Despite starting from 10th on the grid, Max Verstappen drove an excellent race to win the Hungarian Grand Prix and extend his lead in the Championship. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was twice passed by Verstappen, raising fresh doubts about the team’s race operations.
Verstappen overtook pole-sitting Mercedes driver George Russell, who finished third behind Lewis Hamilton, on account of Red Bull’s pit strategy and matched the podium from the last Grand Prix in France. Sainz was fourth and Leclerc sixth as Ferrari’s season went from bad to worse.
With nine events remaining, Verstappen’s 80-point lead over Leclerc appears unassailable, given Red Bull’s consistency and Ferrari’s uncertainty.
It was a race of contrasting strategies and the constant threat of rain on a windy, grey and cool day, which perfectly captured the season so far.
Despite starting from the back of the grid due to engine problems, Verstappen was assertive in overtaking the competition to finish in second place. The Red Bull team was aggressive in their strategy but Ferrari was indecisive as neither of their drivers finished in the podium positions even after starting on the grid at second and third.
From 10th to 1st Place for Verstappen
At the beginning of the race, Verstappen and Red Bull utilised soft tyres to make up ground, and by the time the action settled down following the first pit stops, he was in fourth place only three seconds behind Russell, Leclerc, and Sainz. Ferrari pitted Sainz four laps earlier than Leclerc, apparently to get the Frenchman out in front first.
Leclerc overtook Russell on lap 31, and Verstappen remained in fourth place after seven more laps, having pitted for a second set of mediums.
When Leclerc and Russell attempted to follow him in a lap later, the Mercedes driver drove out behind the Red Bull and Ferrari team made the mistake of fitting the hard tyres on which Leclerc found no grip.
After two laps, Verstappen overtook Leclerc, only to spin at the final bend, handing the Ferrari driver the lead again. However, four laps later, he caught and overtook him once again.
Hamilton Claims Second Spot
Hamilton, unlike Russell and Verstappen, who both started on soft tyres, ran mediums for most of the race, stopping 13 laps after the Dutchman and changing to softs for a relatively brief final stint.
He was able to catch up with the drivers in front after his second pit stop when he switched to the soft tyres. Leclerc had to pit out of the way and abandon the hard tyres that were fitted on the car at the second stop. Hamilton passed Sainz on lap 61 and then closed in on Russell, who was struggling with worn tyres, and finally overtook him on the last five laps.
More Errors for Ferrari
The Ferrari’s day appeared to fall apart with a series of apparent strategy errors as their goal to catch up to Verstappen went awry. Leclerc was quicker than Sainz in the early laps, but Sainz was unable to pass Russell in the lead. After a lap, Sainz made his first pit stop after Russell but he drive out behind him.
Having given Leclerc a tyre advantage over Russell in the lead, the team ran him for five additional laps to compensate for his pit stop. This strategy worked perfectly. After battling for five laps, Leclerc ultimately overtook the Mercedes on lap 31 as he rounded Turn One.
It looked like the race would be won from there but at the second pit stop; Ferrari chose to change the tyres to hard. However, Verstappen soon passed him, as he lacked grip when he rejoined in third place behind Sainz and Hamilton.
His hard tyres didn’t provide any traction, but rather than trying to stay on, he switched to softs with 17 laps to go. He still didn’t make any progress, and he finished sixth, behind Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.
Sainz was ahead of the Mercedes until his stop on lap 47, running a long middle stint like Hamilton. However, when Hamilton pitted four laps later, he caught up with and passed Sainz within 10 laps, leaving Maranello without a podium finish.
McLaren driver Lando Norris drove a consistent race, beating the Alpine cars of Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, who utilised the hard tyre for their second part of the race in order to finish their one-stop strategy.
On the weekend Sebastian Vettel announced he will retire at the end of the season, he took the final point for Aston Martin.
Williams Racing Performance
Alex Albon finished 17th and Nicholas Latifi 18th and ran a three stop race, with the only plus point Latifi recording the 8th best fastest lap, ahead of former Williams Racing driver George Russell who finished 3rd.
What they said:
Dave Robson, Head of Vehicle Performance:
Unfortunately, the rain was never enough to affect the race and with both cars suffering damage on the 1st lap, we were forced into a difficult race. Alex had to box for a new front wing on lap 2 and although Nicky was able to continue, the damage to his wing did cost him performance for the rest of the race. All the tyre compounds were difficult today with many drivers unhappy about at least one of their choices. We opted to avoid the Hard tyre, which offered poor pace, and this required a very disciplined race from both drivers.
It has been a challenging weekend and we are now looking forward to a break from the track. When the 2nd half of the season starts in a few weeks’ time the races come quickly, starting in Belgium. Fortunately, Spa is a very different track to the Hungaroring and we are looking forward to being more competitive there.
The race was okay. We were a bit out of sequence with the early damage and there was a lot of tyre degradation and a lot of pitstops, which didn’t make it easy. It’s been a tricky weekend for us, but it has been a good learning weekend, continuing to understand the strengths and the weaknesses of the new package. Looking back at the season so far, personally I’m happy; it’s gone well and better than I expected, and I go into the summer break pretty happy. Obviously, we’re not where we want to be positioning on circuits, but we’ve got time to reset now and we’ll come back stronger after the break.
Unfortunately, our race was compromised at the start through some front wing damage. It wasn’t great as the damage set us back with much more tyre degradation than we were hoping for. The balance was very tricky with the wind, so we have to find a way to adjust that later in the season. Not the best way to go into the summer break, but we’ll take the time to recharge and look to bounce back in Spa.
Hungarian Grand Prix Results
|Track: Hungaroring, Hungary||Lap Length: 4.381 km|
|Pos||Driver||Team||Time/Gap (Fastest Lap)||Grid||Tyre Changes|
|1.||M. Verstappen||Oracle Red Bull Racing||1:39:35.912|
|17.||A. Albon||Williams Racing||+ 1 LAP|
|18.||N. Latifi||Williams Racing||+ 1 LAP|
2022 FIA Formula One World Championship Schedule
|1||20-Mar-22||Bahrain Grand Prix||Bahrain IC, Sakhir|
|2||27-Mar-22||Saudi Arabia Grand Prix||Jeddah Street Circuit, Jeddah|
|3||10-Apr-22||Australian Grand Prix||Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne|
|4||24-Apr-22||Emilia Romagna Grand Prix||Imola|
|5||08-May-22||Miami Grand Prix||Miami International Autodrome, Miami|
|6||22-May-22||Spanish Grand Prix||Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona|
|7||29-May-22||Monaco Grand Prix||Monte Carlo, Monaco|
|8||12-Jun-22||Azerbaijan Grand Prix||Baku City Circuit, Baku|
|9||19-Jun-22||Canadian Grand Prix||Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal|
|10||03-Jul-22||British Grand Prix||Silverstone|
|11||10-Jul-22||Austrian Grand Prix||Red Bull Ring, Spielberg|
|12||24-Jul-22||French Grand Prix||Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet|
|13||31-Jul-22||Hungarian Grand Prix||Hungaroring, Mogyorod|
|14||28-Aug-22||Belgian Grand Prix||Spa-Francorchamps, Francorchamps|
|15||04-Sep-22||Dutch Grand Prix||Zandvoort|
|16||11-Sep-22||Italian Grand Prix||Monza|
|17||02-Oct-22||Singapore Grand Prix||Marina Bay, Singapore|
|18||09-Oct-22||Japanese Grand Prix||Suzuka|
|19||23-Oct-22||United States Grand Prix||Circuit of the Americas, Austin|
|20||30-Oct-22||Mexican Grand Prix||Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City|
|21||13-Nov-22||Brazilian Grand Prix||Interlagos, Sao Paulo|
|22||20-Nov-22||Abu Dhabi Grand Prix||Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi|