Ricciardo rockets to sensational Hungarian GP victory

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Daniel Ricciardo has won a breathtaking Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, battling through with a perfect strategy following rain and two safety car periods.

The Australian claimed the second Formula 1 win of his career in sensational style, battling past both Hamilton and Alonso in the final five laps of the race on fresher tires as a dud strategy forced Rosberg to settle for fourth place.

Having started from the pit lane, Hamilton produced a superb drive to battle through to P3, but has some explaining to do after repeatedly ignoring Mercedes’ calls to allow Rosberg past during the race.

A sharp rain shower hit the Hungaroring one hour before the race, forcing the drivers to start  on intermediate tires for the first time since the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix. Pole-sitter Rosberg managed to make a good start and hang onto his lead as Bottas swung around the outside of Vettel at turn one to move into second place.

Lewis Hamilton’s race took a turn for the worse following his pit lane start when he hit the wall at turn two, although he did manage to keep the Mercedes going despite suffering damage to his front wing. He was soon picking up positions as though nothing had happened, but at the front, Rosberg continued to open up his lead over the field.

This was wiped out when Marcus Ericsson crashed hard at turn four on lap eight, bringing out the safety car, allowing a number of drivers to pit for fresh tires, with some – including Hamilton – risking slicks. The front four cars all pitted one lap later, and lost time as a result, handing the lead of the race to Daniel Ricciardo with Jenson Button – one of the few to fit more intermediates – in second place ahead of Felipe Massa.

The race got back underway on lap fourteen, having also accommodated for Romain Grosjean’s spin into the wall. On the intermediate tires, Button managed to get past Ricciardo and take the lead of the race as Kevin Magnussen passed Rosberg. With more rain looking less likely, McLaren told its drivers to push while they still could, but as the track dried out they had to pit just two laps after the restart for slicks.

Hamilton made a great restart, and found himself right behind Rosberg on lap fifteen having trailed by over thirty seconds before the safety car. The Briton struggled to pass Vettel for sixth place, but with fourth-placed Jean-Eric Vergne holding up Rosberg ahead, the Silver Arrows were separated by less than two seconds at one-third race distance. Ricciardo set about increasing his lead at the front over Felipe Massa, posting a series of fastest laps as the Brazilian came under pressure from Fernando Alonso.

However, Ricciardo lost his lead when the safety car came out for a second time following a huge shunt for Sergio Perez on the pit straight. The Force India ran wide and spun into the wall, bringing an end to his race. Ricciardo and Massa took to the pits, handing the lead to Alonso in the Ferrari ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne.

On the restart, Hamilton continued to hound Vettel for position as Rosberg closed on Vergne, but the championship leader opted to pit and avoid losing too much more time. Just as he did, Vettel nearly binned his Red Bull in the wall, spinning 360º and handing the position to both Hamilton and Ricciardo. The Briton stayed out, passing Vergne around the outside of turn four before the Toro Rosso driver pitted for fresh tires.

Hamilton moved into the lead of the race when Alonso stopped as Rosberg picked his way through the traffic. The Briton split the two drivers when he came out of the pits. and duly set about opening up a gap to his teammate. Rosberg managed to reel Lewis in on the option tire, but on primes, Hamilton was set to go to the end of the race without stopping again.

The Briton was told not to put any fight up to Rosberg, but did not let him past, causing Rosberg to ask why he was not being allowed through. Hamilton was told for a second time, only to go faster than Rosberg still. The German asked his team again, and was told that Lewis had been given the message.

At the front, Ricciardo started to complain of rear tire wear, so was brought into the pits on lap 54 thus handing the lead to Alonso. Ricciardo’s task was now to use the fresh option tires to catch the squabbling Mercedes drivers who were four seconds up the road.

The team bailed on Rosberg two laps later, bringing the German driver into the pits for a fresh set of option tires. He emerged in seventh place behind Kimi Raikkonen, and appeared to have waved goodbye to all hopes of winning the race.

Hamilton, on the other hand, kept pushing to reel in Alonso, but had to keep an eye on his mirrors as Ricciardo continued to charge on fresh option tires. The Red Bull driver was soon within DRS range, as was Lewis to Alonso – less than one second separated all three drivers with six laps to go.

Ricciardo tried a move on Hamilton at turn two on lap 65, but ran wide, giving the Briton some breathing space. He was soon back on the Mercedes’ tail thanks to his fresher tires. He forced Hamilton into a lock-up and found a way past with three laps to go with an incredible overtake heading into turn four.

Hamilton tried to follow him through, but was soon more occupied with Rosberg who had caught the leaders on fresh options. However, he could not find a way past and had to settle for fourth place come the line. Felipe Massa came home in fifth for Williams ahead of Kimi Raikkonen – his best result of the season – and Sebastian Vettel. Valtteri Bottas was eighth, with Jean-Eric Vergne and Jenson Button rounding out the points.

However, all of the plaudits must go to Ricciardo. Through rain, safety cars and in light of the Mercedes’ pace, he produced an epic drive to claim his second career victory and continue to show the F1 world that he has the makings of a future champion.

“Fast Ed” Carpenter takes 3rd career pole for Indy 500; Danica to start 7th

Pole winner Ed Carpenter is hugged by teammate Danica Patrick. Photo:IndyCar
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Ed Carpenter, the king of the front row at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, reigned supreme again Sunday, taking the pole for next Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s the third time Carpenter — nicknamed “Fast Ed” — has started the 500 from the top spot, having also done so in 2013 and 2014, along with starting second in last year’s race.

Carpenter led off with the fastest one-lap speed of the day at 230.088 mph – the only driver over 230 mph – and continued on to accumulate a four-lap average speed of 229.618 mph, nearly a full mph faster than Simon Pagenaud (228.761 mph), who will start second and in the middle of the front row.

Will Power (228.607 mph) will start on the outside of the front row. Team Penske grabbed second through fourth and also the eighth position.

Chevrolets make up four of the top five and seven of the top nine. The only Honda driver in the top five is Sebastien Bourdais in fifth.

The first driver of the Fast Nine to take the track, Danica Patrick – who will make the final start of her multi-faceted racing career in the 500 – qualified seventh with a four-lap average of 228.584 mph.

Here’s how the first three rows stack up (inside driver, middle driver, outside driver):

Row 1: Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power

Row 2: Josef Newgarden, Sebastien Bourdais, Spencer Pigot

Row 3: Danica Patrick, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon

Here’s comments from the Fast Nine:

Ed Carpenter (229.618 mph, 1st): “I’m the 11th to get three (poles), but I want to add my name to the list of winners here. I can’t wait for Sunday. The car was perfect. It was awesome to drive that car. Hopefully, we’ll be able to close the deal this year.”

Simon Pagenaud (228.761 mph, 2nd): “We have good cars, fast cars and I’m just super proud. Obviously, I wanted to get the pole, but it’s racing. Luck is on my side today. We’re in a very good position and I’m thinking positive today.”

Will Power (228.607 mph, 3rd): “Just a couple little bad shifts and little less downforce and it would have been a little closer. It all makes a difference, it all adds up, but that’s Indy for you. You can’t second guess.”

Josef Newgarden (228.405 mph, 4th): “We’re competitive. We want all four of these cars to be up-front. It’s good to be with Chevrolet, they do a lot here at Indianapolis. It was an overall good run, so I’m satisfied. You always feel like you had something to do different after you did it. Hindsight is always 20-20, right?”

Sebastien Bourdais (228.142 mph, 5th): “It was pretty stressful. The car was very much on top of the track, very little downforce conditions. The guys did a good job, gave me a fast car and I really had to wheel it.”

Spencer Pigot (228.107 mph, 6th): “Starting inside the top 9 is a big achievement for us. For me, it’s at least 20 positions better than I’ve ever started here. Now that qualifying is over, we’ll focus on the race. … It’s a massive improvement for me. I like our chances.”

