Daniel Ricciardo masterfully overcame tricky conditions to claim a classic victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix, fending off a stunning drive from Fernando Alonso as Lewis Hamilton recovered from the pit lane.
The race began in wet conditions and was disrupted by two safety car periods, as tensions rose at Mercedes due to a controversial team orders call.
Nico Rosberg led the field away from pole, as Valtteri Bottas and Alonso moved themselves into second and third respectively, ahead of Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull.
Hamilton found himself in a spin at Turn 2 following his pit lane start. This was the result of a fire in qualifying which destroyed his Mercedes, forcing his team to make wholesale changes to his car, dropping the Brit to the back of the grid.
The 29 year old recovered with only slight damage to his front wing as Vettel claimed third place back from Alonso, before a big accident for Marcus Ericsson brought out the first safety car.
The Caterham driver lost control on Lap 8 in the slippery conditions and spearheaded into the barriers on the exit of Turn 3.
This prompted almost everybody to come into the pits to change onto the ‘slick’ tyres, as Rosberg dropped down to fifth position with Ricciardo now leading.
More drama soon followed, with the Lotus of Romain Grosjean the next driver to be caught out as he dropped the car out of the race under the safety car period.
Lap 14 saw the race resume as Button who remained on the intermediate tyres, took the lead from Ricciardo. The next lap gave Jean-Eric Vergne the chance to make an impression as he displaced Rosberg, before Alonso swept around the outside of the current Championship leader into Turn 3.
This left Rosberg in seventh with just Vettel between him and Mercedes team-mate Hamilton behind, who had been one of the benefiters of the early safety car period.
Button’s stint ended on lap 15 as the intermediate tyres proved to be the wrong choice, the McLaren driver pitted for slicks and in turn handed Ricciardo the lead once again.
The second safety car was triggered by a huge crash for Force India’s Sergio Perez along the pit straight, as he lost control on the exit of the final corner and swerved into a heavy impact with the pit wall.
With the race underway once more, Alonso now lead the pack as Vettel, Hamilton and Ricciardo squabbled over fourth and Rosberg pitted for the second time.
As Rosberg came in on lap 32, Vettel had a scary moment in an almost identical incident to Perez’s earlier. The quadruple World Champion went slightly wide in his defence of Hamilton behind, which sent him into a spin across the track. The German miraculously avoided any contact as he recovered his Red Bull in style.
Hamilton took just two laps to dispose of Vergne with a mighty pass around the outside of Turn 4 as he claimed second place. The move was made all the more impressive as his team-mate had previously been stuck behind the Toro Rosso driver for 18 laps.
On lap 51 temperatures rose at Mercedes as Hamilton was told over team radio not to hold up his team-mate behind.
Despite maintaining a gap of over a second the Brit was instructed to “Let Nico past on the main start/finish straight”. However the 2008 World Champion defied team orders with a response of “I’m not slowing down for Nico, get close and then he can overtake me”.
Rosberg was clearly irate about the situation with the knowledge that he had to pit once more, before asking for the second time “why is he not letting me through?” as the positions remained unchanged.
After the final round of pit stops Alonso led from Hamilton and Ricciardo with Rosberg down in seventh on a fresh set of option tyres – leading to a fascinating final 10 lap dash to the finish.
Rosberg quickly moved up through the field, passing both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa within a lap of one another, as he set about chasing down the leaders.
Meanwhile Ricciardo’s charge for the win began with a brilliant manoeuvre on Hamilton around the outside of Turn 3, before out breaking Alonso into the first corner to take the lead of the race.
Two laps remained as Rosberg closed onto the back of the Alonso/Hamilton fight for second place, who were both struggling on old tyres, but the German could not find a way through as Hamilton defended ruthlessly on the final lap.
Massa finished the highest of the Williams in fifth place, ahead of a season’s best result for Raikkonen in sixth, the sister Red Bull of Vettel and team-mate Bottas in eighth.
The Toro Rosso of Vergne was rewarded for his fine efforts with a points finish as Button recovered to finish 10th, with Adrian Sutil just missing out on collecting Sauber’s first points of the year.
Following his second Grand Prix win, Ricciardo admitted: “It felt awesome – definitely as good as the first. I think the first is great, but the second you realise a bit quicker what went on and in a way you are able to enjoy it quicker. When I crossed the line I knew what was going down and I let out a lot of emotion.”
“We had to overtake to win the race – we had fresher tyres but I knew it would be an exciting finish” Ricciardo added.
“There was only one way to win it which was getting around them. I tempted Lewis into Turn 2 the previous lap and eventually I got him.
“Once I got close enough to Fernando I knew I had to go for it – I was in a sandwich with Lewis in DRS range so I couldn’t waste too much time. When I got the lead I knew there were a couple of laps to go, and that feels good.”
With the summer break now upon Formula One, a four week gap allows the teams and drivers time to evaluate and prepare as they head into a gruelling second half of the season, beginning with a trip to Spa-Francorchamps on August 24th for the Belgium Grand Prix.