Race Report: Verstappen wins Hungarian GP as Ferrari stumble

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With a threat of rain in the air and much cooler air and track temperatures, The Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix evolved into a battle that evicted from most predictions—including my own fantasy GP picks.

Ferrari looked quick on Friday and it seemed like a track—Monaco without the barriers—that the Italian team would excel at. Come Saturday and Sunday with cooler temps, Mercedes pulled a pole position out of their hat and ended up capitalizing on Ferrari’s lack of pace and strategy errors on Sunday.

Perhaps equally surprising—and maybe not so so surprising—Max Verstappen managed to make the most of his team’s brilliant strategy calls to come from 10th place to victory followed by Lewis Hamilton and George Russell’s Mercedes leaving both Ferraris on the doorstep of the shop three steps.

Win

A big win for Red Bull and Max Verstappen. With no help from a struggling Sergio Perez, Max had a lot of work to do given the qualifying position he was relegated to due to an MGU-K issue on his final attempt on Saturday. To recover from 10th via a strategy that put Ferrari, and to some extend Mercedes, on their back foot, Max used the undercut superbly and delivered rapid in and out laps to gain enough lead to cover an unforced error spin on lap 41 and still win.

A win for Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes. Sure, George Russell did the heavy lifting but he was running a different race and his strategy was defending the lead early on but this left Mercedes to cover Ferrari with Russell and cover Max with Lewis. The strategy they deployed for Lewis—which is what Ferrari should have done by running Charles Leclerc long—worked a treat and allowed Lewis to climb past his teammate and into P2 with a terrific drive. Mercedes has to be pleased with their performance gain and hoping for cool temps in the second half of the season.

A win for Lando Norris who managed to stay ahead of Fernando Alonso and keep the battle between McLaren and Alpine alive finishing P7.

Also a win for Sebastian Vettel who managed to pip his teammate, Lance Stroll, for the final point on the grid.

Fail

It’s hard not to view Ferrari’s race as a fail. Red Bull called and early stop for Max on lap 16 and Ferrari answered but they did so by fitting another set of Mediums for both cars—Sainz on lap 17 and Leclerc on lap 21—which meant, clearly, they were on a 2-stopper and everyone knew it. What was odd is that they tried to cover the undercut again on the Hard compound for Leclerc instead of at least running long on the Mediums—like Lewis did—and then change to softs for the last 15 or so laps. It may not have worked for the win but at least it would have given them a shot for the podium and kept them ahead of Mercedes who is now breathing down their neck in the constructor’s championship. Admittedly, Carlos Sainz tried that and it didn’t work out but in the end, they shouldn’t have been in that position to begin with. The late stop for Leclerc was public admission of a failed strategy call and that is not a good look for Ferrari when you are competing at this level. All personalities aside, Ferrari have to make changes to their strategy team.

A fail for Sergio Perez who looked off the boil all weekend long drawing the ire of boss Helmut Marko saying he was already on summer vacation. It’s a drop in form over the last two races and Sergio needs to pick up the pace to be able to at lease give Red Bull more strategy options at the sharp end of the grid.

A fail for Daniel Ricciardo for punting Lance Stroll after doing a great job of passing both Alpine’s on lap 29. Having both McLaren’s ahead of Alpines is what the team needed but not what he delivered.

WTH

With regards to Ferrari, I think they believed the Hard would be slower for 10 or so laps but would come into its own and since there were 30 laps left, they felt it was the right call. The reality of it is, Ferrari just lost pace in the cooler temps to Red Bull but regardless, the tire choices were not right. I think Charles Leclerc is still trying to understand the call.

Speaking of Alpine, Esteban Ocon’s focus on beating Fernando Alonso isn’t helping the team. He was very intent on keeping Alonso behind him on lap 29 that he balked the Spaniard allowing Ricciardo to pass them both. Their prime target, McLaren, was allowed by as he blocked Alonso. Not a good look.

What happened to Yuki?

Is George Russell “The type of guy who…get’s the #2 driver strategy?” Asking for a friend. To be fair to Mercedes, George was running and covering a different race from Lewis but I will say that Toto’s actions when Lewis passed George and the words he chooses to use about George’s performance would give me reason for pause if I were George. Let’s just say I would be keeping my options very open with Red Bull, McLaren or even Sauber if Audi buys them.

