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Vettel manages his way to tense Hungarian GP victory [UPDATED]

Championship leader Sebastian Vettel took victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday, despite having to manage steering problems throughout the 70-lap race, while Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen was second and Valtteri Bottas third for Mercedes.

“I am over the moon,” said Vettel. “It was a really difficult race, maybe it didn’t look like that, but I had my hands full three or four laps after the safety car.

“There was something wrong. I don’t know why, the steering started to go sideways and it seemed to get worse. Then I stayed off the kerbs and tried to save the car.

“It wasn’t easy and I didn’t do a favour to Kimi, who could obviously go faster. I didn’t have the pace, but towards the end it did come back a bit and I had a couple of laps where I had a bit of a cushion and could breathe a bit. But yeah, I really had to stay focused the whole race.

“It was really tough – but a great result and a great day.”

Vettel led the race effectively throughout, only losing P1 during the pit stop period, but reporting early on that he was having issues with the steering hanging to the left on the straights.

After his stop on lap 33, Vettel re-joined just in front of Raikkonen, but the Ferraris then came under pressure from Mercedes, with Bottas allowing Lewis Hamilton by on lap 45.

Hamilton was then able to close right up setting up a tense and nail biting second half, but was unable to find away by, and on the final lap and in the final corner, the Briton let his team-mate back by.

The result sees Vettel extend his Championship lead from 1 point to 14 ahead of F1’s summer break.

“I don’t know [what happened with the steering],” Vettel added after taking his fourth win of the season and his first since May’s Monaco Grand Prix. “We will have a look, but it is a really weird feeling because basically it was tilted to the left.

“So you go down the straights and the steering isn’t straight and in right-handers it is sort of okay, but in left-handers you have to get use to it. After a couple of laps it is okay but if it keeps changing all the time it is difficult because you have to go further than you want.

“Not ideal, but as I said it doesn’t matter now. Big thank-you to the team and a great race.”

“Unfortunately I couldn’t give them [my fans] the win, but we had a 1-2 as a team and I had a great car today,” Raikkonen commented.

“Obviously I had the mistake yesterday in qualifying and I got a good start, but I didn’t want to force the issue. After that I just kept following for the 70 laps. Not ideal because I want to win, but it is a great result for the team.”

“At the end I was getting a little bit worried [as to whether or not Lewis would give the place back] as the gap was increasing and I really struggled with the backmarkers. I was a bit unlucky with them also,” Bottas continued.

“But really thanks to Lewis for keeping the promise and letting me by in the end because I gave him the shot to try and get passed the Ferraris. It is a shame. We had good pace in the end today but with the starting positions we couldn’t finish any better.”

Meanwhile, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen came home fifth, running long and closing right up on Bottas in the second stint, before eventually finishing less than a second back after the two Mercedes’ swapped positions.

Verstappen’s race, however, was compromised at the start after he made contact with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo into Turn 2 and put the Australian out.

The safety car was deployed as a result – helping the teams to stop only once – but although the Dutchman was able to continue he picked up a 10-sec penalty for after the stewards judged he was guilty of causing a collision.

Behind, McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso took his best result of the year in sixth – the only other driver not to be lapped – and he also set the fastest lap of the race at the end.

Compatriot and Toro Rosso driver Carlo Sainz was next up in seventh with Force India duo Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon eighth and ninth.

Stoffel Vandoorne rounded out the top-ten in his McLaren-Honda, the first time this season he has scored.

Haas F1 pilot Kevin Magnussen brought his car home in eleventh, but was classified 13th and behind Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat and Renault’s Jolyon Palmer after he incurred a 5-sec time penalty for forcing the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg off-track in the closing stages.

Hulkenberg later parked his car, but was still classified as a finisher, albeit 3 laps down.

Williams’ Lance Stroll and Pascal Wehrlein and Marcus Ericsson were the only other finishers in positions 14 through to 16 – although both Sauber’s were 2 laps down.

In terms of retirements, in addition to Hulkenberg and Ricciardo – the latter of course eliminated at the start after Verstappen locked-up and ran into him – Paul di Resta and Romain Grosjean also failed to get to the end. Grosjean had to stop on lap 21 after a botched pit stop left him with a crossed wheel nut, while di Resta retired with 10 laps remaining due to an oil leak.

Race Result available – HERE.

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