Fernando Alonso was voted Driver of the Weekend for the second time this year following his podium finish in the Hungarian Grand Prix, after one of the closest votes so far.
Unsurprisingly the other two drivers in the top three were Alonso’s fellow podium finishers Lewis Hamilton and race winner Daniel Ricciardo – in second and third respectively.
1. Fernando Alonso
Fifth on the grid has more often than not been where you find Alonso in recent years. But in Hungary that represented a particularly impressive achievement as he took advantage of some tricky conditions.
That fifth briefly became third at the start as the two Red Bulls got away slowly from the dirtier side of the grid, but Sebastian Vettel claimed his place back later on the first lap.
However Alonso’s elevated position worked against him as he was among the leading quartet which missed the chance to pit immediately after the first deployment of the Safety Car.
On the restart however he mastered the tricky conditions, getting the better of both Nico Rosberg and Jean-Eric Vergne. That put him in position to lead when the Safety Car came out again.
It was then up to Alonso to make a set of soft tyres last 32 laps to the end of the race, which he impressively pulled off, losing only a single position to the substantially faster car of Ricciardo.
Maximised everything, held back cars that were clearly faster, first of all the four that were stuck behind the safety car, in arguably the fourth, more likely the third fastest car of the lot. What a drive.
I could have easily gone for Daniel Ricciardo, but he was massively helped by the Safety Car, and was out-qualified by his team mate.
I could have easily gone for Lewis Hamilton, but I’m unsure how much that spin cost him, he spent quite a long time behind slower cars too, like his team mate.
Instead, I went for a driver who not only out-performed the car in qualifying, but was the highest placed car out of those who were caught out by the safety car. While Vettel, Bottas and Rosberg were seventh, eighth, and fourth respectively, Alonso made it onto the podium.
An absolutely phenomenal drive all weekend.
If this were ‘driver of the race’, I really would not be able to choose between Ricciardo, Alonso and Hamilton. Those three guys made the race and did pretty much everything right (apart from Hamilton spinning on lap one).
However, looking at the weekend, Ricciardo was pretty much where one would expect him but didn’t beat his team mate. Hamilton’s qualifying can’t really be classified because of what happened.
Fernando put his pile of rubbish on a respectable fifth during qualifying and led in a car that only took one podium so far this season. As far as relative performance goes this weekend, I have to give it to Fernando.
2. Lewis Hamilton
Having topped all three free practice sessions Hamilton looked a good bet for pole position, but those hopes were soon up in smoke – along with his car – as the latest in a series of mechanical failures struck his Mercedes.
With the need to replace a vast number of components Hamilton was condemned to start from the pit lane, and the lack of a formation lap ultimately cost him as he span off at turn two with cold brakes, incurring minor front wing damage.
He fought back however and was up to an impressive 13th when the first Safety Car appeared, although his restart was even better, passing four cars in the first racing lap. He then found himself behind Vettel – who soon spun out of his way – before performing a rather brilliant around-the-outside pass on Jean-Eric Vergne at turn four.
This allowed Hamilton to jump team mate Rosberg after his stop, and ultimately led to the team orders debate in which Mercedes requested he let Rosberg through. Unsurprisingly Hamilton refused and spent the final lap defending the final podium spot from his team mate, a chance he would surely never had got had he complied.
Epic drive from the pit lane to third on a track where overtaking is supposedly impossible. Brilliant overtakes on Raikkonen and Vergne and good blocking of Rosberg in the final lap.
He was only let down by the team and their odd strategy call to put him on medium tyres when he had fresh soft tyres available in abundance. With the right strategy (like Ricciardo used) he could have even won the race.
This was a tough one but I have to give it to Lewis. He held up Ricciardo the first time. He made the right call to disobey team orders at a difficult stage in the race. He held up Rosberg on tyres that were 3.5-plus seconds faster.
3. Daniel Ricciardo
Ricciardo struggled to get his tyre temperatures up following the brief rain shower in Q3 and lined up in the now somewhat unusual position of behind his team mate for the race start.
He struggled to get off of the line but this ultimately helped him, as he fell back enough to ensure he was one of the first cars into the pits under the first safety car period.
This propelled Ricciardo into the lead and Red Bull opted for an aggressive Option-Option strategy, meaning their man would have to overtake to win, although Ricciardo was always confident as he showed on the radio.
Despite having the advantage of quicker tyres it was still a gutsy move on the outside of Hamilton at turn two and his late lunge down the inside of Alonso at turn one a few laps later to take the lead and an eventual win provided yet more radio gold.
Ricciardo for me. Did a pretty good job in qualifying before beating both Mercedes in the race fair and square (passing two world champions in the process).
2014 Driver of the Weekend results
|Australian||Kevin Magnussen (48.4%)||Valtteri Bottas (24.5%)||Daniel Ricciardo (14.1%)|
|Malaysian||Lewis Hamilton (54.3%)||Nico Hulkenberg (24.0%)||Sebastian Vettel (6.5%)|
|Bahrain||Lewis Hamilton (49.2%)||Sergio Perez (25.7%)||Daniel Ricciardo (16.6%)|
|China||Fernando Alonso (47.7%)||Lewis Hamilton (30.7%)||Daniel Ricciardo (7.8%)|
|Spain||Sebastian Vettel (51.9%)||Lewis Hamilton (20.5%)||Romain Grosjean (11.0%)|
|Monaco||Jules Bianchi (60.2%)||Nico Rosberg (11.5%)||Daniel Ricciardo (8.8%)|
|Canada||Daniel Ricciardo (44.9%)||Nico Rosberg (22.4%)||Sergio Perez (9.5%)|
|Austria||Valtteri Bottas (41.7%)||Lewis Hamilton (15.1%)||Sergio Perez (14.3%)|
|Britain||Valtteri Bottas (52.5%)||Fernando Alonso (18.5%)||Jenson Button (11.8%)|
|Germany||Valtteri Bottas (37.1%)||Lewis Hamilton (33.8%)||Daniel Ricciardo (10.4%)|
|Hungary||Fernando Alonso (40.2%)||Lewis Hamilton (29.3%)||Daniel Ricciardo (25.1%)|
2014 Hungarian Grand Prix
- Alonso wins close Hungary Driver of the Weekend vote
- Hungarian Grand Prix gets its highest-ever rating
- Mercedes defend Hamilton over team orders call
- 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix team radio transcript
- 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix fans’ video gallery
Image © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo