SUNDAY’S Hungarian Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen further increase his lead in the Formula 1 World Championship for Drivers and goes into Formula 1’s summer break with a commanding 80 point advantage over his closest rival, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen’s win did not come easily, however, for the Red Bull team suffered technical issues in qualifying which resulted in both the World Champion and team mate Sergio Perez starting the race from 10th and 11th places on the grid. The Dutch driver made steady progress during the early stages of the race, however, working his way into the lead on lap 51. His only problem came with a harmless spin at the end of lap 41, but he lost little time recovering his position.
Mercedes’ George Russell caused a sensation by taking pole position on Saturday, the first of his F1 career, and he led the race for 30 laps before being overtaken by Leclerc’s Ferrari. Any hope Leclerc had to win the race ended when Ferrari elected to move him onto hard compound tyres on lap 39. Thereafter he dropped back, finishing 6th with team mate Carlos Sainz 4th.
Russell finished 3rd, team mate Lewis Hamilton driving a very strong race to finish 2nd in his Mercedes, a fine result after starting the race 7th.
“This was a another race which showed just how competitive Formula 1 is at the moment,” said Mika Hakkinen. “Of course Max Verstappen has the quickest, most consistent car, but the big picture on Sunday is that Russell, Leclerc, Sainz and Hamilton led at some point, and the way the cars can follow each other thanks to the ’22 regulations is very positive. There was so much happening and, when you consider Max even had a spin, I think 3 or 4 drivers could have won this race.”
“Max’s win was very impressive because he had to start 10th and work his way through the traffic, but he did everything he needed to and the team gave him the right strategy to take the win. In some ways a victory like this shows just how much confidence Max has in himself and the car. Even when they hit problems they don’t panic, just focus on recovering quickly. Checo Perez’s good drive into 5th now puts him only 5 points behind Leclerc in the World Championship, so Red Buil are looking to turn this into a 1-2 result if Ferrari does not find a way to respond.”
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“Charles, Carlos and the Ferrari team management will hopefully use the summer break to discuss how they can take the fight to Red Bull more aggressively, and also defend against an improved Mercedes. On Sunday we saw Charles using two sets of medium tyres, then the team move him onto a set of hard tyres which really were the wrong tyre to be on. It was hard to understand that decision, and Charles knew it was the wrong way to go. When the team finally put him onto a set of soft tyres on lap 54 the race was lost and he was not able to recover any positions. This is not the first time we have questioned Ferrari’s mid-race decision making, and it’s an area they will need to work on.”
“Finally, this was a weekend when we saw Sebastian Vettel announce that he will retire from Formula 1 racing at the end of the season, followed by the news that his replacement will be Fernando Alonso – that’s a big move for both of them.”
“Sebastian has been a great World Champion, a fantastic ambassador for the sport and is very popular with the fans To win four World Championship titles at Red Bull was a really great achievement, and he came very close at Ferrari too. It’s easy to forget that he was the only one to really challenge Lewis’s dominance in 2017 and 2018.”
“Choosing the right moment to retire is never easy, but when you have won World Championships you definitely know the moment when giving 100% is not going to be possible any more. In Formula 1 you need to have that total commitment to win, to do the work inside the team and accept the constant travel, together with the impact on family. Sebastian has clearly felt that moment is now, and I wish him every success for the future.”
“The news that Fernando Alonso is to replace Sebastian at Aston Martin will surprise many people, but he remains very passionate about racing in Formula 1 and has shown some really strong performances at Alpine. He really helped Esteban Ocon secure that famous win in Hungary last year. As a two times World Champion he brings a lot of experience as well as a big profile, qualities with the management at Aston Martin value highly. It’s a really interesting driver change for 2023.”