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2021 Hungarian GP Race Recap : A New Blue, Hungary for Wins!

The Hungarian Grand Prix was the final race before the summer break of the 2021 F1 Season. Hungaroring, a street circuit located near Budapest, the capital of Hungary, features a 71 lap race with two DRS zones and has delivered exciting battles in the past, despite its tight and twisty nature. It is also referred to as "Monaco, but without the walls". 



Leading up to the Hungarian GP, the clash between Hamilton and Verstappen at the British GP remained the centre of focus. Hamilton became the victim of online racial abuse, but the F1 world rallied to support the World Champion and reiterate their stand against racism



Verstappen's crash cost Red Bull 1.3 million pounds, and Red Bull's top brass wasn't pleased with the severity of the penalty meted out to Hamilton at the British GP, requesting another review of the footage of the clash with Verstappen. The petition to review got disallowed by the race stewards. Mercedes issued a statement welcoming the stewards' decision and extended its full support to Hamilton. 



Verstappen, meanwhile, revealed that Hamilton had called him to check on his well-being, and the duo had a "discussion". The Dutchman, however, remained critical of Hamilton's post-race celebrations at the British GP.



The FIA decided to scrap the "minimum reaction time" rule ( for pit stops ) due to be introduced on the Hungarian GP weekend.



Hamilton had been playing catch-up in 2021, and now, only 8 points separated him from Verstappen. As for Mercedes, they were only 4 points shy of Red Bull. Hungaroring had been a fortress for Hamilton, with Mercedes enjoying a fair amount of success in the turbo era. Verstappen and Red Bull suffered a big dent in their quest for the Championships at the British GP and hoped to bounce back and extend their lead going into the summer break. Only nine points separated three teams vying for 5th place in the standings, while McLaren and Ferrari continued a heated battle for P3.



Who reigned supreme at Hungaroring? Time for a quick recap of the Hungarian GP!




Practice :


Kubica got the nod to take Raikkonen's place at Alfa Romeo for Free Practice 1. Alonso suffered a spin in the early minutes of FP1, with Leclerc running wide at turn five and Tsunoda losing the rear of his Alpha Tauri at turn nine. The session was short-lived for Tsunoda as the back of his car hit the barriers and brought out the red flags. 


Verstappen topped the timesheets at the end of FP1 from Bottas and Hamilton. Sainz was 4th for Ferrari, followed by Gasly, Alonso and Leclerc, who completed the top 7. Perez's best lap got him P8, with Norris and Stroll going a second slower than Verstappen in 9th and 10th, respectively. 


Ocon was 11th in the other Alpine, followed by Tsunoda, Vettel and Ricciardo. The Williams of Russell and Latifi were 15th and 16th. Kubica split the Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin in 18th, while teammate Giovinazzi was the slowest at the end of FP1. The Italian's program got cut short after five laps due to a technical issue. 




High track temperatures greeted the drivers at the start of FP2, and Verstappen complained about balance issues throughout the session. Norris and Hamilton had off-track moments while Leclerc locked up his medium tyres on an early run. 


Bottas was the fastest at the end of FP2, two-hundredths of a second clear of Hamilton, with Verstappen, almost three-tenths adrift in 3rd. Ocon was 4th for Alpine, followed by Perez, Gasly and Alonso. The Aston Martins of Vettel and Stroll got split by Norris in P9.


Leclerc and Sainz led the bottom half of the field. Ricciardo was P13 in the other Mclaren, followed by Raikkonen, who was more than two seconds slower than Bottas' time. The Williams of Russell and Latifi were 15th and 16th. Tsunoda, who got confined to the pits after his crash in FP1, managed to do one flying lap at the end of FP2, setting the 17th quickest time. Giovinazzi split the Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin at the back of the field.



The pace delta between the softs and the medium tyres meant that the front runners would get forced to set their Q2 times on the softer compound, subject to Qualifying being a dry session. Red Bull struggled to find the ideal balance on Verstappen's car, and they had work to do on Saturday morning. It seemed like advantage Mercedes.


 

It was an eventful Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning with Giovinazzi clipping the back of Stroll's car while exiting his pit garage. Alfa Romeo got fined 5000 euros for the unsafe release. The Italian would then get a reprimand ( his first of 2021 ) for impeding Gasly, who was on a flying lap. Schumacher lost control of his Haas and ended up hitting the barriers at turn 11, which brought out the yellow flag. The mechanics needed to thoroughly check the chassis and replace the gearbox, which attracted a five-place grid penalty for the race. It was a race against time before the start of Qualifying later in the afternoon. 


Hamilton ended FP3 the quickest, eight-hundredths clear off Verstappen. Bottas was 3rd, two-tenths adrift. The Ferraris of Sainz and Leclerc were 4th and 5th, while Perez split the McLarens of Norris and Ricciardo in 7th. Alonso and Stroll completed the top 10.


Gasly was 11th for Alpha Tauri, followed by Ocon and Vettel. His teammate Tsunoda was 14th, with Raikkonen getting the jump on the Williams duo of Russell and Latifi in 15th. Giovinazzi was 18th in the other Alfa Romeo, followed by the Haas cars of Schumacher and Mazepin.



Qualifying :


The track temperature was at an all-time high of 58 degrees C at the start of Qualifying. 


The Haas mechanics were busy working on Schumacher's car to ready it for a run in Q1. Tsunoda, Mazepin, Raikkonen and Giovinazzi were the first drivers out on track with a set of soft tyres. The tight and twisty nature of the circuit meant that drivers had to build a gap to avoid being hindered by the dirty air coming from the back of another car. 


Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Sainz, Gasly and Norris were the top 6, with Tsunoda, Russell, Latifi, Mazepin and Schumacher facing elimination at the end of the first runs. Replays showed that Gasly got impeded by Sainz at turn one. The Ferrari driver emerged from the pits and had to get onto the kerbs to avoid a collision with Gasly, who was on a flying lap. Thankfully, the Spaniard got a let off. Perez, who was a second slower than Verstappen, went in for another run but failed to make inroads and stayed in 9th. 


The final minutes of Q1 saw the Red Bulls, Ferraris, Alpines and Gasly stay put while the rest emerged from the pits with a fresh set of soft tyres. 


Verstappen, Hamilton, Bottas, Sainz, Gasly and Stroll were the top 6, while Tsunoda, Russell, Latifi, Mazepin and Schumacher got eliminated at the end of Q1. 



The start of Q2 saw both the Mercedes and Red Bull drivers emerge from the pits with medium tyres. Sainz, who was on his first attempt with a set of soft tyres, made a mistake at the penultimate corner and slid into the wall sideways, tearing off his front wing. He tried to get going again, but the front wing got lodged under the Ferrari, bringing him to a stop. The session got red-flagged with less than 7 minutes remaining. 


Hamilton, Leclerc, Verstappen, Alonso, Vettel and Gasly were the top 6, with Norris, Stroll, Raikkonen, Sainz and Giovinazzi facing elimination.


Grip levels were improving, and everyone else, except for Bottas, switched to the soft tyres for their final runs of Q2. Bottas improved to P3, while Verstappen went the quickest at the end of Q2. 


The following drivers made it to Q3 - Verstappen, Norris, Gasly, Perez, Alonso, Hamilton, Leclerc, Bottas, Ocon and Vettel while Ricciardo, Stroll, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi and Sainz suffered elimination. Eight-hundredths of a second denied Ricciardo from a Q3 appearance, the McLaren driver, visibly frustrated.



It was time for the top-ten shootout, and softs were the tyre of choice for all the drivers. Hamilton was the quickest at the end of the first runs, three-tenths clear of Bottas, with Verstappen half a second further adrift. 


Vettel opted to go out-of-sync with the rest and set the 8th quickest time ( provisionally ). 


The final minutes saw Hamilton emerge ahead of both the Red Bulls out of the pits. The Briton was slow on his out-lap, and both Verstappen and Perez faced the threat of failing to start their flying lap before the timer ran out. Hamilton backed up the Red Bull duo even more, eventually locking up at the penultimate corner himself. Although Verstappen survived Hamilton's ploy and started his lap before the timer ran out, Perez got denied a final shot. 


The change in track temperatures prevented the top 3 from improving their lap times.



Hamilton bagged Pole Position, the 101st of his career, from Bottas and Verstappen. Perez managed to hold onto 4th, less than seven-hundredths clear off Gasly, Norris and Leclerc. The Alpines of Ocon and Alonso were 8th and 9th, with Vettel completing the top 10.




Despite his questionable tactics at the end, Hamilton produced a stellar lap to take Pole Position. Mercedes locked out the front row after a long time in 2021 and seemed to have found a response to the Red Bull dominance. Verstappen, who had complained about balance and understeer issues all weekend, could only manage 3rd, while Perez, his teammate, had his work cut out playing the team role for Sunday. The Red Bulls were at a disadvantage with tyre choice as well, but if they could get a jump on the Mercedes drivers, they could influence a different result in the race.



Gasly was Alpha Tauri's best hope for points on Sunday again, while Tsunoda needed to charge from the back of the field, which seemed unlikely. The Japanese rookie continued to struggle, ending up in a lowly 16th, 1.5 seconds slower than his teammate. McLaren had a better chance at outscoring Ferrari, thanks to Sainz's crash in Q2. Norris managed to outqualify his teammate Ricciardo again. The latter had a free tyre choice, though, and a good strategy could help him make places on race day. As for Ferrari, Leclerc was their best bet for a big points haul, while Sainz needed to go aggressive if he was to salvage his weekend, a challenge considering the nature of the track.



Alpine had both its drivers in the top 10 and had an opportunity of reducing the deficit to Alpha Tauri and Aston Martin. Vettel would start the race on the softs, but Stroll had a free tyre choice; going deep into the race before their pit stops had paid dividends for the Aston Martin duo in the past. How the team would approach race day was a matter of great intrigue. 



Alfa Romeo had a better day at Qualifying with both its drivers in Q2. Raikkonen managed to outqualify Giovinazzi only for the second time this year but, with his superior racecraft, had an opportunity for another points-scoring finish. Russell failed to spring any surprise for Williams on Saturday. Latifi was second-best again. Schumacher couldn't participate in Qualifying but got the all-clear to race. Williams and Haas seemed destined for the back of the field. 



Race :


Red Bull decided to change the ICE, MGU-H, MGU-K, Turbo and Exhaust System on Verstappen's car after detecting a problem after Qualifying. The team believed it to be an after-effect of the crash suffered at Silverstone. Thankfully, the Dutchman didn't incur a penalty.


Sunday morning saw F3 Race 3 ( a support race ) happen under wet conditions after torrential rain hit the circuit. However, conditions changed quickly, with the track drying up before the Grand Prix. The threat of rain remained, though.


C2, C3 and C4 were the dry tyres available for the race, but a light downpour before the race made it unfeasible for the slicks. All teams chose to start the race with intermediate tyres. The FIA proceeded with a standing start. The weather forecast predicted 25 minutes of rain with increasing intensity, and then the circuit would dry up for slick tyres.



Giovinazzi decided to gamble and switched to the medium tyres at the end of the formation lap. The rest of the field stuck with the intermediate tyres and lined up on the grid for the race start.



The five red lights went out, and Verstappen had the best start off the line. Hamilton had a clean getaway too, but Bottas got swamped by Norris and Perez. Bottas then missed his braking point and rear-ended Norris, who went and crashed into Verstappen. Bottas claimed another victim in Perez in the same incident. Gasly had to take avoiding action and lost positions. Meanwhile, Stroll got onto the kerbs at turn one ( out-braking himself ) and hit Leclerc, who ended up hitting Ricciardo in the other McLaren, sending the latter into a spin. 



Bottas and Perez suffered from terminal damage, while Verstappen rejoined down in 9th, the right side of his Red Bull damaged severely ( bargeboard gone ). Leclerc and Stroll also retired from the race, while the McLarens of Ricciardo and Norris continued their race, with a lot of bodywork damage and aero loss. 



Verstappen pitted at the end of lap one for another set of intermediates and rejoined in 13th, losing more bodywork at the exit of the pit lane.



Debris got strewn across the track due to the two accidents on the opening lap, and the stewards decided to Red Flag the race. 



Hamilton had come out unscathed from the turn one melee, while Ocon and Vettel had moved up to 2nd and 3rd, respectively. Sainz and Tsunoda had gained 11 positions each and were up into 4th and 5th. The Williams of Latifi and Russell were 6th and 8th, while Raikkonen ( P9 ) and Schumacher ( P10 ) were in the points.



The cars returned to the pit lane, and Verstappen's car underwent extensive repairs. The Red Bull mechanics taped up parts of the floor in a quest to make the car as race-worthy as possible. Raikkonen opted for a front wing change while McLaren wheeled Norris' car into the garage. McLaren then informed the FIA Race Director that they were retiring Norris from the race. 



A brief lull followed, and sunshine broke through the clouds. The teams, however, stuck with the intermediate tyres for the new formation lap of the race restart. Only 15 drivers remained for the rest of the race. The FIA confirmed that it would be a standing start again. As the drivers made it around the track, a couple quipped that the conditions were ideal for switching to the slick tyres. 



