Thursday. 30.11.2023

Bottas punished for mass Hungary crash as Vettel sits in limbo

Valtteri Bottas faces a five-place grid penalty when the season resumes in Spa in four weeks with suspected long Covid sufferer Lewis Hamilton back at the top of the championship
31 July 2021, Hungary, Mogyorod: Finnish F1 driver Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes-AMG F1 Team in action during the qualifying session of the Grand Prix of Hungary Formula One race at the Hungaroring track. Photo: James Gasperotti/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
Finnish F1 driver Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes in action during the qualifying session of the Grand Prix of Hungary. Photo: James Gasperotti/dpa.

The Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix had so much drama that Esteban Ocon's maiden victory has been somewhat overshadowed.

Even the Frenchman will admit his win for Alpine only came about because Mercedes' Valterri Bottas took out several contenders at the first corner and damaged Max Verstappen's Red Bull to such a degree that the Dutchman had no hope of winning.

Bottas apologized, calling the incident "a mess", but that did not stop stewards imposing a five-place grid penalty on the Finn for the next Belgian Grand Prix on August 29 along with Lance Stroll.

Verstappen, who lost the barge board on his right-hand side, sneaked into the points but is now second in the standings having also been taken out by new leader Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes at the British Grand Prix.

"The last two races were totally crap," the Dutchman exclaimed.

Verstappen also has the problem that he has used up his three allotted engines for the season. He switched after Budapest qualifying when his power unit was deemed to be carrying damage from the Silverstone crash.

With 12 rounds left and given the Hungaroring crash, it seems likely he will have to change engines again at some point which would trigger a grid-place penalty.

Hamilton, who says he believes he is suffering from long Covid, began on pole and may have won the race if Mercedes had not opted to keep him out on wet tyres for the restart after the crash.

The decision prompted one of the most bizarre sights in F1, Hamilton the only man out for the race restart with every other car in the pits switching to dry rubbers.

Hamilton leads

The British defending champion pitted on the next lap and was last, before a second tyre change after 20 laps put him in front of the struggling Verstappen as Hamilton charged up the field.

Whether Hamilton now leads Verstappen by six points or nine points in the title race depends on whether Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel wins his appeal after being disqualified from second place for not ensuring that a 1 litre sample of fuel could be taken from his car.

If the German loses the appeal, Hamilton is definitely bumped up to second in the race.

"We showed that our car has strong race pace. Onwards and upwards," Aston Martin said in a statement as they announced they planned to appeal.

Budapest had pretty much everything. F1, and especially Hamilton, now need the four-week break to recharge. But Spa will have to be an incredible race to match the chaos of Hungary.

Bottas punished for mass Hungary crash as Vettel sits in limbo