Daniel Ricciardo drove the race of his life to secure an unlikely victory for Red Bull on Sunday in an incident-packed Hungarian Grand Prix which saw Lewis Hamilton ignore Mercedes team orders to let title leader Nico Rosberg through.
Australia’s Ricciardo overtook two-time world champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari for the lead on lap 68 of 70 at the Hungaroring for his second victory of the season.
Lewis Hamilton claimed the final podium spot after starting from the pit lane and spinning off the track on the first lap with Rosberg in fourth place.
But the intense rivalry between the pair reached a head when Hamilton refused to allow Rosberg through at a crucial stage of the race.
The German, who made one more pit stop than his teammate, showed his impatience on race radio. “Why is he not letting me through,” he complained.
Hamilton countered by saying Rosberg had not been close enough. “I’ll let him through if he gets closer,” he said. “I’m not slowing down for Nico…”
The 2008 world champion’s stubborness looked set to be rewarded by a remarkable victory as he closed on Alonso, whose own tires were losing their grip.
But Ricciardo, who won earlier this season in Canada, was the fastest of the front runners and first went past Hamilton before surging clear of Alonso.
Rosberg, who still leads the championship from Hamilton by 11 points, was making up about three seconds per lap on the top three after his stop for new tires, but his charge came too late.
Hamilton, whose challenge was so nearly over on the opening lap, was helped by the safety car being deployed twice as drivers crashed out on a wet but drying track.
The first safety car disadvantaged Rosberg, who looked impregnable in first place after starting from pole.
Ricciardo was among those who were able to switch to slick tires at that point, while Rosberg had to wait an extra lap and lost position.
“It feels as good as the first win, it really does,” said Ricciardo at the trophy presentation.
“The safety car at first played to our advantage but the second one didn’t really help us, but we got there in the end and I had to do the overtaking at the end which was fun.”
Felipe Massa for Williams and Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari showed their experience by finishing fifth and sixth with four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel took seventh, again overshadowed by his young Red Bull teammate Ricciardo.
Vettel was the last driver to start from the pit lane and take a podium spot in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix of 2012 and Hamilton was delighted to emulate him after a fire in his engine wrecked his qualifying effort on Saturday.
“It’s been a crazy weekend,” he said.
“The car has been fantastic but there were a lot of points lost this weekend. The brakes were very, very cold at the start and I was gone but I got going again and managed to push on from there.”
But the ramifications of his refusal to follow team orders is set to rumble on with Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff telling gathered reporters there would be an internal inquiry, but “no knee-jerk reaction.”