Opposing ideologies on display in Hungary

Bayden Westerweller Roar Guru

By , Bayden Westerweller is a Roar Guru

Tagged:
 ,

4 Have your say

    Ferrari acted entirely as foreseen, while Mercedes adopted more sporting, yet ultimately and perhaps unwittingly magnanimous tactics which could have crucial implications on this season’s championship outcome, as Formula One took its bow ahead of the summer break in Hungary.

    Sebastian Vettel was chaperoned by teammate Kimi Raikkonen to an unnecessarily edgy Ferrari 1-2, borne from the Maranello outfit’s time honoured philosophy of favouring its lead driver at all costs, coupled with Mercedes’ benevolence which created a small window to stimulate the Prancing Horse’s notorious ambivalence.

    Lewis Hamilton endured a listless opening stint highlighted by intermittent communication failures. Vettel’s steering issues – apparent from the outset, but still ahead of a faster Raikkonen following the latter’s stop, and Ferrari’s directive for the Finn to hold station brought the Silver Arrows into the equation and it was here that the title protagonists’ contrasting ideologies were simultaneously displayed.

    Deemed expendable on account of an inconsistent campaign where his best is as good as anybody, while missing in action at worst. An agitated Raikkonen claimed that he could have circulated for longer following Vettel’s stop, and subsequently “had been put under massive pressure for no reason”, yet elicited a calmer response post-race with maximum points secured, “obviously I want to win, but it’s great for the team.”

    It was a possibility of a Ferrari victory weighed against the certainty of Vettel losing points to Hamilton had Raikkonen been unleashed. It was to Mercedes’ credit that the former’s hand was forced though, once again casting it in the undesirable light which has tainted many of its glories, affirming the notion they retain a long-term, collective approach, as callous as it might seem, rather than reacting to a situation objectively.

    Meanwhile, Mercedes’ synonymous proactivity created the means by which a crowd pleasing Raikkonen victory was stopped in its tracks at Hamilton’s behest, with management accepting his proposition to relieve teammate, Valtteri Bottas, for third, with the rider attached that he would redress the position if attempts to dispatch the Ferraris were unsuccessful.

    Lewis Hamilton rounds a corner in his Mercedes Formula One.

    (Image supplied by AMG Petronas Motorsport).

    Considering both of its roster’s livelier state of play in the drivers’ standings, it was a reasonable request which ensured that one wouldn’t be disadvantaged over the other while acting in the best interests of the team. It was a win-win situation on a weekend that they hadn’t expected to compete for victory.

    Despite closing to within a second of Raikkonen, Hamilton’s passing opportunities were scarce and once the flotilla of backmarkers were encountered, the unlikely mission was rendered futile. Of course, it had put undue stress on Ferrari’s pit wall at a crucial juncture in the season which had been leaning towards Mercedes at recent events.

    What Mercedes hadn’t anticipated was a rampant Max Verstappen, neutralised from the podium equation due only to a time penalty for eliminating his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, on the opening lap. Bottas’ fourth position was briefly jeopardised, with only an influx of late race backmarkers affording the Finn breathing space.

    It had been accepted that Hamilton would be forced to retain third out of sheer necessity, thus the sight of the Briton slowing to allow Bottas to recoup the final podium position on the final corner, with Verstappen only a second adrift, was met with polarising sentiment from senior management.

    It wasn’t lost on a livid Toto Wolff, the Austrian fully comprehending that Hamilton had just conceded a further three precious points to Vettel, regardless of the pre-existing arrangement.

    “I’m a man of my word” remarked Hamilton, though the dilemma of the situation hasn’t been swept under the carpet, the three-time champion aware that his act of selflessness could separate himself from another title, “I don’t think I’ll ever get back those three points”, he lamented, as he enters the summer break fourteen points adrift of Vettel.

    One outfit acted as everybody has come to expect, and while they won’t gain any fans, was clearly the right decision. The other, irrespective of whether the outcome was ultimately out of their hands, allowed fate to play itself out and they didn’t die wondering.

    The effect of these contrasting methodologies can’t be quantified until November. For now, Hindsight is a wonderful virtue.