Roger Diez: Poor start, terrific battle in Hungary

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

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The only major race last Sunday was the Hungarian Grand Prix for Formula 1, and it was perhaps the most bizarre race of the season so far.
It started with a bang (several bangs in fact) when Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas, who had made a poor start, misjudged his braking point on the wet track entering turn one. He rear-ended the McLaren of Lando Norris who careened into Max Verstappen while Bottas’s damaged car smacked into Sergio Perez. Four cars ended their race right there, while the Red Bull team scrambled to repair Verstappen’s seriously wounded machine during a red flag for debris cleanup. Norris limped into the pits, but the car was too badly damaged, and he also retired.
Coming to the restart on a rapidly drying track, everyone pitted but leader Lewis Hamilton to change onto slicks. He pitted next lap but dropped to the rear of the pack while Alpine’s Esteban Ocon led from Sebastian Vettel in his Aston Martin. It was a terrific battle that went down to the end, with Ocon scoring his first F1 victory.
Hamilton worked his way through the field until he encountered Ocon’s teammate Fernando Alonso, who earned the Driver of he Day award by holding Hamilton up for 10 laps while teammate Ocon pulled away. Finally passing Alonso, Hamilton advanced to third before the checkered flag flew. He was elevated to second when Vettel was disqualified for having insufficient fuel remaining in the fuel cell. Aston Martin has appealed the penalty.
Hamilton now has an eight point lead over Verstappen in the drivers’ championship and Mercedes is 12 points ahead of Red Bull in the constructors’ title chase.
The series will return on the last week of August for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps.
Although F1 is on hiatus, it’s a busy weekend on this side of the pond with NASCAR, IndyCar, and IMSA all back in action. All three top NASCAR divisions are racing this weekend on the Watkins Glen road course, the NTT IndyCar series is on the streets of Nashville and IMSA takes to the Road America course.
At the Glen, Chase Elliott has a chance to become the third driver in NASCAR history and the first in this century to pull off the hat trick there. Elliott has won the last two outings at the upstate New York road course (there was no race there in 2020) and Sunday might be his third in a row. The other two drivers who have pulled off the triple are Mark Martin (1993-4-5) and Jeff Gordon (1997-8-9).
Elliott is the only two-time winner since 2012, Martin Truex Jr. winning in 2017, Denny Hamlin in 2016, Joey Logano in 2015, A.J. Allmendinger in 2014, and Kyle Busch in 2013.
Given his record on road courses, I think Elliott will pull off the hat trick, but any of the recent winners plus Kyle Larson are also good possibilities. The Camping World truck race airs at 9:30 a.m. Saturday on FS1 with the Xfinity series following on NBCSN at 1 p.m. Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race will air at noon on MSNBC.
The NTT IndyCar series takes to the streets of Nashville this weekend for the first time on a bumpy 11-turn, 2.17 mile course through the streets of Music City. The course will take the cars over the Cumberland River on the Korean Veterans Memorial bridge, utilizing the bridge in both directions! The race airs on NBCSN Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
NBCSN has one of its busiest days of racing Sunday as the IMSA Sports Car Championship race from Road America (site of recent IndyCar and NASCAR races) will air on tape delay at 5 p.m.


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