July 27th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - They may not have won the race, or even finished second, but Red Bull had a successful Hungarian Grand Prix nonetheless. Sebastian Vettel took 15 points for third place and Mark Webber scored 12 points for fourth place. The combined 27 points for Red Bull helped the team pull further ahead of their rivals in the Constructors' Championship.
In the "team" race, Red Bull top scored in Hungary with 27 points, followed by Lotus with 26 points and Mercedes with 25 points. Ferrari, who are currently third in the Constructors' table, took home only 14 points, as Alonso finished fifth and Massa eighth.
Red Bull are now 69 points clear of Mercedes, which is by no means an insurmountable lead. But it is significant and puts Red Bull in a very strong position to retain their Constructors' crown this season.
Sebastian Vettel has become so accustomed to winning that he looked disappointed on the podium after the Hungarian Grand Prix. He "only" finished third. Vettel's remarkable consistency has resulted in him finishing in the top four in every race this season, barring the British Grand Prix where he retired with a mechanical failure.
Today, Vettel's chances of victory were destroyed when he emerged behind Jenson Button after his first pitstop. On a circuit where it is notoriously difficult to pass, Vettel struggled to overtake Button and sustained some damage to his front wing during the battle with the McLaren. By the time he eventually made it past, Hamilton was too far ahead to be challenged, and Vettel found himself racing Kimi Raikkonen instead. Raikkonen managed to stay ahead in a tense battle towards the end of the race, and Vettel had to settle for third, despite his best efforts to pass the Finn.
Mark Webber's race went as well as could have been expected. He started 10th after KERS issues hurt his qualifying performance on Saturday. But after not setting a lap time in the final part of qualifying, Webber had the option of starting the race on the medium compound tyres, which he did. He was able to run much longer than the other front-runners in the early part of the race, which put him right in contention for a strong result.
After his final pitstop, during which he put on the soft tyres for the only time in the race, Webber set about chasing down Vettel and Raikkonen ahead of him. For a few laps, it looked like he had the pace to challenge for the podium, but his tyres wore too quickly and his pace dropped off. Nonetheless, fourth place was a very strong result from 10th on the grid.
This is what the drivers had to say after the race:
Sebastian Vettel: “I would have loved the race to have been a bit longer, as it was fun with Kimi at the end. It’s hard to pass on this track, I got close but I wasn’t in the prime overtaking spot at that point; I was trying to set something up for the next corners, but it didn’t work.
The key issue in the race was when I got stuck behind Jenson, there’s no one to blame for that, I lost more time than expected on the way into the first stop and we came out just behind him. I couldn’t get past; I tried to force it and damaged my front wing, which was a mistake from my side. I was maybe trying to urge a bit too much. It was close with Kimi and nice to be on the podium again today. Congratulations to Lewis, he did a good job today.”
Mark Webber: “I think we had the right strategy. We knew there was a lot of pressure on getting a good first lap and I got some clear air, which worked well. The start was okay and the first sector was very good, I was able to put a bit of pressure on Kimi and then we just settled in. I had a pretty tricky car for the first three or four laps, as I knew the option tyres were quite grippy and after that we just got our heads down. I don’t think we could have got much more than that result today. The strategy was pretty solid and you have to pace the option tyres until the end.”