Race Report: Verstappen takes 12th successive win for Red Bull at Hungarian GP

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 23: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme during the F1 Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 23, 2023 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202307230499 // Usage for editorial use only //

The Hungarian Grand Prix had a glimmer of hope for Mercedes fans or Lewis Hamilton fans as the 7-time champ claimed pole position. Sure, it was only by three thousandths of a second but pole is pole and many wondered if Mercedes might have a sniff at a good race. Let’s just say Hamilton fans were cautiously optimistic heading into Sunday’s race.

Ultimately, Red Bull compromised their single-lap pace on Saturday for a more compliant and better setup car for the long-run pace on Sunday or at least that seemed to be the implication from team boss Christian Horner. Given Max’s victoryby over 33s on Sunday, it certainly seemed to be the case.

Listening to the Sky Sports team and other F1 pundits in the build-up to the race, they were all licking their lips on how the two McLaren’s of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri might be spoilers or buffers for Lewis Hamilton by getting in front of Max and holding him up. I appreciate the desire to see their favorite driver possibly beat Max Verstappen but having seen McLaren’s pace at Silverstone, I wasn’t buying it. Neither was Oscar or Lando.

Max took the lead but equally both McLaren’s mugged Lewis on the first lap and left the Mercedes running in P4. McLaren translated their improved pace at the British Grand Prix into continued performance at a significantly different track in Hungary with Lando in P2 and Oscar in P5. Oscar said he could have done a better job of tire management and that cost him a podium. Some will argue the pit stop strategy cost him a podium.

In the end, Sergio Perez marched his way back to P3 for a podium finish holding off Lewis Hamilton who finished in P4. Red Bull’s win was their 12th in a row breaking the record held by McLaren since 1988 with their dominant MP4-4 car. It was also Max’s 7th win in a row equalling Ascari, Schumacher, Vettel and Rosberg’s record.

Win

A huge win for Red Bull to secure their 12th victory in a row and Max’s 7th win in a row. Despite not taking pole position, Max delivered a dominant performance that may answer some of the questions about whether the other teams had caught up to Red Bull in the development battle. It might suggest that the other teams are catching up with each other but maybe not the Red Bulls just yet.

A win for McLaren and Lando Norris who secured another P2 finish and Oscar Piastri in P5. It would suggest that McLaren’s performance at the British GP wasn’t a fluke or track specific given that the Hungarian track is markedly different than Silverstone. That’s great news for McLaren and to be fair, they did alert us that they were going to look a bit dodgy early in the season but planned a major improvement mid-year and they’ve done just that. Huge respect for the hard-working men and women in Woking!

It may not seem like a win for Mercedes but to have Lewis fight back to P4 and George Russell overcome the deficit he had after qualifying to finish P6 is a good result nonetheless. Sure, Lewis was on pole but being realistic, they haven’t clawed back performance to beat Red Bull in outright pace on the long-run yet. The only thing that makes this a marginal “win” for them is being beaten by McLaren but to be fair, they may have been pulling back to reins a bit too long early in the race over fear of tire wear.

Fail

The word “fail” might be a bit harsh but I might suggest it was a slight missed opportunity for the team given the performance they had late in the race from both George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. The issue could be, as Toto Wolff explained, that they didn’t manage the race as well as they should have and they were too gentle with their tires as the teams were all worried about high wear rates that didn’t really materialize as much as some feared. When the car got lighter with less fuel, they came alive and perhaps Toto is right, they should have pushed the tires harder earlier. It’s hindsight but I’ll take Toto at his word as he would know far better than I.

A fail for Ferrari who managed to bumble their race strategy a bit leaving Charles Leclerc upset over the radio to the team. His 5s penalty for speeding in pit lane didn’t help matters and one wonders why they didn’t swap the cars early in the race to take advantage of Carlos Sainz’s soft compound pace? Perhaps they were seeing something I wasn’t or they had a different strategy altogether. I was surprised by the lack of pace they had in Hungary and I doubt I am the only one.

A fail for Alfa Romeo who qualified so well only to lose it all on the first lap with Zho Guanyu being penalized for causing a collision and taking out both Alpines and Valtteri Bottas getting wrapped up in that too dropping them toward the back of the grid. This left both of them out of the points.

The word “fail” may be a bit harsh for a team that put both cars in the points. However, a P9 and P10 for Aston Martin isn’t where we would have expected them to be and they now seem as if they are losing pace to not only Mercedes but McLaren as well leaving them behind McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari. Just a couple races ago, many felt they could be the team to win the odd race in the hands of Fernando Alonso.

A fail for Lando Norris for breaking Max’s trophy with his champagne bottle bump trick.

WTH

I’m sorry but when you prioritize shipping less tires to a race weekend over on-track running and action for paying fans, it seems to be moving in the wrong direction. I am not a fan of the new qualifying format. It gave little reason for teams to even run in the practice sessions (which F1 has recently said they aren’t big fans of anyway). So by all means, let’s just take 10 sets of tires to a weekend, cancel all practice sessions and have two sessions…qualifying and the race. We can then call it a day. But by gosh we can say that we are “sustainable”. Better yet, we could cancel qualifying and just use the reverse order of the last race as the starting grid and only have the race. Better yet, maybe we just stop F1 racing altogether. How did they not anticipate fewer tires and forced tire application leading to less running?

Not quite sure what happened to the pace of the Williams F1 team, especially Alex Albon, but perhaps these twisty, shorter tracks just don’t like their chassis that much.

