Vettel storms to victory in Hungary as Hamilton and Rosberg hit trouble


For the second time in 2015, Sebastian Vettel managed to spring a surprise on the Formula 1 world by charging to victory in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

The German driver made a superb start from third place on the grid to seize the lead of the race before controlling proceedings from the front as Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton both came unstuck at the Hungaroring.

A poor start for Hamilton was then compounded by an off-track excursion, leaving him tenth at the end of the first lap. Despite putting up a spirited battle, the Briton’s race fell apart following a safety car period and a penalty that eventually saw him finish sixth at the end of the race.

Vettel had been on for a straightforward victory, but the safety car also made his life difficult, resulting in a breathless fight to the line with Rosberg and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo.

However, when they made contact late on, Rosberg dropped back down the order, allowing Daniil Kvyat to score his first F1 podium in second place ahead of Ricciardo, who recovered from the incident to finish third.

After the first start was aborted due to a car being out of position on the grid, the second getaway saw Hamilton bog down in pole position, allowing Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Rosberg all to sweep past into the top three positions. The British driver lost even more places when he went off track on the first lap after locking up, leaving him P10 and with a mountain to climb at the Hungaroring.

Having made a perfect start, Ferrari ran P1 and P2 in the early stages with Vettel leading the way, and the German driver quickly set about putting his foot down, opening up a two second lead over Raikkonen, who in turn had two seconds over Rosberg just behind after the first five laps.

Hamilton was left reeling by his mistake, but began to fight back by passing Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez ahead of the first round of pit stops. With a bit of clean air, he began to lap with a pace comparable to the Ferraris at the front, but still had an enormous amount of ground to make up.

Hamilton had risen to fifth place by the time he came in for his first pit stop on lap 20, taking on another set of option tires. Rosberg followed suit in the sister Mercedes, coming in one lap later for primes, and held a 17 second lead over his teammate on track.

At the front, Vettel left it late before coming in for his first stop, taking on options one lap after Rosberg and emerging ten seconds clear of the German driver. Raikkonen had a brief scare when he lost part a camera on his car, but he managed to retain second place ahead of Rosberg after pitting. After the first round of stops, the advantage still firmly lay with Ferrari.

Hamilton had managed to cut the gap to the leaders, but still found himself down in fifth place behind Daniel Ricciardo after stopping. On the option tire though, he did have a pace advantage over the Australian, and managed to move up into fourth place with relative ease.

Further back, Pastor Maldonado was hit with a drive-through penalty for causing a collision after making contact with Sergio Perez at turn one. Maldonado tried to squeeze Perez out in a bid to hold onto position, only for the two drivers to make contact. After serving his penalty, the Lotus driver was running down in 18th place.

After passing Ricciardo, Hamilton put his foot down in a bid to cut the gap to Rosberg ahead in third place. With option tires, the Briton was able to reduce the gap lap by lap, piling the pressure on his teammate. Rosberg requested to be put on the same tire as Hamilton for the final stint of the race, but Mercedes remained keen for him to be on options late on.

Ahead of the final round of pit stops, the race took a dramatic twist as the safety car was deployed following a crash for Nico Hulkenberg at the first corner. The Force India driver suffered a front wing failure, causing him to slam into the barrier at high speed. Although he walked away unharmed, the safety car was sent out for the debris on the main straight to be cleared.

The leaders took this opportunity to pit, retaining the status quo at the front. Raikkonen had reported a loss of power on his car, but he managed to keep going in second place behind Vettel. However, the safety car did dramatically reduce Ferrari’s advantage, bringing Mercedes back into contention for the race win.

For the restart, Hamilton was told by Mercedes that he could potentially win the race still, only for his hopes to be dashed just seconds later. Ricciardo tried to pass Hamilton around the outside of turn one, but the two drivers made contact, leaving Hamilton with damage to his front wing and down in sixth place.

Rosberg was ready to take the challenge to Ferrari, though. The German driver eased past the ailing Raikkonen for second place, and now had only Vettel ahead. Ricciardo was able to follow Rosberg through, moving up into third as Red Bull set its sights on its first podium finish of the season.

Despite the team trying to reset his car and keep him in the race, the problem on Kimi Raikkonen’s car proved too grave for him to continue. The Finn ultimately had no choice but to bring his car in and retire.

Hamilton was running in P12 after stopping for a new front wing, but his day got even worse when the stewards handed him a drive-through penalty for causing a collision. After serving it, the Briton sat in 13th position.

Entering the final ten laps of the race, Ricciardo had latched onto the back of the leading pair, giving Rosberg more than just Vettel ahead of focus on. However, there was another late twist when Ricciardo tried to pass Rosberg for P2, only to give the German a puncture and give himself front wing damage. Both drivers had to pit, handing second place to Daniil Kvyat.

Vettel managed to keep his cool at the front of the field to cross the line after 69 breathless laps and win for the first time in Hungary. Despite being handed a ten second time penalty for exceeding track limits, Kvyat retained second place to claim his first podium finish in F1, whilst Ricciardo recovered to finish third and cap off a good day for Red Bull.

Max Verstappen made the most of the drama to finish fourth in just his tenth grand prix, whilst Fernando Alonso gave McLaren plenty to cheer about in fifth.

Remarkably, Lewis Hamilton managed to recover to sixth place ahead of Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg, meaning that the British driver extends his championship lead in spite of a disastrous grand prix. Jenson Button and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the points.

The win marked Vettel’s first victory at the Hungaroring, but the 41st of his F1 career, drawing him level with Ayrton Senna in the all-time win standings. Speaking over the radio after the race, the German driver dedicated his win to Jules Bianchi following the Frenchman’s death last week.

Tony Kanaan at peace with IndyCar career end: ‘I’ll always be an Indianapolis 500 winner’


INDIANAPOLIS – Few drivers in Indy 500 history have been as popular as Tony Kanaan.

Throughout his career at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that began with his first Indy 500 in 2002, the fans loved his aggressiveness on the track and his engaging personality with the fans.

The Brazilian always got the loudest cheers from the fans during driver introductions before the Indy 500.

Sunday’s 107th Indianapolis 500 would be his last time to walk up the steps for driver introductions. Kanaan announced earlier this year that it would be his final race of his IndyCar career, but not the final race as a race driver.

He will continue to compete in stock cars in Brazil and in Tony Stewart’s summer series known as the “Superstar Racing Experience” – an IROC-type series that competes at legendary short tracks around the country beginning in June.

Kanaan was the extra driver at Arrow McLaren for this year’s Indy 500 joining NTT IndyCar Series regulars Pato O’Ward of Mexico, Felix Rosenqvist of Sweden, and Alexander Rossi of northern California.

He had a sporty ride, the No. 66 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet that paid homage to McLaren’s first Indianapolis 500 victory by the late Mark Donohue for Team Penske in 1972.

Because Kanaan has meant so much to the Indianapolis 500 and the NTT IndyCar Series, the 2013 Indy 500 winner was honored before the start of the race with a special video.

It featured Kanaan sitting in the Grandstand A seats writing a love letter to the fans of this great event. Kanaan narrated the video, reciting the words in the letter and it finished with the driver putting it in an envelope and leaving it at the Yard of Bricks.

Lauren Kanaan with daughter Nina before the 107th Indy 500 (Bruce Martin Photo).

Many in the huge crowd of 330,000 fans watched the video on the large screens around the speedway. On the starting grid, Kanaan’s wife, Lauren, who bears a striking resemblance to actress Kate Beckinsale, watched with their four children.

Kanaan’s wife is an Indiana girl who was a high school basketball star in Cambridge City, Indiana.

Kanaan proposed to Lauren in 2010, and after a three-year engagement, they were married in 2013 – the year he won his only Indianapolis 500.

She has been Kanaan’s rock, and this was a moment for the family to share.

After receiving an ovation and the accolades from the crowd, Kanaan walked to his car on the starting grid and exchanged hugs with people who were important in his career.

One of those was Takuma Sato’s engineer at Chip Ganassi Racing, Eric Cowdin.

Tony Kanaan shares a moment with former engineer Eric Cowdin (Bruce Martin Photo).

Kanaan and Cowdin shared a longtime relationship dating all the way back to the Andretti Green Racing days when Kanaan was a series champion in 2004. This combination stayed together when Kanaan moved to KV Racing in 2011, then Chip Ganassi Racing from 2014-2018 followed by two years at AJ Foyt Racing.

Kanaan returned to run the four oval races for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2021 in the No. 48 Honda that was shared with seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

In 2022, Johnson ran the full IndyCar Series schedule, and Kanaan drove the No. 1 American Legion entry to a third-place finish in his only IndyCar race of the season.

Kanaan knew that 2023 would be his last Indy 500 and properly prepared himself mentally and emotionally for his long goodbye.

But one could sense the heartfelt love, gratitude, and most of all respect for this tenacious driver in the moments leading up to the start of the race.

Tony Kanaan gets emotional during an interview after the Indy 500 (Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/ USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“The emotions are just there,” Kanaan said. “I cried 400 times. This guy came to hug me, and I made Rocket (IndyCar Technical Director Kevin Blanch) cry. I mean, that is something.

“Yeah, it was emotional.”

