Budapest – Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel won an action-packed Hungarian Grand Prix for the first time on Sunday, while Nico Rosberg saw his chance to catch Lewis Hamilton in the title race disappear with a puncture near the end.
Four-time F1 champion Vettel started third on the grid. It was his 41st career win — moving him level with Brazilian great Ayrton Senna — and his first since the Malaysian GP in the second race of this season.
Red Bull took advantage of late chaos as Russian driver Daniil Kvyat placed second and Daniel Ricciardo, who clipped Rosberg, took third.
Vettel’s win put the German driver back into the title race, as Hamilton finished sixth and Rosberg placed eighth.
Vettel dedicated his win to Jules Bianchi, the French driver who died last week at the age of 25 from injuries sustained in a head-on crash at the Japanese GP last October.
“Merci Jules, cette victoire est pour toi,” (Thank you Jules, this win is for you),” Vettel said in French on race radio, before continuing in English. “You are always in our hearts, sooner or later we know you would have been in this team.”
A poignant minute’s silence was held in honor of Bianchi before the race, with drivers forming a ring and placing their race helmets on the ground.
“Mentioning Senna’s record is something incredible. I don’t know how to put this in words. But nevertheless this is for Jules and his family,” Vettel said. “We know it has been an incredibly tough week, and for all of us very difficult, so this one is for him.”
Bianchi’s mother Christine and father Philippe, brother Tom and sister Melanie joined them as they all linked arms on the Hungaroring grid.
“I gave it everything and I owe my race to Jules,” Ricciardo said. “I gained extra strength today and I owe that to him.”
In a thrilling finale, 17-year-old Max Verstappen just missed out on becoming the youngest-ever podium finisher when he placed fourth and Fernando Alonso took fifth to give struggling McLaren a much-needed boost.
The race completely changed after German driver Nico Hulkenberg crashed and the virtual safety car came out, with Vettel in total control at that point.