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Esteban Ocon wins first Grand Prix in Hungary

Left, Esteban Ocon at the Malaysian Grand Prix in 2017. (Morio | Wikimedia Commons) Right, Ocon in his Alpine Racing vehicle in 2021. (Lukas Raich | Wikimedia Commons)

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By Jesus Coronel

Alpine’s Esteban Ocon won his first race during the Hungarian Grand Prix, making him the 111th different Grand Prix winner.

He fended off Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel from the fourth lap onward after a chaotic first lap. However, Vettel was disqualified from the Hungarian GP after the race for not having the right amount of fuel in his tank.

With wet conditions at the start of the race, Mercedes’s Valtteri Bottas and McLaren’s Lando Norris caused a collision that made five drivers retire, including themselves.

Both Red Bull Racing drivers Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez were affected by the collisions, with Verstappen taking significant body damage and Perez retiring from the race.

A separate collision by Vettel’s teammate Lance Stroll caused him and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc to retire.

Both Bottas and Stroll received a 5-place penalty for the next race in Belgium by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).

The race was red flagged due to the collisions.

At the restart, race leader Lewis Hamilton misjudged the track conditions and kept intermediate tires while everyone else opted to switch to mediums.

He went from first to fourteenth place after he changed tires.

Verstappen struggled to keep his pace with damage on his vehicle as Hamilton got comfortably ahead of his championship rival.

He even had a chance to win the race after making a fourth pit stop to gain a tire advantage.

Ocon’s teammate Fernando Alonso, who recently celebrated his 40th birthday, held up Hamilton for as long as he could until his tired locked up with six laps to go.

After overtaking Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in the final three laps, Hamilton finished on the podium. Now he leads the championship over Verstappen by six points.

“It was a tough race and I had nothing left at the end,” he said in an interview. “Considering how things went overall, we have to be happy with P3.”

Vettel was in second place before his disqualification. Hamilton moved up to second with the result.

Now AlphaTauri are now more comfortably ahead of them in the constructor’s championship by 16 points after Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly finished in sixth and seventh, respectively, with Gasly getting a point for the fastest lap.

“As a team we got P6 and P7,” Tsunoda said. “From P16 we’re happy.”

Thanks to Ocon’s victory and Alonso’s fifth-place finish, Alpine is in fifth place in the constructor’s championship.

“What a moment,” Ocon said. “It’s fantastic, what can I say?”

Ferrari is now tied with McLaren in the championship with Sainz’s third-place finish.

Williams Racing had a memorable moment as both George Russell and Nicholas Latifi finished in the points. They are now ahead of Alfa Romeo in the championship race.

Heading into the summer break, Mercedes now are ahead of Red Bull in the championship. The rivalry will only get more intense from here.

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