Alpine’s Esteban Ocon took a maiden Formula 1 victory in an extraordinary and madcap Hungarian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton regained the world championship lead for the first time since May after fighting back to finish third having been last five laps into the race.
His title rival Max Verstappen was a victim of an incident-strewn wet start but managed to salvage a point for 10th place in a badly damaged Red Bull.
A race featuring an opening first few laps among the most remarkable in Formula 1 history left Hamilton with a six-point lead over Verstappen as the sport goes into its three-week summer break.
A pile-up at the first corner on a slippery track left Hamilton briefly leading Ocon and Aston Martin‘s Sebastian Vettel on the first lap before the race was red-flagged to clear up the mess strewn over the track.
Extraordinarily, when the race restarted, Hamilton was the only car on the grid for a second start as every other driver made pit stops for dry-weather slick tyres because the sun had come out and the track was almost dry.
Hamilton had to stop at the end of the next lap, dropping to the tail of the field, leaving Ocon to fend off Vettel for the rest of the race.
Vettel tried to pass a number of times, but Ocon – a former Mercedes young driver – held on for the entire 70 laps to take a superb first win.
Ocon’s team-mate Fernando Alonso played an important role in securing the win for the Frenchman, defending valiantly against Hamilton for 10 laps in the closing stages.
Hamilton, having fought his way back up to fourth from last, made a pit stop with 23 laps to go to fit fresh tyres and make a bold bid for victory.
The Mercedes driver had the pace to make it happen and might have done, had Alonso not held him off for lap after lap with a display of tough racecraft, a couple of times just on the edge of acceptability.
After Hamilton finally got past Alonso with five laps to go, he passed Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz two laps later and charged up to the front two, finishing just 0.8secs behind Vettel, with Sainz fourth and Alonso fifth.
What happened at the start?
A race that will go down as one of the most remarkable ever seen was gripping from start to finish, and the action was caused by rain which started about half an hour before the race.
At the start on a wet track, Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas misjudged his braking point and cannoned into McLaren’s Lando Norris, who was pushed into Verstappen. Bottas also then took out the second Red Bull of Sergio Perez.
The Finn has been given a five-place grid penalty at the next race in Belgium on the last weekend in August.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was briefly looking at seventh place behind Hamilton, only for Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll to make a mistake, brake too late, slide onto the grass and smash into the Ferrari, which then tipped McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo into a spin.
With debris all over the track, the red flag was thrown and the cars returned to the pits, where Red Bull set about trying to repair Verstappen’s car.
The damage was extensive, with chunks missing from the floor and his entire right-hand barge-board gone, causing significant amounts of lost downforce.
Verstappen took the restart in 13th place and was faced with a long afternoon battling a car with no balance and lacking a lot of grip. But he fought valiantly and managed to separate Ricciardo from the final points place in the closing stages.
How did Hamilton end up last from the lead?
By the time the race restarted, the rain had stopped and the sun was out, but all the drivers were on intermediate tyres when they set off on the formation lap for another standing start.
Hamilton was telling his team the track was ready for slicks but he did not come in – whereas everyone else did. That created the surreal sight of just one car on the grid for the start of the race.
The extra pace the slick tyres gave the rest of the field meant when Hamilton pitted for his own slicks next time around, he was shunted to the back in 14th place after six cars had retired. The question became how much ground he could recover on a track on which overtaking is notoriously difficult.
He had made three places when he pitted on lap 19 for fresh tyres, the idea being to run in clear air and then make up places on those on older tyres in front of him.
By lap 46, Hamilton was up to fourth place behind Ocon, Vettel and Sainz when he pitted again for fresh tyres.
The move dropped him a further place behind Alonso, but the hope was he could pass all the cars in front to take an unlikely win.
But Alonso, who was showing strong pace himself and had closed up to the back of Sainz, had other ideas, and in one of the greatest displays of defensive driving for years held off the much faster Mercedes for 10 nail-biting laps, before he ran a little too deep into Turn One with five laps to go, giving Hamilton the chance to pass into Turn Two.
What about the winner?
Ocon led the race from Hamilton’s first stop.
Vettel had more pace, but Ocon drove with great maturity to fend off the German for the entire race.
A slow pit stop by Vettel and Aston Martin mid-race gave Ocon breathing space to come in next time around without too much pressure and retain the lead.
