Lewis Hamilton has taken pole for tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix – his first since 2021 – setting a record for the most number of pole positions at one circuit by one driver. He lines up ahead of Max Verstappen and Lando Norris, with the trio separated by only +0.085.
It was the first try-out of a new qualifying format, with drivers mandated to use only hard tyres in Q1, medium tyres in Q2 and soft tyres in Q3.
McLaren locked out the second row, further delivering on their upgrades from the last round in Silverstone. Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu had a strong showing in fifth, having topped Q1 earlier.
Slightly further down in the top ten, Perez finally put an end to his run of Q1 eliminations and lines up P9 on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
In his first qualifying session back in F1 – having been brought in as a replacement for Nyck de Vries at Alpha Tauri – Daniel Ricciardo ended up P13, with team-mate Yuki Tsunoda in P17.
Although Mercedes have reason to celebrate with Hamilton’s pole, it was not an entirely great day for the team. George Russell complained about traffic on the build-up to his last Q1 lap and wasn’t able to improve, finding himself all the way down in P18.
Max Verstappen wins from P10 with Hamilton finishing P2 from 7th and Russell rounding out the podium after getting pole in qualifying. Ferrari had another disastrous strategy resulting in them finishing off the podium in P4 and P6.
The weather looked like it could have played a part when it began to spit before the start of the race. Several cars locked up into turn 2 with the strong tailwind that was being created and could have affected them during the race.
Lights out and George Russell gets a great start from pole but behind him, Sainz has kept up with him going side by side with Carlos on the outside of into turn 1. Russell closes the door and manages to stay ahead of both Ferraris. Leclerc got a slow start meaning Norris could pressure for P3 but with no success. Hamilton was the main mover at the start, making it to P5 before turn 1.
Bottas got a slow start so both RedBulls were able to jump ahead of him and begin to chase down the Alpines. On lap 7, with a much faster car, Verstappen was able to make a move down the inside of turn 1 and move past Alonso before chasing after and passing Ocon. Perez was not far behind and took both Alpines just the next lap.
By lap 12 Verstappen had closed down the gap to Hamilton in P5 who was battling Norris for P4. Just as Verstappen reached within the DRS range of the Mercedes, Hamilton made a DRS move on Norris down the inside of turn 1. Verstappen took advantage of this as Norris went slightly wide to have a drag race into turn 2. Verstappen, still with DRS, was able to go around the outside of Norris meaning the McLaren lost two places within two corners.
Just before the first pitstops, Leclerc began to complain that he was faster than Sainz in front of him. To solve this they brought Sainz in leaving Leclerc out for a longer stint. However, this benefited Leclerc who came in for his stop on lap 22 and then came out behind Russell but ahead of his teammate.
With fresher tyres, Leclerc didn’t take long to catch and overtake the Mercedes for the lead. On lap 30 Leclerc used DRS down the main straight to make a move around the outside of turn 1 which this time he made stick. Sainz was not far behind so this was Ferrari’s race to control.
10 laps later it was time for stop number two for Leclerc and Russell. In a bold move Ferrari but on the hard tyres, which no one had been able to make work in the cooler conditions. The pitstop hadn’t worked for Mercedes as Russell came out behind both RedBulls, with Leclerc out just in front of them.
The hard tyres would prove to be Leclerc’s undoing though. As he couldn’t get them to warm up and find pace, just one lap later Verstappen had DRS and passed him down the inside of turn 1. Just when we thought Verstappen had made the move stick for the net lead, he went for a spin, losing the back end of the car coming out of the penultimate corner.
This had a domino effect on Perez, who got caught up behind his teammate and now had to defend from Russell going down the main straight. Side by side, the Mercedes was able to make it around the outside of Perez in turn 1, nearly making it past the other RedBull before having to yield.
It wasn’t long before Verstappen caught up to Leclerc and overtook him in a similar fashion to before. This time though he was able to make it stick and create a gap to the Ferrari, which still had the hard tyres on.
On lap 54 Russell had now closed the gap on Leclerc as well and looked on for a move. Leclerc defended the inside of turn 1 but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to keep the Mercedes behind him. Moving Russell back into P2. Ferrari then decided enough was enough and pitted Leclerc for mediums one lap later. It was too late though as he came out behind Perez, who had struggled but was finding some good pace towards the end of the race.
At this point, Hamilton was back on a charge having made a late stop for soft tyres. Putting in fastest lap after fastest lap, he was able to make his way up to the podium places with ease. When he came across his teammate 5 laps from the end there appeared to be no team orders and they were allowed to race. However, Hamilton was just faster and after a clean battle, he did a switch back coming out of turn 1 on his teammate to take P2.