Dan is back and finished where he started. Ricciardo finished in P13 and I will have to go back and see what happened to Yuki. He was down in P15. Truth be told, Dan got wrapped up in the clash at T1 on the first lap and I wonder if he might have had a whiff of the points had he not?

It was such a quiet race for Haas F1, I have no idea what happened to them and why they finished in P14 and P17 but fun hair, Nico and congratulations on the birth of your daughter, Kevin.

Could Sky F1 replace Naomi with Scarlett? Just asking for a friend. Scarlett did a great job this weekend. She had more insight than some of the permanent staff. I especially liked her challenging Ted on his liberal application of sunscreen and his ragged notebook. Well done Scarlett. ;)

 

Pirelli Tire Story:

Max Verstappen took his ninth win of the season, taking his total number of Formula 1 victories to 44. For Red Bull it was their twelfth consecutive win, a new outright record. Although he missed out on pole position yesterday afternoon by just three thousandths, the reigning world champion still managed to lead across the line for all 70 laps of the race. He made the most of the fact that polesitter Lewis Hamilton did not get the best of starts and also came off best in a thrilling duel with Oscar Piastri in the McLaren. From then on, Verstappen was in dominant form, winning by over 30 seconds from Lando Norris, who secured his second consecutive podium finish. Rounding off the podium trio was Sergio Perez, who staged a great climb up the order from ninth on the grid.

As widely predicted all the drivers opted for two stops, although there were several permutations. For example, the top two finishers opted to go Medium/Hard/Medium, while Perez started on Hard before twice fitting Mediums. Four drivers started on Softs: Sainz, Gasly, Stroll and Tsunoda. Making the best use of the extra grip afforded by the C5 was Ferrari’s Spanish driver, who crossed the line sixth at the end of the opening lap, having started eleventh. AlphaTauri’s Japanese driver used all three available compounds, while in the Williams, Alex Albon did the most consecutive laps (38) on Hard tyres. Sainz drove the longest stint on Softs (15 laps) while Ricciardo did no fewer than 40 laps on one set of Mediums. The most used compound was the C3 (770 laps, 61.5%), followed by the C4 (448, 35.78%) and the C5 (34, 2.72%).

Hungarian GP Results:

POSNODRIVERCARLAPSTIME/RETIREDPTS
11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT701:38:08.63426
24Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES70+33.731s18
311Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT70+37.603s15
444Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES70+39.134s12
581Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES70+62.572s10
663George RussellMERCEDES70+65.825s8
716Charles LeclercFERRARI70+70.317s6
855Carlos SainzFERRARI70+71.073s4
914Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES70+75.709s2
1018Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES69+1 lap1
1123Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES69+1 lap0
1277Valtteri BottasALFA ROMEO FERRARI69+1 lap0
133Daniel RicciardoALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT69+1 lap0
1427Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI69+1 lap0
1522Yuki TsunodaALPHATAURI HONDA RBPT69+1 lap0
1624Zhou GuanyuALFA ROMEO FERRARI69+1 lap0
1720Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI69+1 lap0
182Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES67DNF0
NC31Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT2DNF0
NC10Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT1DNF0
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Overall Race
race-report-verstappen-takes-12th-successive-win-for-red-bull-at-hungarian-gpIt wasn't a passing masterclass and a bit of a tire management race but good to see McLaren on the podium and Red Bull make history. The race was a testament to two great teams who are working very hard.
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charlie w

As far as this Ferrari fan is concerned, throw in the towel, season is over and let’s concentrate on 2024. I wasn’t a fan of the new qualifying format either. Again, it’s the emphasis on the tires. If it’s about sustainment, bring fewer tires, Pirelli. If it’s about mixing up the grid and confounding the engineers, let’s do this: put a one-tire gap in the tire selection for race weekend. This weekend, it was the C5,C4 and C3. Instead, do the C5, C4 and then C2 or C5 to C3 to C2. You get the idea.

JackFlash67

I think that Daniel’s race was quite significant in a few ways. [1]. Recover from being shunted to last (from position 13), with a little rear diffuser damage to boot, and still climb back to P13 at the Flag (2 places ahead of your teammate, who was kind of gifted your starting spot in the first lap). [2]. He got through a complete race distance, physically, and getting to know the AT car on different tyres and in Race conservation/push modes. [3]. DR did a first stint on MEDIUM tyres, a short stint on HARDs, then back onto MEDIUMS to get… Read more »

Worthless Opinion

I would keep in mind that two Alpines disappeared from the order in front of him, so he really dropped 2 positions and only got back that far through pit stop timing. For most of the race he was running dead last and unable to advance. First race back, hot as blazes, finished the distance without crashing so that was what he needed to do. Could be good things to come, but this wasn’t so great.

JackFlash67

Given RIC’s inside line on Turn 1, I am not sure that both of the Alpines were actually in front of him racing-wise at that point (prior to being shunted). But point taken. Yuki got the same free grid promotion benefit btw…

Worthless Opinion

agreed. no matter how it happened, he finished in front of his teammate which is not nothing.

Fabio

Anybody else notice Horner and Marko going over to DR on the grid to wish him luck in the race. Sergio has really peeded them off.

Worthless Opinion

1) did anyone else notice how calm Piastri sounds no matter what’s going on? Dude is chill I like him 2) first Aston had a better initial design now McLaren have developed past them. WTH is going on at Merc that their customer teams are walking all over them and they can’t sort it out for years? Yes Christian Horner is needling them but he’s right about the other big teams they’re underperforming badly.