The Pirelli Tire Story:

  • From P10 on the grid, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the Hungarian Grand Prix with a two-stop strategy, starting on the P Zero Red soft tyre and then doing two stints on the P Zero Yellow medium: the strategy we had predicted as fastest.
  • The two Mercedes were second and third, each on a different run plan from each other and Verstappen, to make it three different strategies in the top three. There were different strategies all the way down the grid, with half the field starting on the medium and the other half on the soft.
  • The weather made the Hungarian Grand Prix extremely complicated: the race was run in cool conditions (around 20 degrees ambient and 25 on track) with rain just before and during the final couple of laps of the race. Some strong winds also affected the aerodynamic balance.
  • Pirelli now remains in Hungary for more 2023 prototype slick tyre testing, with Aston Martin and Mercedes on Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

Hungarian GP Results:

PosNameCarLapsLaps LedTotal TimeFastest LapPitstopsPts
1Max VerstappenRed Bull70201h39m35.912s1m22.126s225
2Lewis HamiltonMercedes704+7.834s1m21.386s219
3George RussellMercedes7024+12.337s1m22.766s215
4Carlos Sainz Jr.Ferrari708+14.579s1m22s212
5Sergio PérezRed Bull700+15.688s1m21.94s210
6Charles LeclercFerrari7014+16.047s1m21.622s38
7Lando NorrisMcLaren-Mercedes700+1m18.3s1m23.043s26
8Fernando AlonsoAlpine-Renault690+1 lap1m23.979s14
9Esteban OconAlpine-Renault690+1 lap1m24.149s12
10Sebastian VettelAston Martin-Mercedes690+1 lap1m22.824s21
11Lance StrollAston Martin-Mercedes690+1 lap1m22.437s20
12Pierre GaslyAlphaTauri-Red Bull690+1 lap1m23.199s20
13Guanyu ZhouAlfa Romeo-Ferrari690+1 lap1m22.029s20
14Mick SchumacherHaas-Ferrari690+1 lap1m23.151s20
15Daniel RicciardoMcLaren-Mercedes690+1 lap1m23.654s20
16Kevin MagnussenHaas-Ferrari690+1 lap1m23.511s30
17Alex AlbonWilliams-Mercedes690+1 lap1m23.047s30
18Nicholas LatifiWilliams-Mercedes690+1 lap1m22.478s30
19Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauri-Red Bull680+2 laps1m23.538s30
Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo-Ferrari650DNF1m24.002s10

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ayojay

Great review Todd.

Do you think Russell’s strategy was comprised by his slow stop?

I agree with your thoughts on Toto, although I think Mercedes is still the best place for George. To be fair Lewis’ driving has improved in the last 5 races.

I can see them having a resurgence in the second half of the season.

It’s a shame about Ferrari’s race craft.

Fred

You pointed out that Russell’s strategy was to support Hamilton, then why did he not pull over and let him by. Was that a reward to see if could hold him off? Russell is ahead of Hamilton in the championship. Is it that Hamilton is no longer #1? Is Hamilton on his way out of MB? I don’t know, just asking dumb questions.

Worthless Opinion

Because Mercedes’ idea of Russell’s strategy is different than Russell’s idea of Russell’s strategy. Lewis is a paranoid nut who needs to dominate his teammate to keep body and soul together, and Toto understands that. Personally, when I see Merc put Russell on slicks in the rain, or have a magical slow pitstop to cycle Lewis in front of him, I don’t see an accident.

Matt

I made a comment after Austria that Charles won in spite of Ferrari….

For Max he must be loving this year, after the epic battle of last year everyone is literally moving out of his way for title no.2.

Worthless Opinion

Yeah I made a comment that Ferrari are idiots. People didn’t like it and I respect that, it’s important to be nice and I was overly harsh. Sadly though, Ferrari ARE idiots.

Fabio

What did Toto say about George? I missed it.

I was wondering how Ferrari would balls up this opportunity, and to paraphrase Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, Ferrari finds a way.

Fabio

Yeah, he certainly still favours Lewis to George, I just thought that he may have actually said something about it.

Bathurstfan

Carlos and Lewis made MMS work, why would Ferrari think it wouldn’t for Charles?

Smithers: Umm, sir, Leclerc and Ricciardo have been running great and made stunning passes on their competitors…

Burns: RELEASE THE HARDS!!!

Glen Mhor

More bizarre behaviour from Ferrari and underlines you can have a great car and talented driver but it’s a team sport and everyone in that team plugs into success. At the moment, a couple of spark plugs seem to be faulty.

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Race Report: Verstappen wins Hungarian GP as Ferrari stumbleI enjoyed this race, I usually enjoy Hungarian Grands Prix, and the strategy was very interesting to try and follow...especially for Ferrari.
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