This year’s Hungarian Grand Prix will long be remembered as the race that cemented Daniel Ricciardo's status as a world class driver.
Ricciardo started the race in fourth place and delivered a phenomenal performance to win his first Hungarian Grand Prix and clinch his second Formula One victory of the season and career following his maiden racing title at this year’s Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.
If there were any doubts over Ricciardo’s credentials after his victory in Canada then his win in Sunday’s race should dissipate these because he showed an audacious and controlled nerve to win a race that was decided over a spectacular last 10 laps.
These final laps of the Hungarian Grand Prix produced an exciting three-way tussle for the lead when Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Ricciardo's diverging strategies brought them together, with Nico Rosberg who started the race on pole trying to join in the fray after his own late stop.
But Ricciardo showed his class and maturity to pass Alonso and claim victory with three laps to go.
Class from Hamilton
Hamilton also showed his own class and zeal as he came from the pit lane to claim an impressive third place finish which has helped him to come within 11 points of his main title rival and teammate Rosberg in the fight for the World Championship crown.
However, Hamilton’s feat was not without controversy. Hamilton ignored team orders to move aside for Rosberg within the last 20 laps of the race. Team Mercedes’ order came as a surprise to everyone but particularly Hamilton who rightfully refused to give Rosberg way.
The order from the Mercedes team to tell Hamilton to give Rosberg way when the former was in a position to overtake Alonso who was leading the race at that stage is one that could prove damaging to the pending contractual negotiations.
It showed that Rosberg is the favoured driver even though Hamilton has produced more outstanding performances to remain in contention for the World Championship title, and may be an issue when a new deal is discussed. If Rosberg was really worthy of being treated like the team’s first driver then he would have won Sunday’s race.
Rosberg had a commanding lead ahead of the race and he also had the advantage of having the best tyres and lap times in the final stages but he failed to capitalise on his advantage because he did not have the same passion, determination and zeal as the three drivers who ended up on the podium.
In contrast Hamilton produced one of his most memorable drives, finishing one place ahead of Rosberg, and he did so in a car that had been built overnight after the fire that wrecked his qualifying on Saturday.
It is very fitting that Ricciardo established his credentials as a future world champion alongside Alonso and Hamilton, two former winners, that embody the kind of sheer talent and spirited determination that saw the Australian win his second Grand Prix.