Formula One has now commenced its summer break after a momentous 2018 Hungarian Grand Prix, in terms of both driver and constructors’ championships.
Traditionally, one of the toughest races, this can also be one of the most defining in shaping the second half of the season making every lesson here crucial.
Therefore, just what have we learned from Hungary as Lewis Hamilton stunned Ferrari to take victory and extend his championship lead over Sebastian Vettel to 24 points?
Red Bull entered this weekend full of confidence in that this track might provide them a ‘good result’.
That belief seemed well placed after an impressive Friday in which both drivers finished both free practice sessions in the top three.
Rest of weekend however saw a return to usual form, albeit Daniel Ricciardo suffering a shock Q2 exit courtesy of rain and wrong time on track.
Sunday meanwhile was fairly conventional with Max Verstappen suffering another engine failure, leaving the Dutchman not feeling ‘like going away on holiday’ as this marks the team’s eighth engine failure of season.
Eight failures in 12 races is appalling compared to the factory Renault team is just unacceptable, especially at a track which suited their car so its no wonder that Christian Horner is finding life ‘enormously frustrating’ at minute.
Thankfully, Ricciardo drove a brilliant race to fourth following Valtteri Bottas’ late drama but this is another big points race lost.
This weekend has been super challenging with the team entering administration on Friday, whilst battling Haas and Renault for fourth.
Free Practice saw them firmly in midfield but something clearly went wrong in qualifying despite the track drying at end of Q1 as both drivers suffered early exits before disappointing in race.
Sergio Perez who was one of the creditors who helped place them into administration for safety reasons, admitted that ‘the last few months have been tough mentally’ but have to hand it to him for his recent three consecutive point scoring finishes alongside teammate – Esteban Ocon.
The Mexican however is looking to ‘come back stronger’ after the break once the off track issues are resolved and like Perez, Chief Operating Officer, Otmar Szafnauer is thinking along those same lines but has the belief ‘ that we are still in the thick of the action when it comes to the midfield battle.’
Those comments are quite commendable because it offers hope and confidence that Force India will be back to usual best come Belgium, so am looking forward to seeing this great team get right back in the midfield scrap.
For all the justified talk about Charles Leclerc, we have finally discovered his biggest weakness – rain.
Last week, we saw the Monegasque struggle when the race turned wet, sliding and pirouetting across Hockenheim but it is now clear that Leclerc perhaps needs to fine tune his wet racing.
Having escaped Q1 in last eight races, it was a surprise to see Leclerc struggle in a wet/dry qualifying this weekend, only managing 17th on grid.
Therefore, you surely have to question Leclerc’s ability in the wet because we know how amazing he is in dry conditions but he seems to be exposed when it come to changeable conditions.
At McLaren, Fernando Alonso entered this weekend in knowledge that he can stamp his authority over Stoffel Vandoorne here, by claiming an unassailable lead in qualifying head to head.
Well Alonso certainly stamped his authority over Vandoorne in their team battle by beating him in every session, to earn a 12-0 qualifying head to head record and again finish in top ten.
This head to head pounding now surely raises questions around Vandoorne’s future,with Carlos Sainz mooted to be replacing him in 2019.
McLaren did however put a new chassis on Vandoorne’s car so expect Belgium to be a real indicator of where the problems lie, despite Vandoorne clearly showing signs of recovery in race before a gearbox failure,
Sergey Sirotkin will be relishing the summer break after becoming the only driver not to score points yet this season, compared to two last year at this stage (Marcus Ericsson and Jolyon Palmer).
With qualifying being wet, this could of been Sirotkin’s best chance of putting himself in a possible points scoring position but fate sadly went against him after traffic denied him a shot at Q2.
Race day again brought more misery to leave Sirotkin as the only driver without a point going into the break.
Sirotkin however believes that he enters the summer break on a ‘high’ although he feels that ‘there’s still room for improvement’ which is certainly true so expect Williams to perhaps try and develop this car further into season, as others start focusing on next year’s car.
Chief Technical Officer, Paddy Lowe meanwhile was full of praise for the Russian and the car’s progress, saying; ‘It was unfortunate for Sergey because i think the car showed more promise this weekend than his grid position would indicate.’
Missed any of the first ten race weekends and want to get up to date? Click on any of the hyperlinks below to go and check out my round up of the weekend/s.