2019 Hungarian Grand Prix Review

Formula One is now on its summer break but there was the small matter of the Hungarian Grand Prix to clear first before cracking open the deckchairs and ice cream.

Unpredictable weather and the less power sensitive Hungaroring however threw up plenty of drama for all teams so without further ado, here is how each team fared in Hungary.

 

Mercedes

Race Result: Lewis Hamilton – 1st, Valtteri Bottas – 8th

Hamilton wins Hungary
Lewis Hamilton heads off on his summer break in firm control of the title race after taking an epic Hungarian Grand Prix victory. (Image credit: LAT Images)

If there was a weekend in which Mercedes had to absolutely fight in every session then this was it. 

Starting with Hamilton, the midweek rest definitely did him the world of good because he was in his typical Hungaroring form, which was evident in his race pace by quickly clearing Bottas before chasing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen down in a classic predator vs prey battle. 

Laps 32-35 were for me the defining moment in this Hungarian Grand Prix as Hamilton re-joined from his first stop six seconds behind Verstappen, only to have reeled the Dutchman in by the middle sector of lap 35 which is simply astonishing to say the least.

We however must give Mercedes huge respect for switching Hamilton to a late two stopper because that decision was what won him the race with a great game of cat and mouse in the closing stages, which paid off on lap 67 with a stunning move into Turn One. 

Now that is the drive of a World Champion and if am being realistic, this season is now Hamilton’s to lose. 

Bottas meanwhile should take the positives from a tough weekend in which he fought back from FP1 reliability trouble to qualify second and 0.018s off Verstappen, even if his race was wrecked early on by a damaged front wing before fighting back on a two stopper to finish eighth. 

Mercedes will overall be happy with this weekend but there is work to do if they’re to be competitive throughout remainder of season, and in particularly Singapore which doesn’t suit their car well. 

 

Ferrari

Race Result: Sebastian Vettel – 3rd, Charles Leclerc – 4th

Without a doubt, this has to be one of Ferrari’s worst weekends of the season so far because they never seriously looked like contenders except briefly in FP3, and to finish over a minute behind Hamilton surely rings alarm bells at Maranello.

In all honesty, there isn’t much to say about Ferrari this weekend other than their performance seems to have plateaued out in comparison to other teams who are continuing to progress forward. 

Leclerc however needs to cut out his qualifying mistakes after spinning rearwards into the barrier in Q1, as he was lucky to continue with minimal damage which in other years could of been worse. 

Belgium therefore is going to be a crucial weekend in Ferrari’s season because they’re either going to bounce back or continue to unravel as focus switches to next season’s car. 

 

Red Bull

Race Result: Max Verstappen – 2nd, Pierre Gasly – 6th

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After the highs of July, this weekend marked a massive step forward for Red Bull who dominated Ferrari all weekend, whilst pushing Mercedes throughout every session.

Verstappen in particular produced one of his best weekends yet as he recovered from a FP1 spin to record an exceptional pole time of 1m 14.572, ahead of the superior Mercedes and Ferrari cars. 

Even in the wet during FP2, Verstappen showed better pace as he lapped around 3s faster than the rest of the field which is a great credit despite expectant rain for qualifying failing to materialise. 

Gasly meanwhile continued his poor form in comparison as he lagged around half a second slower than Verstappen, even if he did top FP2 by virtue of being the only front runner to do a lap on the softs before rain hit the circuit. 

Race strategy however proved unusually sloppy by Red Bull’s standard with Verstappen only one stopping despite grip issues, when a two stopper clearly could of been better if they had opted for a double undercut on Hamilton.

Gasly on the other hand produced a poor performance as he lost positions at the start before finding himself stuck behind McLaren’s Carlos Sainz in sixth, although if Lando Norris hadn’t had a botched stop it could of easily been seventh for the Frenchman on race pace alone.

Overall a positive step forward on single lap pace but Red Bull need to clean up on their race strategies after a disappointing performance because they could of easily won this race.

 

McLaren

Race Result: Carlos Sainz – 5th, Lando Norris – 9th

McLaren really have had to work their way to their point finishes after a tough Friday due to tricky weather conditions and reliability issues, left the team with a difficult picture of where their car was in the pecking order.

A solid Saturday however saw them find their usual groove with Norris impressively posting times just as strong as Red Bull’s Gasly before ultimately finishing Q3 just 0.350s off the Frenchman and Sainz qualifying just behind him.

Sainz however enjoyed the better race with a perfect strategy and pace whereas Norris’ race was undone by a sticky left rear at his pit stop but ninth was a great recovery, even if both drivers ought of finished ahead of Gasly on race pace alone.

Either way, McLaren are heading into the summer break off the back of a strong step forward, which currently leaves them fourth in the Constructor Standings and just need to stay focused on improving their car now.

