Fri | Oct 20, 2017

Vettel wins Hungary GP, stretches championship lead

Published:Monday | July 31, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany kisses his trophy after winning the Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix, at the Hungaroring racetrack in Mogyorod, northeast of Budapest, yesterday.

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP):

Sebastian Vettel's luck changed for the better at the Hungarian Grand Prix yesterday, where the German driver won to extend his championship lead over-arch rival Lewis Hamilton by 14 points heading into the summer break.

Vettel's fourth win of the season came from pole position, on a Hungaroring track where overtaking is notoriously difficult. Yet his 46th career win turned out to be anything but a processional affair.

Even before the start, Vettel felt something was wrong with his steering wheel. It bugged him most of the race, but with his teammate Kimi Raikkonen driving brilliantly behind him to fend off the fast-closing Mercedes, Vettel held on and Ferrari got a 1-2 with Raikkonen second.

It was some change from two weeks ago at the British GP, where Vettel's tire punctured two laps from the end, denying him a certain podium place. At Silverstone, he just about crawled home to finish seventh, with his lead over Hamilton slashed from 20 points to a meager one.

 

Four straight titles

 

But Vettel now jets off into his month-long break with his spirits high again in his hunt for a fifth Formula One (F1) title, and first since the last of his four straight titles driving for Red Bull in 2013.

"I'm over the moon. It was a really difficult race, maybe it didn't look like it, but I had my hands full," the German driver said. "The steering started to go sideways and it seemed to get worse. Then I stayed off the kerbs, tried to save the car. I didn't do a favour to Kimi."

Raikkonen, never known as a 'Yes man' in F1, played the game and stayed behind Vettel, protecting him from the encroaching threat of Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas, who was third, and Hamilton, who placed fourth.

With his contract up for renewal, it might prove a shrewd move from Raikkonen, who had enough speed to win. He hasn't won since the season-opening Australian GP in 2013. But maybe he saw the bigger picture.

As a model teammate to Vettel, the Finn might get a new multi-million deal for 2018 at the ripe old age of 38.

"A big thank you to the team," said Vettel, who should especially buy Raikkonen a drink before they go on holiday. "Kimi could have gone a lot faster than me for the majority of the race."

Raikkonen used all of his experience to help Vettel.

"It wasn't ideal, as I felt I had the speed," Raikkonen said. "We know as teammates what we had to do."

Asked if he could have won the race, he replied "Definitely."