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How Esteban Ocon won the Hungarian Grand Prix

It was a dramatic race on Sunday which led to Esteban Ocon's first ever win in Formula 1. RacingNews365.com outlines the key factors to Ocon's victory.

Very few people would have put money on Esteban Ocon winning the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix, but that's exactly what happened as Alpine also won their first race as a constructor in Formula 1. From eighth on the grid in a car which has been towards the backend of the midfield at times this year, it seemed like an impossible task at the start of the day. However, the old saying of anything can happen in F1 struck Budapest at the weekend and it paved the way for a remarkable victory for Ocon and Alpine.

Chaos at the start

A damp track forced everyone to start on the intermediate tyres. The last proper wet running was at the second event of the year in Imola which may have contributed to the mess at Turn 1. Valtteri Bottas had a poor start and missed his braking point which sent him into the back of Lando Norris. Norrs then hit Max Verstappen whilst Bottas also took out Sergio Perez with a secondary collision off the track at the same corner. Lance Stroll also misjudged his braking, taking to the grass as he slid into Charles Leclerc who made contact with Daniel Ricciardo. All of this mayhem moved Ocon into second place behind Lewis Hamilton with Sebastian Vettel sitting in third.

Hamilton makes the wrong move

On the formation lap, the team cannot communicate with the drivers about strategic decisions. It was up to Hamilton to decide whether to pit for dry tyres or not as the sun came out in Budapest. Hamilton ultimately made the wrong call and incredibly took to the grid for the standing start restart by himself as every other driver pitted for dry tyres. When Hamilton did pit, he was the last of the remaining runners which also gave Ocon the lead.

Vettel's slow pit stop

Aston Martin went for the undercut as Vettel appeared to have more pace than Ocon but could not find a way by in the opening third of the race. Nevertheless, Vettel had a chance during the pit stop phase but Aston Martin's 3.3 second pit stop for Vettel versus a 2.3 second pit stop for Ocon, was another opportunity squandered. Vettel was right on Ocon's tail when the Alpine driver came out of the pits and made his way through the opening turns on cold, hard tyres. A fastest final sector of the race demonstrated how quick Vettel's out lap was and a normal two and a half second pit stop would have almost certainly got him alongside Ocon going into Turn 1 or Turn 2. There were also a few small mistakes from Vettel who was pushing hard which costed him a few more opportunities to be in a position to overtake Ocon.

Alonso holds Hamilton back

Fernando Alonso played a big role for his team's victory as he somehow kept a rapid Hamilton behind for eight laps. It was one of the greatest battles in F1 this year between two world champions. Alonso was very aggressive, but fair, with his defending as he positioned his car perfectly to keep Hamilton behind. Hamilton was going over three seconds quicker than everyone else on the track before he got to the back of Alonso so the Spaniard's remarkable racecraft definitely helped Ocon to victory given how quickly Hamilton overtook Sainz and subsequently how fast he caught Vettel until the chequered flag came out. If Alonso only held Hamilton up for five laps, it may not have been a good enough buffer for Ocon as the seven-time world champion was just 2.7 seconds behind first place at the finish line.

Ocon's brilliant driving

We can't forget how well Ocon himself drove as he did not put a foot wrong despite all of the pressure of never being at the front of the field and having a four-time world champion constantly within two seconds of you, and regularly in DRS range. It cannot be underestimated how difficult it is to keep a calm head and not overdrive when you are going for a maiden F1 win but Ocon showed no signs of letting the occasion get to him. Considering how much he was struggling with his car during the triple-header, getting knocked out of Q1 and being off the pace, his win in Hungary was fantastic. A brilliant effort where he underlined his talent and why he has been touted as a potential future world champion in F1. Congratulations Esteban Ocon, that was a stunning drive on Sunday.

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