No podium but Ricciardo driver of the day

Lewis Hamilton took his Mercedes to an easy win at the 2018 Formula One Hungary Grand Prix, his sixth victory at the Hungaroring — but driver of the day was Daniel Ricciardo.

The Australian ace wasn’t given much chance after a disastrous qualifying session in heavy rain which left him starting from 12th place.

Then he was hit by both Saubers at the start and dropped to 16th.

But once it was established his Red Bull Renault was mechanically fine, he set about hunting down the leaders and claimed a sensational fourth place after a fractious battle with Valtteri Bottas, who had elbowed Ricciardo off the circuit on the 68th of the 70-lap race.

“You can still get him,” his radio crackled, and that was what Ricciardo did on the last lap.

Up front, Hamilton had an unchallenged run and was backed up by teammate Bottas for 98 per cent of the race, but a late scrap with the hard-charging Sebastien Vettel, again including a physical brush on lap 65, left the Finn with no front wing.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen pounced on  the wounded Merc, as did Ricciardo.

It was a bittersweet day for Red Bull on a twisty circuit most likely to suit their great handling cars.

Max Verstappen was running in fifth place when his car’s engine expired on lap 6.

“No power, no power,” the Dutchman radioed as he parked the Red Bull, followed by a series of choice expletives.

At the same time, Ricciardo, who was bumped by not one, but both Saubers at the start, ran off the track while trying to pass Stoffel Vandoorne’s McLaren on lap 5.

But fought back to 11th by lap 9 after a fiery dice with Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, then got by Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg to claim 9th and continued picking off one rival after the other until he got past the impressive Pierre Gasly’s Toro Rosso for 5th by lap 27.

He also claimed the fastest lap.

Gasly, in the Honda-powered Toro Rosso, went on the finish sixth, followed by the Haas of Kevin Magnussen, Alonso’s McLaren with Carlos Sainz 9th for Renault and Romain Grosjean taking the final championship point for Haas.

It was bad luck for McLaren, which looked like having both drivers in the points for most of the ace, but Belgian driver Vandoorne had to retire with a gearbox problem in the final stages.

Ricciardo later said he was determined to pass Bottas even though he felt the stewards would penalise the Finn for his aggressive move.

A 10 second post-race penalty was later applied, but it did not affect Bottas’ fifth place — and as Ricciardo got past the Mercedes on the last lap he rewarded Bottas with a cheeky one-fingered salute.

“We had a pretty good car, so in the end it was a good result for us,” he said.

“I had some fun with my pace advantage and I was happy to finish and get some points and have a race I feel I maximised.”

The F1 season has now gone on its summer break, with the next round at Spa four weeks from now.

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