 

Toro Rosso

Race Result: Alexander Albon – 10th, Daniil Kvyat – 15th

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After the highs of Germany, Toro Rosso returned to Earth with a bumpy but solid weekend firmly in the midfield.

Albon in particular did well to recover from a heavy shunt at the final corner in FP2 to have a clean fight with Kvyat early on in the race, despite running wide at one point and didn’t complain that he was nudged wide like many other drivers would do.

That was pure racing and a professional response which was deservingly rewarded with a late point, following a late lunge at the first corner on Racing Point’s Sergio Perez which was briefly investigated by the stewards who correctly called it a racing move.

Kvyat meanwhile drove a good race but a 47 lap stint on the hard tyres proved too much for the Russian because his “… tyres were completely gone…” and he consequently tumbled down to a 15th placed finish.

I therefore feel that Toro Rosso had extracted their absolute maximum this weekend from their car in unpredictable conditions and will hopefully be stronger in Belgium with fresh updates.

 

Renault

Race Result: Nico Hulkenberg – 12th, Daniel Ricciardo – 14th

Renault will be glad to get away for the summer holidays after another wretched weekend with the car underperforming.

Ricciardo in particular struggled as he got knocked out in Q1 and outqualified by George Russell in the Williams car, before being demoted to the back after Renault opted to change parts of his power unit.

Both drivers then endured a frustrating race despite executing decent strategies as Hulkenberg brilliantly nursed an control electronic issue, whilst Ricciardo struggled to carve his way through the field before getting stuck behind Magnussen’s Haas.

The summer break therefore has come at a good time for Renault who need to gather their heads and regroup ahead of the run-in if want fourth in the Constructor Standings.

 

Alfa Romeo

Race Result: Kimi Raikkonen – 7th, Antonio Giovinazzi – 18th

If I was Alfa Romeo, this weekend is surely a pivotal point in the season as thoughts turns towards next season.

Raikkonen was simply fantastic with strong performances throughout every session, earning himself a solid seventh through a great race strategy and defence against Bottas in the closing stages.

Giovinazzi’s F1 future however has to be in doubt after another weekend in which he was outclassed by Raikkonen plus was embarrassingly beaten by Williams’  Russell in the race.

All in all, Hungary is bound to have given Alfa Romeo food for thought about their driver lineup for next season as there are no Ferrari juniors ready for promotion, nor can they afford to continue with Giovinazzi underperforming.

 

Racing Point

Race Result: Sergio Perez – 11th, Lance Stroll – 17th

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Racing Point definitely will be happy to quickly forget this weekend because they barely made any impact other than the humiliation of being outqualified in Q1 by Russell in an improved Williams car, which left Team Principal, Otmar Szafnauer disappointed that “…we didn’t maximise our performance.”

Perez however produced a excellent strategy to finish just outside the points after doing a 51 lap stint on the hard compound, despite losing grip in the closing stages with a damaged suspension from being hit by Toro Rosso’s Albon.

Stroll meanwhile had a dire race by his standards as he found himself stuck behind Russell despite having the faster car, which is definitely a huge concern for Racing Point to address in Belgium.

Analysing the data from this weekend is therefore going to be crucial if Racing Point are to improve after the summer break.

 

Haas

Race Result: Kevin Magnussen – 13th, Romain Grosjean – Retired

Haas this weekend continued their Australia v current spec comparison and if I am being honest, there isn’t much between both specs if exclude FP1 which was chaotic with various showers which heavily disrupted the session.

Grosjean however was the better driver in qualifying and for the first stint of the race but poor grip on hard tyres and a water pressure failure put pay to points, so perhaps the Aussie spec is the better car when it matters most.

The summer break therefore is going to be about analysing their data before deciding which spec to use going forward into the run-in, because they need to start scoring points if are to save their season from being a disappointment.

 

Williams

Race Result: George Russell – 16th, Robert Kubica – 19th

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Williams will be the happiest team heading off on their holidays because their hard work is starting to pay off after a strong weekend, although I wonder if this track just happened to suit their car with the big test coming next time in Belgium.

Russell in particular suited this circuit because he dominated Kubica throughout the weekend and did a great job to get in amongst some of the midfield teams, qualifying ahead of both Racing Point cars plus Renault’s Ricciardo in P16.

He then carried that newfound performance into race day with a strong drive throughout to beat Stroll and Giovinazzi, whilst troubling Magnussen and Ricciardo for a while.

Eventually 16th was the best that he could do but to beat Stroll and Giovinazzi on pure pace underlines Russell’s potential if Williams can continue to develop their car, although Kubica does have his work cut out to improve across both single and race pace.

Belgium however will be the acid test as to whether Williams have actually improved or this weekend was a fluke result.

 

If missed the opening eleven rounds of this season, get up to date with our race reviews below.

 

 

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