Danica Patrick (228.090 mph, 7th): “It was fairly consistent. All in all, a good feeling. It’s good to have that part done. I was pretty nervous. … Now it’s time for 500 fun miles.”

Helio Castroneves (227.859 mph, 8th): “I was praying for rain but it didn’t happen (he said with a laugh). Congrats to Ed (Carpenter). We took a gamble, had nothing to lose here and that’s what we did. It is what it is. Eighth position, we can win the race from there. Now, I’ve got to think about the big number.”

Scott Dixon (227.262 mph, 9th): “We didn’t run this morning so it was following the conditions. We struggled a little and maybe had a couple things that didn’t pay off. We’ll keep trucking on and see ourselves move up next weekend.”

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As for qualifying for positions 10th through 33rd:

* Defending 500 winner Takuma Sato qualified 16th.

* 2016 500 winner Alexander Rossi qualified a disappointing 32nd. Rossi had a strong run in the first of his four laps at 227.454 mph, and then suddenly dropped off to 224.152 on the third lap and a very disappointing 221.619 mph on his final lap, plunging him from potentially starting on the fourth row to the last row.

* Another disappointing effort came from Graham Rahal, who will start 30th, on the outside of the 10th row.

* Also, Matheus Leist, driving for Indy 500 legend A.J. Foyt, qualified 11th, making him the highest-qualifying rookie.

Here’s how Rows 4 through 11 lineup look (inside driver, middle driver, outside driver):

Row 4: Tony Kanaan, Matheus Leist, Marco Andretti

Row 5: Zachary Claman Demelo, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Charlie Kimball

Row 6: Takuma Sato, Kyle Kaiser, Robert Wickens

Row 7: James Davison, Max Chilton, Carlos Munoz

Row 8: Gabby Chaves, Stefan Wilson, Sage Karam

Row 9: Zack Veach, Oriol Servia, JR Hildebrand

Row 10: Jay Howard, Ed Jones, Graham Rahal

Row 11: Jack Harvey, Alexander Rossi, Conor Daly

Here’s some driver comments on their qualifying efforts:

* Tony Kanaan (10th): “What a great effort as a team. A.J. and Larry (Foyt) put so much effort into this over the winter and gave us everything I’ve asked. They’ve spent every single dime to give us a great car. I told them today our pole was 10, so we’re sitting on the pole.”

* Matheus Leist (11th): “The car was pretty good since the beginning of the week. I’m so happy for the whole team. I love this place. Last year I won my first race in Indy Lights here, so let’s see what I can do in my first Indy 500 here.”

* Marco Andretti (12th): “I thought it was alright. I was chasing balance end to end. It kind of caught me out. … I’m excited about the race, that’s for sure. Yesterday, we wouldn’t have made the Fast Nine, so I just want to go forward and get it done.”

* Ryan Hunter-Reay (14th): “I was hoping for more but I think that’s the speed the car has in it. I had a good balance in the car. I’m looking forward to focusing on the race car tomorrow, and if you have a good race car, none of this qualifying matters.”

* Robert Wickens (18th): “We were able to do a 228 this morning comfortably, and then I go out and do a 226 (in qualifying) and didn’t change a thing. … It’s still cool to start it.”

* Carlos Munoz (21st): “I want this race, I’ve been so close for so many years. I love this race, everything about the 500. I think the most important thing is to have a good car for the race.”

* Jay Howard (28th): “Obviously, I’m just real happy to have the opportunity to go out there to give the car a good qualification effort. The pace is not there, we’re a little disappointed with the speed, but we’re in the race, that’s the most important thing and we’ll see what (the race) brings us.”

* Alexander Rossi (32nd): “It’s the mystery about this place, we don’t know yet. Certainly, that hasn’t been our performance here. We should have been 10th through 12th, but that’s what makes this place what it is. It’s a new challenge and new opportunity to show what we can do.”

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