French driver Esteban Ocon won his maiden Formula One victory in the most thrilling race of the season. He finished ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, while the new Drivers’ Championship leader, Lewis Hamilton, recovered from being at the back of the grid at one point of the race to take P3. Title rival Max Verstappen had to settle with 10th after taking damage to his car in a crash that led to the race being red-flagged.
All of the drivers on the grid started the race in intermediate tyres as the on-track conditions were wet. Hamilton, who secured pole position on Saturday, had a clean and quick getaway as the race started, but unlike him, his Mercedes teammate, Valtteri Bottas, had a terrible start to the race. The Finnish driver, who had a slow getaway after the lights turned green, was quickly overtaken by both of the Red Bull’s and McLaren’s Lando Norris. But as everyone approached turn one, Bottas locked up and crashed into Lando Norris, who then ended up crashing into Max Verstappen. Bottas also crashed into the other Red Bull of Sergio Perez before finally stopping at the barriers.
Behind them, Lance Stroll also locked up and crashed into Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who then spun around the other McLaren driver, Daniel Ricciardo. As a result of all the crashes, five drivers had to retire- Bottas, Perez, Norris, Stroll and Leclerc, and the race was red-flagged.
At the end of lap two, the grid had changed entirely from the starting grid. Hamilton was still in the lead, while Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was in 2nd place, with Vettel, Sainz and Tsunoda rounding the top 5.
Even though Hamilton was unharmed during the first lap, his race was compromised after Mercedes misjudged the track conditions at the race restart. While the rest of the grid went into the pits at the end of the formation lap to switch to slick tyres, Mercedes opted to keep Hamilton out on the intermediates. He was then forced to pit at the end of the lap and came out at the back of the grid.
After Hamilton went into the pits, the lead of the race was taken by Esteban Ocon. He would end up holding the lead of the race for the rest of the race while keeping former four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel in his mirrors to take his first single-seater victory since 2015 when he took victory in the first round of the GP3 championship. More importantly, this victory was his first in Formula One and his second time on the podium in his career. Behind him, Vettel scored his second podium of the season after a good drive. Even though Vettel felt that he was faster than Ocon throughout the race and tried his best to force Ocon to make a mistake, the young Frenchmen kept his nerves and drove a faultless race.
In what was almost another fantastic comeback victory for Hamilton, he did his best to recover as many points as possible after being at the back of the grid at the end of lap 4. It was apparent that he was the fastest car on the grid as he drove a beautiful race to make his way from P14 to P3.
Hamilton could have fought for the victory if not for the other Alpine driver, Fernando Alonso, who did his best to keep Hamilton behind him for as long as possible. When Hamilton did overtake him on lap 65, there was only enough time for him to pass Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who was in P3 for much of the race. Sainz had to settle for P4 in the end, while Alonso got P5 and the Driver of the Day for his defensive work against Hamilton.
Both of the AlphaTauri’s finished in the points together for only the second time this season, as Pierre Gasly was sixth ahead of his rookie teammate Yuki Tsunoda. Gasly scored an extra point for getting the fastest lap of the race in the last lap.
Another team that had both of its drivers finish in points was Williams, but unlike AlphaTauri, this was their first time scoring points since the 2019 German Grand Prix. It was the first time either of the William drivers had scored a point for the team, with Nicholas Latifi finishing in P8, ahead of his teammate George Russel who matched his career-best finish in P9.
In what was another disappointing weekend for Red Bull and Max Verstappen, the team scored only 1 point after Verstappen finished P10 in the race. Verstappen had sustained a lot of damage in the first lap of the race, which led to him not being competitive for the rest of the race.
Before the weekend, Red Bull had the lead in both the Drivers’ Championship and Constructors’ Championship. But after the end of the race weekend in Hungary, Mercedes has the lead in both championships.
As Formula One enters the summer break, Red Bull will hope to gather themselves as a team and come back strong for round 12 of the championship at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Esteban Ocon is the first French driver to win in a French Team with a French engine since 1983
Esteban Ocon’s victory in the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix is the first victory for a Frenchman in a French team with a French engine since 1983. The last Frenchman to achieve this feat was Alain Prost when he won the 1983 Austrian Grand Prix with Renault, which was powered by an engine made by Renault themselves. The last time a Frenchman won a Grand Prix with a French team was in 1996 when Olivier Panis won the Monaco Grand Prix with Ligier.