In the remaining laps, Vettel got close on a couple of occasions but Ocon was always just out of reach and held on for his first win.
It was the team’s first victory in its new guise of Alpine and the first since Kimi Raikkonen won the 2013 Australian Grand Prix, when they were known as Lotus.
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F1 Hungarian GP: Esteban Ocon takes victory after eventful race – as it happened
Esteban Ocon won a dramatic Hungarian GP as Lewis
Hamilton finished third to take the lead in the world championship
Mercedes accuse Red Bull of trying to tarnish Hamilton
Well that was a frequently breathtaking race, with a horribly messy start, some compelling battles and a debutant winner in the hugely likeable Esteban Ocon.
The title race has been well and truly shaken up again with Lewis Hamilton regaining the lead from Max Verstappen on another nightmare afternoon for Red Bull. The Briton leads the world championship standings by six points as we head into the summer break, and there’s all to look forward to when racing resumes. Thanks for your attention, emails and tweets. Bye.
ettel speaks: “I’m probably a little bit disappointed, I felt I was a little bit faster for the majority of the race but couldn’t get close enough and he stayed on track, a great result for us but you’re aways looking at the win rather than second.
Of the mayhem at the start he adds: “A very very bad start but it turns out that it was the best place to be. I took it easy and took the inside line which was clean. We are very close with Esteban in terms of pace. I tried to push him into a mistake but like I said he did well to defend like he did.
Hamilton’s up next: “Huge congrats to the Alpine team and Esteban whose been a shining star for some time and I’m really happy for him,” says the reigning champion.
“Generally had an amazing crowd this weekend and thank you for all being here.
Today was definitely tough – we always make it difficult for ourselves – and amazing to think we were the only ones on the grid at the start. I gave everything I had and had nothing left at the end.”
On the issue of that curious second start, he says: “The team said rain was coming so I saw everyone diving into the pits but we stayed – we came here this weekend not knowing how it would go and considering he start today I’ll take it.”
And here’s Ocon, the winner:
“What a moment. It feels so good.
We had some difficult moments that we overcame together with the team but what can I say? It’s fantastic. The teamwork all round – it’s been a fantastic day. Just a big thankyou for the trust everyone is putting into me. We are back where we belong so that’s fantastic. Sebastian put me under big pressure. As for his teammate, Alonso: “He is awesome to work with, Fernando, we are working together pushing the team to improve, he’s a fantastic guy and I’m really enjoying the collaboration. I wish everyone was here to celebrate.”
Esteban Ocon claims maiden F1 win in chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix
Frenchman’s victory is also a first for the Alpine team
Lewis Hamilton third to retake lead in title race
Esteban Ocon won the Hungarian Grand Prix, grabbing his chance to put in a peerless performance for Alpine as the leading contenders were waylaid in dramatic fashion. The Frenchman saw off a fierce challenge for almost the entire race distance from Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel in second. Lewis Hamilton came back brilliantly to third after dropping to the back of the field while Max Verstappen was tenth after being hit on the opening lap. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was in fourth, with Ocon’s teammate Fernando Alonso in fifth.
It was a superb first career win for the 24-year-old Frenchman who had Vettel barely a second behind him for almost the entire race and a consummate display of controlled driving under pressure. But for Hamilton and Verstappen the race was about damage limitation. Hamilton had dropped to last after a restart where Mercedes did not pit their man for dry tyres as the rest of the field did so. He drove the wheels off his Mercedes to comeback for third in dramatic fashion. Verstappen took damage after being hit in turn one off the start line and could do nothing more with his stricken car.
F1 Hungarian GP: Esteban Ocon takes victory after eventful race – as it happened
The result ensures that Hamilton goes into F1’s summer break having retaken the lead of the championship by six points from Verstappen, having been 33 points behind the Dutchman before the last round at Silverstone.
It is Alpine’s first win as a constructor and for the parent company Renault their first since Alonso won in Japan in 2008. As a squad the Enstone-based team have not won since Kimi Raikkonen did so in Australia 2013.
Rain had begun to fall just 20 minutes before the start and the teams opened the race on the intermediate wet tyres. From a standing start Hamilton made it away cleanly in front but his teammate Valtteri Bottas went backwards from second to fifth. Going through turn one the Finn was too hot and slid into the McLaren of Lando Norris who collected Verstappen, taking them both off.
The safety car was immediately called as Verstappen dropped to 13th, having taken a big impact and sustained damage but Norris was ultimately retired. The race was stopped soon afterwards and Red Bull had the chance to make emergency repairs to Verstappen’s car doing their best with the duct tape to patch up the damage but it was extensive, to the floor, sidepods and bargeboards.
At the restart, as the safety car led the cars back to the start the entire grid dived into the pits to take dry tyres with only Hamilton not doing so, he took the standing start entirely alone. He was forced to pit at the end of the lap but with the rest of the field effectively having a free stop Hamilton emerged at the back of the field.
With the expected order thrown to the wind Ocon led for Alpine from Vettel while Hamilton was 14th with Verstappen in 11th.
Hamilton was calm on the radio and race engineer Peter Bonnington told him: “You can still win this”. He passed Antonio Giovinazzi on lap 10 to take 13 th and was 24 seconds off the lead. With an undamaged car he had the pace but the tricky part was making passes through the tight corners in Budapest.
Mercedes took a chance pitting Hamilton again on lap 20 to take the hard rubber and try and find him some clean air, put in some hot laps and undercut the rest of the field.
Red Bull duly pitted Verstappen a lap later to cover Hamilton but the world champion had done an immense out-lap and emerged in ninth in front of the Dutchman. His lap had been two seconds faster than that of the leaders.
Out front Ocon and Vettel had opened a 16-second gap to the field in a tense fight of their own while Hamilton continued pumping in fastest laps and had moved up to seventh by lap 27, then sweeping past Yuki Tsunoda in a fine move at turn four for fifth on lap 32.
He was 36 seconds behind the leaders with 38 laps remaining and two seconds from Sainz in fourth. Vettel and Ocon took their final stops on lap 36 and 37, with the Frenchman maintaining his lead and Hamilton in fourth after Alonso also pitted.
Verstappen could do nothing however with the damage to his car severely clearly curtailing his pace. Hamilton pitted again for fresh rubber on lap 47 looking for a tyre advantage to make passing more achievable with 23 laps remaining. He emerged in fifth behind Alonso and 25 seconds off Ocon but was immediately four seconds quicker than his rivals.
Mercedes had made the right call on both his stops to make up for their failure to pit him before the restart. On lap 54 he caught Alonso who defended brilliantly as Hamilton ducked and dived through turns two to four but the Spaniard would simply not yield until pushed to the limit he locked up through turn one and Hamilton made it stick on lap 65. Sainz fell two laps later but Ocon and Vettel were out of touch out front. Hamilton closed to within two seconds to secure an unlikely podium and the title lead with his second comeback drive in successive races.
Pierre Gasly was in sixth for AlphaTauri with his teammate Tsunoda in Seventh. Nicholas Latifi and George Russell were in eighth and ninth for Williams.
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Esteban José Jean-Pierre Ocon-Khelfane
(born 17 September 1996) is a French racing driver who competes for Alpine in Formula One. He made his Formula One debut for Manor Racing in the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix, replacing Rio Haryanto. Ocon was a part of the Mercedes driver development programme until his move to Renault. In 2020, he achieved his first podium in Formula One by finishing second at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix. He took his maiden Formula One victory in the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix.
What is Esteban Ocon doing now?
Ocon joined Renault for 2020, signing a two-year contract and marking his return to Formula One as a full-time driver.
What is Esteban Ocon salary?
Renault DP World F1 Team
Driver Age Salary
Daniel Ricciardo 30 $32,000,000
Esteban Ocon 23 $6,000,000
Where does Esteban Ocon come from?
Does Nico Hulkenberg have children?
Nico has also been the champion of the 2009 GP2 Series, Formula 3 Euro Series, and A1 Grand Prix, with A1 Team Germany.
What is Esteban Ocon net worth?
Esteban Ocon is 24 years old and was born on September 17, 1996. What is the net worth of Esteban Ocon? Esteban Ocon has a net worth of $5 million.
Is Esteban Ocon still a Mercedes?
“Esteban, it’s a little bit of a weird situation, because he’s been a Mercedes junior for a long time, and he’s an Alpine works driver now and that’s fact,” said Wolff.