This F1 Review Hungary 2019 was written by Nick van der Meulen.
After the action and mayhem of the German Grand Prix the previous weekend, the Hungarian Grand Prix was sedate in comparison – although it was to be expected. The race came alive with a few laps to go, however, which kept the fans on their collective seats.
Max Verstappen (Red Bull Racing-Honda) claimed his first pole position in F1 and made the most of his grid position, leading from the start until Lap 26, when he warned the team twice about lack of rear grip. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) was doing the chasing and eventually closed the gap, after which a cat-and-mouse battle ensued between the rivals. The Englishman suffered from overheating brakes, which compromised his initial attack on the Red Bull racer.
The Mercedes team rolled the dice when it came to a second pit stop and Hamilton faced a 21-second deficit with 21 laps of the race to run. Red Bull Racing opted not to pit their charge – the question was: which strategy would pay off?
Hamilton had six cars to deal with between himself and Verstappen, while the Dutchman ran comfortably in free air. The Silver Arrow was on the ragged edge as it hunted down the RBR. The Red Bull Racing driver’s tyres cried enough with five laps to go and Hamilton sailed past into the lead with three laps remaining, which he held to the fall of the chequered flag. Verstappen stopped soon afterwards in the hope that he could gain the bonus point for fastest lap, doing so on the penultimate lap and shattering the lap record.
Click here to watch an interesting video on F1 engine technology.
Another rough weekend
Valtteri Bottas had a miserable race. He was involved in a skirmish for position on Lap 1, where teammate Hamilton passed Bottas for second place, clipping the Finn’s front wing plate – only for Charles Leclerc to do the same to the Finn a corner later. This compromised Bottas’s race, as he had to pit for a new wing after lapping over 3 seconds a lap slower than his rivals. He recovered from stone last to claim points for eighth place.
Ferrari was hopelessly outclassed on race day, running distantly behind Verstappen and Hamilton. They had their own personal battle for the final step of the podium, with Sebastian Vettel hauling in Charles Leclerc hand-over-fist, the German passing his young teammate on the penultimate lap.
Lando Norris (McLaren-Renault), Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) and Pierre Gasly (Red Bull Racing-Honda) ran in close contention for the first half of the race, each driver unable to do anything about the other. Gasly managed to work his way past his rivals soon after half distance and pull away comfortably.
Carlos Sainz (McLaren-Renault), meanwhile, had an almost anonymous race, but drove to finish a superb fifth ahead of Gasly, Raikkonen, Bottas, Norris and Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso-Honda).
Renault had another torrid weekend. Daniel Ricciardo had a disastrous qualifying and paid the price for it, working hard to get to the mid-field pack and pitting for his one and only stop on Lap 48. Teammate Nico Hulkenberg was running in sixth place by half distance, but fell away mysteriously after his pit stop, finishing not far ahead of his teammate.
George Russell had his best weekend for Williams to date, qualifying 16th and running in that vicinity for the race, punching above his weight – a sight Claire Williams must have found encouraging.
On-track action in the second half of the race was limited to Ricciardo locking up his brakes chasing Kevin Magnussen (Haas-Ferrari) for 14th place. The “honey badger” was complaining about Magnussen’s movements under braking to defend – a complaint that was not unjustified, yet went unpunished.
A summer break
So, the first half of the 2019 season is behind us and the F1 circus faces a three-week break. Lewis Hamilton will be pleased knowing he could turn his disaster at Hockenheim around and increase his world championship lead in the process.
Max Verstappen was still smiling easily after the race in Budapest, even though he must have been disappointed with finishing second after doing everything right – he is not far from second place in the title chase and must be confident leading into the second half of the season.
The Ferrari team and drivers will not have such a restful holiday – they have much work to do to bridge the gap to Hamilton and Verstappen, a thought that will surely be echoed by Bottas. The Minnows of the F1 grid will be working hard behind the scenes to improve for the second half of the season and I’m sure only the drivers will be seen to be resting…
You can watch race highlights at this link.