Hungarian Grand Prix race review

Verstappen on top in Hungary as Ferrari implode yet again

July 31, 2022

Max Verstappen extended his Championship lead following a comfortable win in Hungary, holding off a fast charging Lewis Hamilton, with George Russell making it yet another double podium for Mercedes.

Ferrari’s questionable strategy once again cost them a podium and perhaps even a win as Carlos Sainz finished fourth ahead of the other Red Bull of Sergio Pérez, with Charles Leclerc finishing sixth.

McLaren’s Lando Norris finished seventh ahead of the Alpine pair of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, while Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel finished tenth and took home the final point. 

Ferrari dropped the ball once again as the once-race leader Charles Leclerc, who was looking set for a win, came in for a switch to the hard compound which effectively dropped him out of contention for the win; a sixth-place finish has put him further back in the Championship battle. Starting 10th and 11th, a win and P5 also see Red Bull further extend their lead in the Constructors’ Championship as well.

Maiden pole-sitter George Russell got off well once the lights were off and held off Leclerc and Sainz, both of whom were trying to pip the Mercedes driver into Turn 1. While Russell held off Sainz, Hamilton made up a couple of places to move up to fifth, while Verstappen, starting tenth, made one place up to ninth.

An early virtual safety car was deployed on the opening lap following contact between the Williams of Alex Albon and the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll. It was a short VSC as it left the track on the next lap and Russell caught both Ferrari drivers sleeping and got away.

Verstappen, who had started 10th due to a power issue, had a new unit in the back of his Red Bull and was already showing promising pace as he picked off Alonso for seventh by the fifth lap. He continued his charge through the field and, as Hamilton picked Norris for fourth, the Dutchman made it a double move on the McLaren man on Lap 12 to make up an incredible five places inside the opening 12 laps. 

Race leader George Russell was the first to pit on Lap 17 and re-joined in sixth, while Sainz led from Leclerc up front with Hamilton in third. Sainz came in for his stop on the next lap, but a slow stop from the Ferrari crew undid his strong race pace early in the race.

Following the rest of the front-runners stopping for their stops, Russell led once again, this time from Leclerc, who was putting the young Brit under tremendous pressure and, after attacking the Mercedes for numerous laps, eventually took the lead of the race from Russell on Lap 31. After being passed by Leclerc, Russell was under pressure from the other Ferrari of Sainz.

Leclerc seemed to be heading for another win, with his Ferrari showing decent pace to hold on to that lead, but Ferrari called him in for his second stop on Lap 40 and surprisingly switched the Monégasque onto the hard compound tyres, which was an interesting choice given how every driver who had switched to the hards till that point had struggled to find pace on that compound.

Leclerc rejoined in third place and was a sitting duck when Verstappen overtook him the next lap. The Dutchman seemed to have undone all of his good work on Lap 42, however, as he lost his rear and spun, but he managed to retake the position from Leclerc within two laps.

Hamilton came in for his second stop on Lap 52, which saw Verstappen inherit the lead, and while Hamilton rejoined in fifth, Russell was third ahead of Sainz with Leclerc struggling in second.

Russell got past Leclerc on Lap 54, with the Monégasque struggling on the hard compound, and came in for a third stop on Lap 55. Behind the top three, Hamilton, following his second stop, was the fastest man on track, putting in fastest laps one after the other, and on Lap 62, he overtook Sainz for third place. It didn’t take Hamilton to overtake his teammate for second place, and a late VSC due to Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas’ retirement meant Verstappen didn’t have to worry too much about the charging Hamilton, although a couple of more laps could’ve made things very different for the seven-time World Champion.

In a race that didn’t have a lot of drama, Verstappen did everything asked of him and made the most of the incidents around him to take a stunning eighth win of the season. He has now begun to put a good gap between himself and Leclerc in the Championship battle and has an 80-point lead in the Drivers’ title race; heading into the summer break, this is exactly what he would’ve hoped for.

Sergio Pérez is now five points behind Leclerc in third place, while Hamilton’s consecutive second-place finishes have put him right on the tail of Sainz in fifth place. Russell’s podium has put him in fourth place, two points ahead of Sainz.

Red Bull’s stellar showing in Hungary has seen them take a 97-point lead in the Constructors’ Championship. To make things worse for Ferrari, Mercedes are now just 30 points behind them in third place. 

The summer break doesn’t come at the worst time for Ferrari, though, who would be welcoming it following a host of nightmarish races. After looking like early Championship contenders at the start of the season, they have gone on to regularly drop the ball. They need to reset their season and take the fight to Red Bull if they want to stay in the Championship fight.

Red Bull, on the other hand, have started to run away with title, and if they can maintain their current form once racing resumes on August 27 in Belgium, it won’t be long before the Championship is decided. 

Aditya Chaudhuri

Hailing from the City of Joy, the things that bring me joy are cricket, a good non-tilt CS:GO session, F1 and movies.

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