Verstappen took the chequered flag to win his 50th Grand Prix and be 80 points ahead in the drivers’ championship heading into the summer break. Mercedes got a second consecutive double podium, and it looks like they are on pace to compete for race wins if it weren’t for issues in qualifying. However, with the technical directive coming into play in Spa, this could affect the race pace of the top teams. Either way, Ferrari needs a flawless second half of the season to get back in the championship hunt.
George Russell has taken the first pole position of his Formula 1 career ahead of tomorrow’s Hungarian Grand Prix, while championship leader Verstappen could only muster tenth owing to power issues.
Russell flew somewhat under the radar in Q3, setting no purple sectors but instead improving on his own personal best in each to take a surprise pole. It follows what Russell himself referred to in the post-session interview as the ‘worst Friday of the season’ for his Mercedes team. Indeed, after the rain in FP3 on Saturday morning there were some concerns that he and team-mate Hamilton were in danger of not even making it out of Q1.
Lining up behind Russell on the grid will be Sainz and Leclerc, the former having looked to be the favoured driver to take pole until the final moments of the session.
Further down the order, Hamilton could only manage P7 owing to a DRS issue that forced him to abandon his final run in Q3.
It was not a good day for championship leaders Red Bull. Verstappen had looked competitive, but as he left the garage for his final run and started his out lap he warned his engineer over the radio that he had ‘no power’. He was given a couple of potential solutions but it was to no avail. The Dutchman starts tomorrow’s race in P10.
Things weren’t much better for his team-mate, Sergio Perez. Perez had had a lap deleted in Q2 due to an alleged track limits breach at Turn 5, only for replays to show he hadn’t actually crossed the white line at all. His time was reinstated and he looked to be safe. However, in the closing moments of the session he was pushed into the drop zone. In a case of bad timing from Red Bull, rather than being out on track and able to respond, Perez was instead being wheeled back into the garage. He starts P11.
With a few drivers relatively out of position compared to a ‘normal’ qualifying session, tomorrow’s race promises to be a very intriguing one.
The last race before the summer break takes us to Hungary, a track that last year produced carnage at the start and one of the strangest restarts in history with only Hamilton taking the lights on the grid. Ferrari has it all to do so that they can go into the summer break with some positive energy in the team.
Hungarian GP 2021
Last year saw the race start wet, which meant everyone started on intermediates but created chaos at the start. Bottas got a poor start but couldn’t slow down fast enough for turn one, hitting the back of Norris. This created a chain reaction, Norris hit Verstappen, Bottas hit Perez and behind them, Stroll had crashed into Leclerc, who hit Ricciardo.
This created a red flag, allowing the track to dry, and on the formation lap to the restart grid, all drivers apart from Hamilton dived into the pits to get slick tyres, creating one of the weirdest standing starts in Formula 1 history.
The race itself is known as an exciting track with plenty of overtaking opportunities and a great place to rack up some decent points for the championship.
Ferrari’s strategy calls in question… again
It’s no secret that in the last few years Ferrari has managed to build a reputation for making strategic decisions that often get in their own way. The French GP was no exception to this.
After losing Leclerc from the race early on, they only had to focus on Sainz, who was making great progress through the field and looked on pace for a podium. However, with 10 laps to go Ferrari decided to pit him for fresh tyres. He was on the mediums, and it was questionable if they would make it to the end, but Sainz was at a good pace and had just past Perez in P4.
These calls have now created a situation where Ferrari will need an almost flawless performance from now on. For Leclerc who is now 63 points behind Verstappen, he needs a clean weekend to take that confidence into the summer break
Double podium Mercedes
Mercedes had their first double podium since the Saudi Arabian GP in 2021. They are currently the most reliable team on the grid, and at their fastest, they have been able to pick up podiums when the top two falter.
However, they are now consistently on the pace and fight for the podium places now merit. Hamilton seems to have returned to his performance after a shaky first part of the season and Russell is still consistent. Hungary has always been a happy hunting ground for them, so they will want to replicate their past success.
Alpine is at the top of the midfield pack
Alpine has fond memories of the Hungarian GP last year, Ocon got his first win in Formula 1 and Alonso had an epic battle with Hamilton, helping out his teammate from the charging Silver Arrow. This year they appeared to have a faster car to bring to the fight.
In France, Alpine definitely had the measure of its closest championship rival, McLaren. Alonso appeared to taunt the papaya behind him and finished P6, while his teammate finished in P8 after an early incident with Tsunoda.
However, they are only four points ahead and McLaren seems to be having unpredictable performances. Alpine can’t rely on that pace alone with the midfield battle so close.
Round 4 at Budapest signifying we are nearly halfway through this exciting season. In an 8 race season every race counts, so it’s important to optimise the more tighter style at the Hungaroring compared to the fast track of Silverstone.