Everyone bar Hamilton dived into the pits and switched to the medium tyres. The pit lane was a hub of activity, with some teams double stacking their stops. Alfa Romeo released Raikkonen from his box at the same time when Mazepin was turning into his. The duo made contact, with Raikkonen's left rear tyre clipping the right front tyre of Mazepin's Haas. The resulting contact damaged the front wishbone, and Mazepin was out of the race. The incident got flagged for investigation. Raikkonen's teammate Giovinazzi was also in trouble for speeding in the pit lane. 



Meanwhile, on track, Hamilton was the only driver to line up on the grid for the race restart, while the rest of the field waited in the pit lane for the light to go green. Hamilton had a clean getaway while Russell jumped some cars in the pit lane, re-entering the race in 2nd. Alonso got past Raikkonen for P8, and Russell got instructed by the FIA to hand the positions back after his illegal overtake in the pit lane. The Briton fell back from P2 to P7 on the restart lap itself ( lap 4 ). 



Hamilton acknowledged ruefully that the track was dry, and Mercedes instructed him to pit for slick tyres. The Briton pitted for a set of mediums but rejoined at the back of the pack in 14th. His title rival, Verstappen, was up to P11.



Ocon, Vettel, Latifi, Tsunoda, Sainz, Alonso, Russell, Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Schumacher were the top 10 at the end of lap 5.



Hamilton began his recovery in full earnest and was the quickest man on track. He closed in on Giovinazzi in the battle for P13. The Italian put up a fight but was unable to hold off the Mercedes on lap 10. Giovinazzi also got a ten-second stop-go penalty for his infringement of speeding in the pit lane ( at the restart ). Further up the field, Verstappen was now pressuring Schumacher for P10. 



Giovinazzi served his penalty on lap 12, while Schumacher defended valiantly from Verstappen. Verstappen, however, got past him on lap 15 after some fair but hard racing. Raikkonen's contact with Mazepin ( during his pit stop ) resulted in a ten-second penalty, making matters worse for Alfa Romeo. Meanwhile, Gasly also got past Schumacher for P11 on lap 16. 



Raikkonen pitted on lap 16 to serve his time penalty, switched to the hard tyres, and the team cleared debris from the front left brakes of his car. The debris had caused his front brakes to reach critical temperatures. The Finn rejoined in 14th and last. Hamilton relegated Schumacher to P12 on lap 16 and continued to set blistering lap times. Raikkonen closed up on Giovinazzi, and Alfa Romeo swapped their positions on lap 18.



Ocon, Vettel, Latifi, Tsunoda, Sainz, Alonso, Ricciardo, Verstappen and Gasly were the top 10 on lap 19. 



Vettel was within the DRS range of Ocon when Alpine asked the latter to extend plan A by five more laps. Hamilton, who had closed up on Gasly in the battle for P10, struggled to get past him, and Mercedes decided to switch his strategy, pitting him for a set of hards on lap 20. Hamilton rejoined in 12th, just ahead of Raikkonen, who set the fastest lap of the race. 



Ricciardo and Verstappen followed suit a lap later, switching to the hard tyres. However, a brilliant out-lap by Hamilton allowed him to jump the duo, the undercut working in Mercedes' favour. Hamilton then managed to jump Russell on lap 22 after the latter pitted for a fresh set of hard tyres. Hamilton was the fastest man on track, and Ferrari, sighting a threat for Sainz, asked him to pit on lap 23, but the Spaniard refused and decided to extend his stint a little more. Tsunoda, however, pitted for Alpha Tauri, jumping Latifi after the latter's stop to end up P6. Meanwhile, Hamilton got past Schumacher for P9 on lap 24.



Ocon, Vettel, Sainz, Alonso, Gasly, Tsunoda, Latifi, Hamilton, Schumacher and Russell were the top 10 at the end of lap 26.



Hamilton continued his charge up the field with a move on Latifi for P7, while there was a train of cars forming up behind Schumacher. Russell, Ricciardo and Verstappen got stuck behind the Haas car, and this allowed Raikkonen to reduce the deficit to the quartet. 



Gasly pitted for hard tyres on lap 31, rejoining in P8. Meanwhile, Hamilton got past Tsunoda for P5 ( lap 32 ). As soon as Hamilton completed the overtake on Tsunoda, Ferrari called Sainz in for his pit stop and switched him to the hard tyres. The Spaniard re-emerged in 4th.



Schumacher's tyres were rapidly losing grip, and the German lost four positions to Russell, Ricciardo, Verstappen and Raikkonen in the space of two laps. The German immediately pitted for hard tyres, rejoining in P13. 



