‘Nando’s ship-jumping antics at the end of 2014 have at times seemed like hopping from a sturdy aircraft carrier to the remnants of the Titanic, with Ferrari’s resurgence impressively – but sadly – juxtaposing McLaren’s spluttering Honda-powered headache.
Indeed, transferring from the team that have thus far been the only ones to block the path of the Silver Arrows to the team that have had the most power units expire may seem like a bit of a bum deal, but yesterday’s scintillating Hungarian GP was perhaps a sign of the Spaniard’s patience coming to fruition, where he was able to take home ten juicy points.
The last time anything powered by a Honda engine took home that many World Championship points, Jenson Button won his first race – incidentally in Hungary too – and the track in Budapest must be something of a good luck charm for the Briton, because he too was in the points on Sunday, finishing ninth on the road.
The team’s first double-points finish since Brazil 2014 came at the right time, as Woking’s finest end the first half of the season on a high, thanks to some true resilience from Button and Alonso.
The sheer determination the Spaniard showed on Saturday was phenomenal, quite literally dragging his McLaren back to the pits when it stopped during Q2, and though it meant he started down in 15th place, he overcame the setback and climbed ten places come the end of the race, thanks to a bit of luck, a great scrap with Carlos Sainz, and a handful of overtakes.
Well done Fernando, you’re our Top Dog for Hungary!
Please bare with us if you don’t agree…this was probably the hardest Top Dog we have EVER had to decide! Here are a few honourable mentions for the drivers we really considered too:
Sebastian Vettel – For dominating the race like we became so used to in 2011 and 2013, dedicating his win to Jules Bianchi, and proving once and for all that it is the driver and not the car that makes a great performance.
Daniil Kvyat – For taking his first ever podium, and taking the accolade for best finish for a Russian driver, beating Vitaly Petrov’s 3rd place from Australia 2011. Sure, it may have been the result of Rosberg and Ricciardo’s clash, but you have to be in it to win it, or… er, finish in second place. Some (myself included) have at times wondered why Red Bull opted to promote the young STR graduate ahead of Vergne last year, but a first podium is the best way to silence those voices.
Pastor Maldonado – For, somehow, accruing three separate penalties in one race.
Daniel Ricciardo – For teasing with shades of last year’s closing-laps heroics. The Aussie bore down on a Ferrari and Mercedes ahead that looked slower, and it appeared that daring Dan’s overtaking prowess would emerge twice in a row in Budapest, but his collision with Rosberg put paid to that. Still, he made the most of Red Bull’s aerodynamic supremacy on the twisty track to take his first podium of the year, despite pitting for a new front wing.
Max Verstappen – For nearly scoring more points in one race than years he’s been alive and finishing an unthinkable fourth, despite a drive through penalty. Looked like he might jump Ricciardo when he pitted for repairs at the end of the race, but fourth place in a Toro Rosso seems to make drivers happy enough. Here’s the eventual race winner proving that, back in 2007:
Whether he’ll be continuing that after the summer break, we don’t know.