The Hungaroring is a 4.38km circuit which held its first Formula 1 race in 1986, with this year’s race being its 36th event. The first females to race at the track were Annette Meuvissen and Mercedes Stermitz in 1988 during a one-off DTM race. Since then, there have been relatively few females’ appearances. However, on the 2021 W Series grid 3 drivers have had experience here.
Beitske Visser has the most experience at the Hungaroring, competing in 2014, 2015 and 2016 in the Renault 3.5 World Series and in the GT4 Euro South competition. When GP3 supported F1 in 2012 both Alice Powell and Vicky Piria competed around the track, however neither made the points.
Can Alice Powell hold on to the lead?
During a dramatic Silverstone race where, after qualifying on pole with a stunning lap, Alice Powell lost first position in the first few corners, then had a race-long battle with Fabienne Wohlwend to eventually come out on top. This adds to her win in round 1, and with Jamie Chadwick finishing in 3rd at Silverstone this means Powell is currently on top of the standings, 6 points ahead of Chadwick.
Alice Powell is having a good season so far, getting her first pole position in the series and beating her number of wins from the whole of the 2019 season. Widely considered a very strong contender for the championship, Powell is taking advantage of her run of form.
Jamie Chadwick, however, is looking to fight back. After a 3rd place finish at Silverstone where she was on her own all race, she is hoping for a strong race weekend in Hungary to take back the lead of the championship and add to her win from round 2 at the Red Bull Ring.
Sarah Moore and Wohlwend are not far behind Chadwick in the standings, and a strong race for both means they come into this weekend with confidence. Wohlwend in particular had an impressive performance in her fight with Powell, which she will be hoping to repeat in Budapest.
Caitlin Wood’s comeback
The 24-year-old Australian competed in the inaugural 2019 W Series season, but narrowly missed out on automatic qualifying for the next season at the Brands Hatch and was therefore listed as a reserve driver. She finished 13th overall with 11 points scored and a highest finish of 5th.
Caitlin will be racing for PUMA this weekend; she is the first Australian woman to compete successfully in the European scene. She has also taken part in GT4 European Series and Formula Ford along among others.
Many drivers looking to improve their own performances for this weekend and it will be exciting to watch who can tackle this track which is known to test fitness and skill. Qualifying starts at 3:30pm GMT on Friday, lights out at 3:30pm GMT on Saturday.
After an excellent and action packed two-race weekend in Austria to open the 2020 Formula One season, our attention was turned to Hungary for race three. Known as Monaco without the close barriers (and minus a luxury yacht or ten) the Hungaroring had the potential to deliver even more thrills and spills and didn’t it just. Without further ado, let’s take a look at some Hungarian Grand Prix weekend highlights and yet even more talking points.
Quite frankly, I don’t think there’s anywhere else you could possibly start, is there? Fresh off the back of a masterclass in Styrian, Hamilton arrived at the Hungaroring needing just one win to equal the Michael Schumacher’s record of eight wins in Hungary. Boy, didn’t he deliver!
Hamilton’s mind-blowing qualifying meant he started on pole, leaving the field needing something to happen at turn’s one and two or it was game over. Sure enough, Hamilton had it all his own way as he cruised through the opening corners and never looked back. In fact, the Brit opened up a staggering eight-second lead by lap three. Oh, and he had a free stop at the end of the race to claim the fastest lap crown and that all-important extra point.
Put simply, Hamilton and his unstoppable Mercedes were once again class apart and he thoroughly deserved his 86th career win.
Oh, Red Bull!
Being a Red Bull fan wasn’t easy this weekend. Both drivers reported issues all weekend, Albon’s qualifying was one to forget and race day was looking like it was headed for disaster. Did it end up being a disaster? Absolutely not! However, did it very nearly not happen at all? Absolutely!
My memory doesn’t always serve me correct but that said, I can not for the life of me remember the last time there was pandemonium on the grid prior to lights out as there was on Sunday. Just 12 corners into the pre-formation lap, Red Bull’s race looked as if it run before it had even began. Locking up into Turn 12, Verstappen collided with the barriers, leaving him needing a miracle to make lights out.
Thankfully, the Red Bull mechanics were not about to let the story end there. Not only did they get the job done but they got the job done spectacular fashion. Usually, the job that they were facing to repair his damaged RB16 would take around an hour and a half to put right however, somehow they pulled it out the bag in just 20 minutes!
Verstappen, in return, managed to take himself from 7th to 2nd, dedicated his podium to his mechanics and telling them on the team radio, “This podium is definitely dedicated to my mechanics”.
As for Albon, he managed to get over his Saturday session and pull himself from 13th to 5th. Albon has developed a reputation for getting it done when he’s up against it on a Sunday and once again, he didn’t disappoint. Although, he very nearly didn’t have a finish at all (more on this shortly).
I had a decision on who to mention first between Haas and Racing Point (or Mercedes depending on how you feel about the ongoing battle with Renault – sorry, Lawrence). I decided on Racing Point because yet again I am left wondering what else had this car got in it?
Racing Point locked out the second row of the grid. However, despite Stroll dropping a place to finish fourth and Perez dropping three places to end up in P7, that’s still very impressive. Here’s why.
Both Stroll and Perez were constantly giving their rivals something to think with their pace. It looked as if Stroll was going to start on the front row for only the second time in his career – only to be denied of course, by Mercedes.
This was another great showing from a team, who firmly believe we haven’t seen the best of yet. With a week off between now and the British and 70th anniversary Grand Prix’s at Silverstone, how much more can they improve ahead of next year’s rebranding? Personally, I’m not sure but I know one thing – I can’t wait! Well done, Racing Point. A point is certainly starting to be made. Loud and clear too!
Haas Haas Haas
No, that’s not a misprint, that’s actually Kevin Magnussen and Haas laughing all the way to Silverstone with a 9th place finish and two championship points in the bag! Oh, wait… Checks notes… Maybe not, because after what looked like a masterstroke from Haas was actually a breach of rules and ultimately cost the team a place after both Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were each handed a 10-second time penalty.
With the formation lap coming to an end, Haas decided that the track conditions were improving and that running on intermediate tyres was old news. Both drivers were told to pit for soft tyres which, as I mentioned, was a masterstroke. They eventually found themselves running in 3rd and 4th respectively. This was great to see but it was the long game they were using this strategy to benefit from.
To me at the time I thought it was a brilliant strategic work however, after the race the FIA thought otherwise and decided they had actually breached the regulations. Great thinking Haas but there’s undercutting and then there’s breaking the rules. It’s a far cry from what Guenther Steiner once described them as looking like though and credit where it’s due, it was still a very good showing.
George Russell and Williams
Now, I know that both Russell and teammate Nicholas Latifi both had a nightmare of a race, as Williams remain the only team yet to score a point this season. However, both drivers did amazingly well in qualifying, marking the first time two Williams drivers made it through to Q2 since 2018. Doesn’t seem that long? Well, think back to last season’s horror show at Williams and it does.
Russell was outstanding in qualifying and actually gets my highlight of the weekend with his ‘That’s the lap, That’s the lap’ reaction on the team radio after he put in a worldy of a lap to go 5th at the end of Q1. I’m not going to be the one and I don’t really need to say it BUT Russell right now is surely putting in a great audition for a certain seat in the coming year or so.
Another busy day for the stewards, and another Renault protest
Oh boy, where to start! In fact, there’s only one place and that’s with Renault vs Racing Point – part four!
As we all know by know, Renault are serious not letting go of break-duct gate and after the race, issued the following statement:
‘We confirm that Renault DP World F1 Team has submitted a request to the Stewards of the Event for clarification on the legality of the Racing Point RP20. We have no further comment on this matter until the Stewards have arrived at a decision.’
Rewind a week to the day and it’s the same statement regarding the same battle – the legality of the Racing Point. Renault is adamant that Racing Point has broken the rules when designing their car, while Racing Point are categorically denying any wrongdoing. Who is right and who is wrong? Well, you can make your own mind up but for me, I really don’t see how we are this far along and this is still a conversation. Renault though are not letting go and have said that they will contest every race weekend until the FIA give them full closure. The FIA have already told Racing Point that their car is legal but Renault are still having none of it!
Renault versus Racing Point wasn’t the only thing that the stewards were looking at after this weekend’s race. There was also Albon’s dry start, Valtteri Bottas’ jump start, as well as the aforementioned Haas double-time penalty.
For Albon, the stewards came to the decision that Red Bull did not use their dryers to dry his grid spot and no further action was deemed necessary.
As for Bottas, that is very much self-explanatory. Yes, he jumped the start by the finest of margins but ultimately he didn’t benefit from it as he dropped a place from P2 to P3. Had he benefited from the error or even overtaken Verstappen to claim second place then maybe there could/would have been something done about it, but as it is, Bottas is the only one who has suffered as he surrendered his championship lead to teammate its Hamilton.
So, as the F1 takes its first break since returning, you have to admit that while it wasn’t as action-packed as rain-struck Austria, the conflicting opinions on the teams radios as to whether it was going to rain or not, and indeed when, was brilliant to listen to. Hungary wasn’t the best race given Hamilton’s and Mercedes’ pure dominance once again but overall, it was a great way to prepare us for a huge doubleheader at Silverstone.