Ferrari driver pays tribute to Frenchman, who passed away on July 17, after his horror crash at Japanese GP in October '14
Budapest: Sebastian Vettel kept his cool at the head of the field, on a day when pre-race favourites Mercedes lost theirs, to snatch a shock victory for Ferrari in a chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel celebrates with the winner's trophy after winning the Hungarian GP at Budapest’s Hungaroring Circuit yesterday. Pic/Getty Images
Vettel crossed the line 15.7 seconds up the road from Daniil Kvyat, who raced to the first podium of his career and Red Bull's first of the season, ahead of teammate Daniel Ricciardo who finished third.
Dominant Mercedes had an uncharacteristically off-colour afternoon. Lewis Hamilton could manage only sixth while a late-race puncture dropped Nico Rosberg out of podium contention to eighth, making it the first time since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix that neither Mercedes driver has finished among the top-three.
With yesterday's win, his first in Hungary, Vettel equals late triple champion Ayrton Senna's haul of 41 victories and moves up to joint third with the Brazilian in the all time list of GP winners, trailing only boyhood hero Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost.
But though a keen student of the sport's history and conscious of his place in it, Vettel's first thoughts were for Jules Bianchi, who last week succumbed to injuries sustained in a crash in last year's Japanese Grand Prix.
McLaren Honda driver Fernando Alonso comforts Jules Bianchi's father Philippe. Pic/Getty Images
"Merci Jules, cette victoire est pour toi," (Thank you Jules, this win is for you)," Vettel said in French over the team radio on the slowing down lap after taking the chequered flag. "You are always in our hearts, sooner or later we know you would have been in this team," he continued in English.
Vettel seized the lead at the very start of the race, surging past pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton and second-place Nico Rosberg from third on the grid. Kimi Raikkonen also rocketed past both Mercedes into second.
Hamilton, meanwhile, after having taken a dominant pole and topped every session leading up to the race, dropped to fourth at the start having also lost position to teammate Rosberg.
He tumbled further down the field when he ran wide and through the gravel as he tried to pull alongside Rosberg in an attempt to pass the German, crossing the line tenth at the end of the first lap.
F1 drivers form a circle for a minute's silence to pay tribute to Jules Bianchi ahead of the Hungarian GP in Budapest yesterday. Pic/AFP
A safety car on the 44th lap bunched the field up and brought Mercedes back into contention. But, Mercedes' race unraveled spectacularly following the safety car restart. Having clawed his way back up to fourth and been told over the radio that he was now back "racing for the win," Hamilton tumbled down the field at the restart.
A collision with Daniel Ricciardo cost him even more positions and eventually forced him into the pits. Rosberg, meanwhile, on course for second, and set to close his championship deficit to Hamilton to one point, also ended up colliding with Ricciardo as the Red Bull attempted an opportunistic pass. The collision resulted in a puncture for the German and, with Ricciardo forced to pit for a new front wing, elevated Kvyat to second.
F1 drivers paid a final formal tribute to their colleague Jules Bianchi during a minute's silence ahead of the Hungarian GP. Standing in a closed circle, arms across backs and shoulders, they laid their own helmets on the ground. When Bianchi's dad Philippe and mom Christine, his brother and sister, and his manager Nicolas Todt, arrived, the group took them in, heads bowed.