of 1:17.385.

The McLaren was well suited to the Hungaroring circuit in Budapest and Norris made sure to maximize his opportunity in his first proper day of Formula 1 running.

Probably the biggest headline generating driver of the day was Robert Kubica, the Pole back in a modern Formula 1 car for the first time since his rally accident nearly cost him not just his career, but his life in 2011.

Driving the Renault R.S.17, Kubica completed 142 laps and ended fourth with a best time of 1:18.572. The lap count was second only to Luca Ghiotto of Williams, the Italian driver having run 161 laps.

Elsewhere Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat split running at Toro Rosso, youngsters Lucas Auer and Nikita Mazepin did the same at Force India, Ghiotto ran for Williams, Nobuharo Matsushita took over at Sauber, Pierre Gasly ran for Red Bull and George Russell (Mercedes) and Santino Ferrucci (Haas) continued with their teams for a second day.

Times are below, and with this test in the books, the F1 summer break finally begins.

Vettel ‘over the moon’ with hard-fought Hungarian GP win

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Sebastian Vettel was “over the moon” to win Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix despite struggling with a handling issue for much of the race, extending his Formula 1 championship lead.

Vettel had to nurse his car for much of the race, holding on for his fourth win of the year despite coming under significant pressure from Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen and Mercedes title rival Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel made no secret of the challenge he faced when talking on the podium after the race, admitting it was a struggle to keep the car under control.

“I’m over the moon, it was a really difficult race. Maybe it didn’t look like it, but I had my hands full from three or four laps after the safety car,” Vettel said.

“There was something wrong, I don’t know why the steering started to go, and it seemed to get worse. Then I stayed off the kerbs and tried to save the car. It wasn’t easy. I didn’t do a favor to Kimi, obviously I couldn’t go faster, I didn’t have the pace.

“But towards the end it did come back a bit. I had a couple of laps where I had a bit of a cushion and could breathe a bit. I really had to stay focused the whole race.

“I was hoping for a couple of laps to breathe but they didn’t come. So a bit tough, but a great result, a great day. Thank you for the support. It was really great.”

Explaining the issue, Vettel said: “It’s a weird feeling. It was tilted to the left, so you go down the straights and the steering isn’t straight. In right-handers it’s sort of OK, but in left-handers you have to get used to it.

“After a couple of laps it’s OK, but it keeps changing all the time because you have to go further than you want, and then you think in your head.

“Not ideal, but it doesn’t matter. A big thank you to the team after a great race.”

Vettel heads into the F1 summer break leading Hamilton by 14 points at the top of the drivers’ championship.

Vettel holds on for Hungary F1 victory despite handling issue

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Sebastian Vettel extended his Formula 1 drivers’ championship lead with a hard-fought victory in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix, nursing a handling issue through the majority of the race to lead Ferrari to a one-two finish.

Vettel fended off a stiff challenge from Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen and championship rival Lewis Hamilton through the closing stages to take his fourth win of the season, snapping a two-month victory drought for the Italian marque.

However, it was not without contention as Raikkonen was left frustrated by Ferrari’s tactics, having felt he had the pace to pass Vettel and take his first win since Australia 2013.

Vettel made a clean start from pole to retain his lead from Raikkonen despite the Finn’s advances around the outside of Turn 1, while Hamilton slipped back into the clutches of the Red Bull duo of  Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo.

As the pair jostled for position, a lock-up for Verstappen caused him to run straight into Ricciardo, putting the Australian into a spin and out of the race. Ricciardo vented his frustration over team radio, saying: “If that’s who I think it was…” Verstappen was quickly hit with a 10-second time penalty for his involvement in the clash.

Vettel and Raikkonen were able to perfect the restart on Lap 6 to pull away from the chasing pack, quickly forging a healthy advantage over Valtteri Bottas, who ran third for Mercedes ahead of Verstappen and Hamilton through the early part of the race.

Vettel was able to retain his advantage over Raikkonen through to the first round of pit stops, albeit with a reduce gap when the German was hit with a minor steering issue, causing his pace to drop marginally.

Mercedes moved to put pressure on Ferrari at the front by pitting Bottas early in a bid to get the undercut, the Finn swapping to the soft compound tire at the end of Lap 30.

Ferrari waited two laps before bringing Vettel in from the lead of the race in order to curb the threat from Bottas, with Raikkonen coming in soon after. Raikkonen was able to cut the gap to Vettel marginally through the stop, but now had Bottas less than four seconds behind, Ferrari’s position was far from secure.

Bottas and Hamilton began to make serious inroads on Vettel and Raikkonen as the former’s handling problems continued, with five seconds covering the quarter as the race passed half-distance. Vettel was told to avoiding heavy kerbing in order to avoid making the issue worse, leaving Raikkonen frustrated all-the-while as his mirrors became filled with the silver cars.

Hamilton began to up his pace, telling the Mercedes pit wall that he needed the opportunity to try and catch the Ferraris at the front of the pack. The Briton was waved past Bottas in third, agreeing he would let his teammate re-take the position if he couldn’t pass the Ferraris ahead.

Hamilton wasted little time in catching Raikkonen, crawling all over the rear of the Ferrari. Raikkonen was left to play rear-gunner for Vettel, who was still unable to escape as he stayed off all of the kerbs in order to avoid making the problem worse.

Raikkonen told Ferrari that he felt uncomfortable holding station and not making an effort to try and catch Vettel, prompting the Finn to up his pace and get to within DRS range of Vettel. Hamilton was able to tag along, setting up a close chase between the trio heading into the final 15 laps.

Hamilton’s car soon began to overheat while running in Raikkonen’s dirty air, prompting him to drop back on multipe occasions before closing once again. As the laps ticked down, Vettel was able to slowly up his pace and open up a gap to Raikkonen, creating some breathing room.

Vettel ultimately crossed the line nine-tenths of a second clear of Ferrari to extend his championship lead and enter the summer break on a high, heading up a one-two finish for the Prancing Horse.

Despite taking his penalty during his pit stop, Verstappen was able to close up on Bottas through the closing stages, putting pressure on Mercedes as it considered swapping positions back.

Hamilton honored the deal and let Bottas past at the line, giving the Finn third place. Hamilton edged just three-tenths ahead of Verstappen in fourth. The points gap stands at 14 points heading into the summer break.

McLaren charged to its best result of the year as Fernando Alonso defeated Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz Jr. in a close battle to finish sixth, with teammate Stoffel Vandoorne picking up his first point of the year in P10. The result lifts McLaren to ninth in the constructors’ championship ahead of Sauber.

Force India continued its solid season by taking another double-points finish with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon in P8 and P9, capitalizing on a no-score for Williams.

Kevin Magnussen narrowly missed out on points for Haas, finishing 11th, while teammate Romain Grosjean retired early after being released from the pits in an unsafe manner.

Daniil Kvyat took P12 for Toro Rosso ahead of Renault’s Jolyon Palmer, while Lance Stroll was 14th for Williams ahead of the Sauber pair of Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson.

Nico Hulkenberg retired late on for Renault, as did Paul di Resta, whose F1 comeback saw him be forced to park it in the garage with 10 laps remaining.

F1 now embarks on its summer break, returning with the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August.

HUNGARIAN GP RACE RESULT