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.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.