Sebastian Vettel was left to wonder what might have been at the Hungaroring as an ill-timed safety car meant that a front row start and potential podium finish went begging.

Although he lost a place to Valtteri Bottas in turn one on the opening lap of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Vettel's early weekend performance had suggested that he could be a podium contender, but that dream came undone as early as lap seven of the 70 scheduled.

With the track still damp in places, Caterham's Marcus Ericsson speared off into the turn three tyre wall, prompting a safety car whose confirmation came just too late to allow the first four runners to pit immediately. Instead, Vettel - running third - leader Nico Rosberg, Bottas and Fernando Alonso all had to wait another lap before getting the opportunity to switch from the intermediate tyre to their choice of slick, and Vettel believes that that delay was instrumental in a frustrating afternoon, which also included an uncharacteristic spin that saw his RB10 graze the pit-wall with its rear wing before continuing.

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"It wasn't a great race," the four-time world champion sighed, "I spun, which was my mistake, and before that I was unlucky with the safety car in the first stint, as the timing meant the first four cars lost positions to those running behind. Unfortunately, we were then in the wrong mode for the restart and I lost two positions."

More annoyingly for Vettel, team-mate Daniel Ricciardo went on to benefit from a chaotic afternoon, claiming his second win of the season to cement himself in third spot in the overall standings, while the German had to make do with seventh spot, under late pressure from Bottas.

"Sebastian's afternoon was frustrating," team boss Christian Horner confirmed, "Unfortunately, after a good start and some good battles, he got the call at the same time as Daniel to pit after the Caterham had an accident, but was too far round the last corner to make it into the pit-lane. He then had to stop under the safety car which meant he lost some places.

"He was making progress, but then had the spin. [He] managed to avoid the pit-wall, but he flat-spotted his tyres and then had a problem at the restart. It was then a question of damage limitation, trying to run the hard tyres to the end of the race and he did a phenomenal job to keep Bottas behind him."