For a short time, with various Stewards Enquiries and penalties flying around, it looked as though Max might have been heading for his very first F1 podium, but in the end he came home a fantastic fourth, his best ever result, eclipsing his seventh place finish in Malaysia, the second round of the season.
From ninth on the grid, he didn’t get away well and dropped four places after the start. Having started on Softs, like the entire field except Maldonado, Max pitted on lap 14 for another set of the same, when he’d moved up to eleventh. He fought his way up to eighth and then came first the Virtual Safety Car, soon followed by the real one, when we were treated to the unusual sight of all the cars being led through the pit lane, to avoid debris, from Hulkenberg’s Force India, on the main straight.
The laps after the restart were generally quite chaotic and Max had a coming together with Bottas in the Williams and the Stewards also gave our rookie a drive through penalty for speeding during the Safety Car period. But with the others quite a way behind, he was still able to run fifth. Then, when Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Rosberg tangled and the Mercedes man got a puncture, Verstappen inherited a well deserved, if slightly unexpected fourth place finish.
It was a very exciting race on what proved to be an emotional day, after all the drivers and Jules Bianchi’s family gathered at the front of the grid for a moment’s silence in memory of the Frenchman who died just over a week ago. Then, as soon as the lights went out, there was an amazing start from the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen who managed to jump both the Mercedes front row sitters. From then on, Vettel controlled the race and Raikkonen also looked to be heading for a podium until he was sidelined with a technical failure. The all-conquering Mercedes had an unlucky day after that, with Hamilton being given a penalty, and Rosberg requiring an extra stop after a collision with Ricciardo meant he had to drive almost one entire lap with a puncture.
It was therefore a day of surprises on which the Hungaroring once again confounded its critics on its 30th anniversary, producing a real thriller, with Daniil Kvyat seeing the world from the top of an F1 podium for the first time, in second place, followed home by his Infiniti Red Bull Racing team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.
The top four names on the time sheet are a great advert for the Red Bull Junior Driver Programme and the teaching abilities of Scuderia Toro Rosso: Vettel, Kvyat, Ricciardo, Verstappen!
The twelve points we picked up today mean we jump ahead of Sauber to go seventh in the Constructors’ Championship, just four points behind Lotus. What a great way to go into the official summer break fortnight, which starts on 3rd August. And the next round is Max’s “home” race, the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps.