Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo swept past Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Mercedes Lewis Hamilton to win a thrilling Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest, which was broadcast on NBC Sports cable channel. Perhaps the most controversial news was the refusal of Hamilton to follow Mercedes team orders and allow his teammate Nico Rosberg to pass him.
Ricciardo and Red Bull were rewarded by their decision to make a third pit stop and collect fresh tires late in the race. The new tires appeared to give Ricciardo the advantage in the late going as he passed race leader Alonso and second place Hamilton in the closing laps.
But the season-long soap opera between world championship leader Rosberg and second place Hamilton reached new heights when Mercedes management radioed Hamilton to slow and allow Rosberg to pass him on the slow Hungaroring Circuit outside beautiful Budapest. In an unusual show of independence or defiance, depending on one's point of view, Hamilton radioed back on international television that he wouldn't slow to allow his teammate to pass. Rosberg would have to work for it.
The drama is only increased by the fact Rosberg and Hamilton are fighting tooth and nail for the world driver's championship at the halfway point of the season. The next race will be in three weeks at the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa.
Mercedes orders were apparently based on the fact Hamilton was on the harder compound, slick tires which would not require him to make another pit stop. Rosberg would require yet another pit stop because he was on softer, intermediate tires. Hamilton saw it differently. He trails Rosberg in the world championship race by eleven points after finishing third, once place ahead of his teammate today.
Rosberg has compiled 202 points thus far while Hamilton has 191 points following Sunday's race in the middle of the picturesque Hungarian countryside near the historic Danube River. Ricciardo is the only non-Mercedes driver to win a Formula One race this year. He previously won the Candadian Grand Prix. He increased his points toal to 131 and may have moved into the championship race as a result of his incredible finish today
The constructor's championship may be over though as Mercedes has the lion's share with 393 points, Red Bull is second at 219, Ferrari has 142 points and Williams is at 135.
Crashes, safety cars and rain created an uncertain atmosphere for the race which forced teams to make frequent decisions throughout regarding tires. Ricciardo and Red Bull were the first to enter the pits and change tires as the track dried quickly. That decisive decision was probably the turning point of the race as Nico Rosberg was race leader at the time. Rains had drenched the track earlier before the race.
The international Formula One circuit will come to the United States in October for the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin this year.
Hamilton's refusal to follow team orders was almost unprecedented. Mercedes indicated they would hold an inquiry into the incident. An irritated Rosberg said after the race he would not comment on the controversial situation.
"It is better to handle it internally," the German driver said on NBC Sports immediately following the race.
Hamilton seemed almost downhearted on the podium as he was handed his trophy for third place. Possibly the Btitish driver is dreading the upcoming internal meeting at Mercedes when Rosberg and he will meet behind closed doors with Mercedes ownership and principles.
Hamilton said afterwards that he was shocked by the team orders for him to slow and allow his main rival for the world championshipt to pass him, according to Autosport. He may not be in hot water after all as Mercedes leader and former world champion Nikki Lauda defended Hamilton's defiance of team orders, saying Rosberg was never close enough to justify such an order.
This Formula One season may be one of the most exciting in recent history as the rivalry between the two teammates heats up. The recent news of seven-time champion Michael Schumacher's improvement after his skiing accident has certainly brightened the mood of Formula One fans this year. He may even be home with wife Corinna before the season's end.