An astonishing crash-fuelled race in Hungary ends with Alpine’s Esteban Ocon becoming a Formula 1 race winner, Lewis Hamilton going from first to last to third, and Max Verstappen losing title lead in 10th after Valtteri Bottas-triggered start chaos
Esteban Ocon claimed a totally out-of-the-blue first Formula 1 victory with Alpine after cashing in on a chaotic Hungarian GP, as Lewis Hamilton raced back from last to third to reclaim the title lead from Max Verstappen.
Verstappen finished only 10th after picking up big damage to his Red Bull in a multi-car turn-one incident in damp conditions when Valtteri Bottas lost control of his Mercedes and triggered all manner of carnage.
Bottas slammed into the back of Lando Norris’ McLaren, which was then shunted into the side of Verstappen. The out-of-control Mercedes also crashed into Sergio Perez in the other Red Bull, with both out on the spot.
Hamilton had held the lead from pole but, after a red flag to clear up the scattered broken cars and debris of turn one, Mercedes then suddenly found themselves all alone on the grid for the restart.
While Hamilton continued to the grid on his intermediate tyres, the rest of the pack pitted behind him for dry tyres.
It created the barely-believable sight of Hamilton taking the restart on his own, before the rest of the pack rejoined from the pits on the correct tyres given the improving conditions. Swiftly realising their error, Mercedes pitted the world champion at the end of that restart lap but he dropped from the lead to 14th and last place.
With the order dramatically shuffled after the astonishing opening laps either side of a red flag with six drivers dropping out, Alpine’s 24-year-old Frenchman Ocon suddenly found himself in the lead from eighth on the grid.
Impressively, despite his near-total inexperience of F1 front-running, Ocon did not put a wheel out of line despite being put under big pressure from behind all-race long.
That was being applied by four-time champion Sebastian Vettel in the Aston Martin, who had started 10th. The German chased Ocon all the way but had to settle for second place, having followed in and around DRS range the whole race.
“What a moment,” said an overjoyed Ocon, who had only once previously finished on the podium in F1. “We’ve had some difficult moments this season but we are back where we belong.
“Sebastian put me under big pressure but we managed to keep him off, so it’s a great moment.”
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) August 1, 2021
After successfully undercutting Verstappen at his second visit to the pits, Hamilton raced back through the field impressively and eventually moved into third, passing Fernando Alonso after a long battle featuring several wheel-to-wheel dices, and then Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.
Sainz was fourth with Alonso fifth in the second Alpine.
George Russell, meanwhile, finally scored his first points for Williams in ninth, finishing ahead of the wounded Verstappen. Team-mate Nicholas Latifi opened his F1 points account entirely in eighth having run third early on from 18th on the grid.
The two-car points finish give the legendary Williams team their first points since 2019.
Bottas, meanwhile, has been given a five-place grid penalty for the next race after the summer break in Belgium for causing the lap-one collision.
Hungarian GP Race Result: Top 10
1) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
2) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin
3) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
4) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
5) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
6) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
7) Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
8) Nicholas Latifi, Williams
9) George Russell, Williams
10) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
What happened at the chaotic start?
The whole Hungaroring weekend had been bathed in glorious warm sunshine – until Sunday.
Rain had fallen in the morning at the circuit before light showers returned in the hour before the race as the teams prepared on the grid, creating a greasy track surface for the race start. All drivers started on intermediate tyres as a result.
From Mercedes’ front-row lockout, Hamilton got away well but Bottas was almost immediately overtaken by third-placed Verstappen. The Finn was then passed on either side by Norris’ McLaren and Perez in the other Red Bull.
That’s when things started to go horribly wrong for Bottas on the brakes – and several other luckless rivals.
Sliding straight into the back of Norris, and then collecting Perez on the outside, the impact also pushed the McLaren into a hefty impact with Verstappen too.
Bottas and Perez retired immediately, with Norris also forced out too before the restart to end his impressive 100 per cent points run this season.
Verstappen was able to continue but dropped to 13th and, although the red flag did allow Red Bull to make running repairs to his car to get it ready to race, it was operating at far from peak performance.
“He’s run with half a car, the entire right-hand side of the bargeboard was missing,” said Red Bull boss Christian Horner to Sky F1 after the race.
“He probably had less downforce than Mick Schumacher [in the Haas].
“That’s brutal for us. But the team did well to get the car back out there, they nailed the fastest pit stop. Max fought for that one point – and that could prove vital at the end of the year.”
In a similar but separate turn-one incident further back in the pack, Lance Stroll careered into Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari and took both out of the race. It meant five drivers – a quarter of the grid – had already retired before the restart.
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