No one deserved to lose the 2014 Hungarian GP

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Rare does a Formula One Grand Prix come to pass where the outcome is so in doubt so late in a race and several drivers have a legitimate case at victory, but the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix marked one of those abnormal occasions.

Consider Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo rebounded from an early tire gamble, ran slightly off sequence compared to the pair of World Champions in Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, and then delivered two passes on the two of them in the waning stages to score an opportunistic and well-played second win. Yes, he was on newer tires, but he still had to make passes at the Hungaroring. 

How Alonso, in the down-on-performance Ferrari F14 T, was able to make his softs last 32 laps was nothing short of a miracle in and of itself. And he could well have won had Ricciardo not gotten Hamilton for second just prior to the ultimate winning pass; Hamilton never seemed close enough to make a winning move of his own when running second.

But still Hamilton, in the Mercedes, used a mix of well-timed strategy, the safety cars negating huge gaps and some great passes of his own to launch from a pit lane start to a near victory, which would have been the first of its kind in Formula One history.

Some races feel pre-judged, almost pre-ordained to determine a Grand Prix winner.

The stars pretty much aligned for Hamilton at Silverstone, regardless of his late fall to sixth on the grid there, to put together a home victory after a run of races where he’d fallen behind teammate Nico Rosberg.

A week ago, Rosberg’s run of personal good fortune – his marriage, his new contract and his home country winning the World Cup, all to go along with Germany’s general good luck streak in sport – set up perfectly for him to win on his own home soil in Hockenheim.

But the Hungaroring? A race that’s usually good as decided after qualifying on Saturday or at the latest, the exit of Turn 1 on Sunday? You couldn’t have predicted the way Sunday’s race would shake out even if you held psychic powers.

Yes, the crazy mixed conditions helped – same as they did for 2006 and 2011, when Jenson Button won on both occasions.

But still, teams and drivers had to make strategic calls, attempt passes at places they otherwise wouldn’t have dared (Ricciardo at Turn 2, later Turn 12 on Hamilton) and manage their tires while all driving cars with varying performance levels.

In dry conditions, there wouldn’t have been a doubt. Rosberg and his Merc likely would have walked the field from pole.

Yet on this day, each of the podium finishers – and for that matter Rosberg, as well, in fourth – had a distinct and serious claim to the win. Each would have deserved it.

Although Ricciardo won once the checkered flag flew, there were no losers. It was a treat to watch and a race that may grow in lore as the weeks, months and years go by.

Oliver Askew: ‘I was starting to lose confidence’ after ‘hardest hit I’ve had’

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Oliver Askew knew something was medically wrong in the days after concussion-like symptoms began from “the hardest hit I’ve ever had” in the Indianapolis 500. He’d been evaluated and cleared to race after the Aug. 23 crash, but he just didn’t feel right.

The IndyCar rookie told The Associated Press on Thursday he has been experiencing dizziness, sleeping difficulties, irritability, headaches and confusion since he crashed in the Aug. 23 race. He continued to race in four more events as he tried to “play through it” until friends and family encouraged him to seek medical treatment.

He since has been diagnosed with a concussion and is working on a recovery plan with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s sports medicine concussion program, the same place NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. received care after concussions in 2012 and ’16. Askew will not compete in next weekend’s doubleheader on the road course at Indianapolis, and Arrow McLaren SP will put three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Chevrolet.

“This is all I’ve worked for,” the 23-year-old told AP. “I don’t come from money, and I’ve worked my way up and have finally gotten my shot in a good car. And then all of a sudden, the results just weren’t there in a car I knew should be performing. And I just didn’t feel like myself, you know?

“So initially I felt like I needed to stay in the car and continue to improve. And then I didn’t feel like I could do that with my condition and what was going on. I was starting to lose confidence in myself.”

Earnhardt praised Askew for going to Pittsburgh to see Dr. Micky Collins.

“Oliver is in the best hands when it comes to taking care of this problem and getting back on the racetrack. It was very smart of him to get in front of Micky so that he could understand the seriousness of the situation and begin the process of getting well,” Earnhardt said. “You can absolutely heal from this but not without taking the step of getting help. Often that’s the most difficult step.”

Athletes often hide injuries to continue competing, and even Earnhardt admittedly masked concussions during his driving career. Askew didn’t know what was wrong with him but was frightened to get out of the car.

He is a paid driver who brings no sponsorship money to the team (but did bring a $1 million scholarship for winning last year’s Indy Lights championship), and owner Sam Schmidt holds the option on his contract.

As he tried to race on, his performance suffered. Askew had finished third and sixth at Iowa — the previous two races before Indianapolis. After the crash, he was part of a multicar accident the next week at Gateway and has not finished higher than 14th in the four races since Indy.

A year after winning seven Indy Lights races, Askew has fallen from 12th to 18th in the standings and slipped considerably off the pace. He said he struggled in team debriefs, had difficulty giving feedback and has gone through a personality change that was noticeable to those close to Askew.

Spire Sports + Entertainment, which represents Askew and was among those who pushed the driver to see a doctor, noted Arrow McLaren SP did not reveal that Askew was suffering from a concussion in its Thursday announcement he would miss next week’s race.

“Oliver clearly demonstrated his talent until Lap 91 of the Indianapolis 500, and I hope this does not become another case study of why athletes do not tell their teams they are injured,” said agent Jeff Dickerson. “The reason they do that is because more often times than not they are replaced. In motorsports, there is always somebody to replace you, and whether it was Dale Jr. or Oliver Askew, there is always another driver available.

“I hope this is not a barrier to progress for other drivers — especially young drivers afraid of losing their job — to notify their teams they are hurt. I hope the team proves me wrong because the good news is, the kid has had a head injury for the past month and has still run 14th in IndyCar.”

After finally seeking medical treatment, Askew said he was relieved to learn there was something wrong. He said doctors told him the injury has a “100% recovery rate” and he believes he will be able to race in the IndyCar season finale next month at St. Petersburg. He’s been rehabilitating with exercises and tasks that strain the brain such as deliberately going to grocery stores and the airport.

“Honestly, you know, if I had not gone to see medical professionals I would probably stay in the car,” Askew said. “But now after hearing what’s wrong and that it could get worse, God forbid I have another hit, I know I did the right thing. I think I can be an example for young drivers now in stepping up and saying something is wrong, I need to have this checked out.”