Kanaan started ninth and finished 18th in a race that was very clean for the first two thirds of the race before ending in disjointed fashion with three red flags to stop the race over the final 15 laps.

“Yellows breed yellows and when you are talking about the Indianapolis 500 and a field that is so tough to pass, that happens,” Kanaan said. “It’s the Indy 500. Come on. We’ve got to leave it out there.

“Every red flag, everybody goes, I’m going to pass everybody. It’s tough to pass. It’s the toughest field, the tightest field we ever had here. It was going to happen. We knew it was going to happen.

“I wouldn’t want it any different. We left it all out there. Everybody that was out left it out.”

At one point in the second half of the race, Kanaan passed Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin by driving through the grass on the backstretch.

“That was OK, right?” Kanaan said. “That is one thing I have not done in 22 years here. Even (team owner) Sam Schmidt came to me and said, ‘That was a good one.’

“That was a farewell move.”

On the final lap, it was Kanaan battling his boyhood friend from Brazil, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, for a mid-pack finish.

“Helio and I battling for 15th and 16th on the last lap like we’re going for the lead,” Kanaan said. “It was like, who’s playing pranks with us.

“We both went side by side on the backstretch after the checker and we saluted with each other, and I just told him actually I dropped a tear because of that, and he said, ‘I did, too.’

“We went side by side like twice. A lot of memories came to my mind, and I even said how ironic it is that we started it together and I get to battle him on the last lap of my last race.

Tony Kanaan is embraced by his wife, Lauren, after finishing 16th in the 107th Indianapolis 500 ((Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/ USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“It’s pretty neat. It’s a pretty cool story. He’s a great friend. My reference, a guy that I love and hate a lot throughout my career, and like he just told me — I was coming up here and he just said, who am I going to look on the time sheet when I come into the pits now, because we always said that it didn’t matter if I was — if I was 22nd and he was 23rd, my day was okay. And vice versa.

“It was a good day for me, man. What can I say? We cried on the grid.

“Not the result that we wanted. I went really aggressive on the downforce to start the race. It was wrong. Then I added downforce towards the end of the race, and it was wrong. It was just one of those days.”

After the race was over, Kanaan drove his No. 66 Honda back to the Arrow McLaren pit area and climbed out of the car to cheers of the fans that could see him. Others were focused on Josef Newgarden’s wild celebration after the Team Penske driver had won his first Indianapolis 500.

There were no tears, though, only smiles from Kanaan who closes an IndyCar career with 389 starts, 17 wins including the 2013 Indianapolis 500, 79 podiums, 13 poles, and 4,077 laps led in a 26-year career.

Kanaan came, he raced, and he raced hard.

“That’s what we did, we raced as hard as we could,” Kanaan told NBC “It wasn’t enough.

“The win was the only thing that mattered. If we were second or 16th, we were going to celebrate regardless.

“In a way, being 16th will stop people wondering if I’m going to come back.

“I’m ready to go. I’m ready to enjoy the time with my family, with my team and doing other things as well.”

Kanaan’s face will forever be part of the Borg-Warner Trophy as the winner of the Indianapolis 500.

“I won one and that is there, and it will always be there,” Kanaan said. “It was an awesome day.

“The way this crowd made me feel was unbelievable. I don’t regret a bit.”

Tony Kanaan hugs his son Max before the Indy 500 (Grace Hollars/IndyStar/USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

Kanaan actually announced the 2020 Indianapolis 500 would be TK’s last ride because he wanted to say goodbye to the fans.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit, the Indianapolis 500 was moved from Memorial Day Weekend to August 23 and because of COVID restrictions, fans were not allowed to attend the Indianapolis 500.

Three years later, Kanaan was finally able to say goodbye to this fans that were part of the largest crowd to see the Indianapolis 500 since the sold-out gathering for 350,000 that attended the 100th running in 2016.

“That’s it, that’s what I wanted, and I got what I wanted,” Kanaan said. “This moment was so special; I don’t want to ever spoil it again.

Tony Kanaan kisses his daughter Nina before the 107th Indy 500 (Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“We’ve been building and growing this series as much as we can. I’m really glad and proud that I was able to be part of building something big and this year’s race was one of the biggest ones.”

Kanaan walked off pit lane and rejoined his family. He will always be part of the glorious history of the Indianapolis 500 and fans will be talking about Tony Kanaan years from now, not by what he did, but the way he did it.

“This is what it is all about,” Kanaan said on pit lane. “Having kids, be a good person. Even if you don’t win, it’s fine if you don’t, as long as you make a difference.

“Hopefully, I made a difference in this sport.

“I will always be an IndyCar driver. I will always be an Indy 500 winner and I will always make people aware of IndyCar in the way it deserves.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

(Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY Sports Images Network)