Vettel finally pitted for hard tyres on lap 37 but had a 3.3 second stop. Alpine responded immediately, pitting Ocon on the next lap. The Frenchman emerged from the pits and managed to fend off the challenge from Vettel, who had set blistering sector times on his out-lap. Alonso, who inherited the lead after the pit stops, pitted on lap 40 for his only stop of the race and switched to the hard tyres. He rejoined the race in P5, behind Hamilton.



Gasly got past Latifi for P7 while Verstappen completed his 2nd pit stop, switching to the mediums and rejoining in P11 ( lap 41 ). Alonso was the fastest man on track, while Hamilton struggled to challenge Sainz for P3.



Ocon, Vettel, Sainz, Hamilton, Alonso, Tsunoda, Gasly, Latifi, Russell and Ricciardo were the top 10 at the end of lap 46.



Hamilton pitted again, on lap 48, switched to the medium tyres and rejoined the race in P5. The Briton got told to push till the end, and Mercedes believed he had the pace to win the race. Meanwhile, at the front, Ocon and Vettel closed in on Giovinazzi to lap the Alfa Romeo driver, and Ocon got compromised on the pit straight. The backmarker problem allowed Vettel to challenge Ocon for the lead into turn one, but Ocon managed to rebuff him. Alpha Tauri informed its drivers to swap positions as they believed Gasly had more speed than Tsunoda. The swap for P6 happened on lap 49. 



While Ocon and Vettel were busy clearing backmarkers, Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race, going four seconds faster than anyone on the track! Verstappen began his recovery for points by relegating Raikkonen to P12 on lap 50. 



The battle for P3 was hotting up, with Alonso getting within the DRS range of Sainz, and Hamilton, closing in on the duo. Meanwhile, Verstappen was pressuring Ricciardo for P10. Raikkonen pitted for the 2nd time, switching to the soft tyres on lap 55 and rejoined in P12. On the track, Hamilton sparred with Alonso in the battle for P4, but the latter fended off the challenge. The duo was side-by-side again a couple of laps later, but Alonso ensured that the status quo got maintained. Verstappen got into the points with an overtake on Ricciardo for P10 on lap 61.



Alonso continued to rebuff challenge after challenge by Hamilton, who complained about Alonso "moving under braking". The Spaniard finally made an uncharacteristic error at turn one, locking up his brakes ( lap 65 ) and leaving the door open. Hamilton closed up and overtook him with DRS assistance into turn two. The battle continued into the next couple of turns, but Hamilton had finally bagged P4. The Briton then quickly caught up to Sainz and got past him for P3 on lap 67. Less than six seconds separated Ocon and Vettel from Hamilton with four laps remaining.



Alonso pressured Sainz for P4, while Raikkonen got past Ricciardo for P11 ( lap 68 ). Gasly pitted for the soft tyres on lap 69, retaining P6 and going for the fastest lap point. The Frenchman achieved it on the final lap.



Ocon took the Chequered Flag and victory, having held off Vettel throughout the Grand Prix. Vettel was 2nd for Aston Martin, with Hamilton 3rd, just eight-tenths adrift.



Sainz bagged P4 for Ferrari, followed by Alonso and Gasly. Tsunoda was 7th in the other Alpha Tauri, followed by the Williams of Latifi and Russell, who managed to keep Verstappen at bay. Verstappen got the final point in P10.



Raikkonen finished P11 for Alfa Romeo, followed by Ricciardo in a heavily damaged McLaren. Schumacher and Giovinazzi completed the classified finishers. 



The results were provisional as Ocon got called to the stewards for not following the Race Director post-race procedure. The Frenchman had missed the pit entry and went down the start-finish straight again. He stopped his car at the end of the pit straight and ran back to Parc Ferme for the podium celebrations. Meanwhile, Vettel, who finished in P2, stopped on the track due to low fuel. Russell did likewise. 

 


Vettel, Bottas, Sainz and Stroll got called to the stewards for allegedly "not following the Race Director's instructions - the pre-race procedure". 

The quartet, along with Ocon, got reprimands for their mistakes. 



Celebrations broke out in the pit lane as the mechanics of Alpine and Aston Martin celebrated a famous podium. Alonso, also, was on Parc Ferme to celebrate Ocon's win. 



The stewards gave Bottas and Stroll a five-place grid drop ( each ) for the Belgian Grand Prix ( along with two penalty points each ) for their misdemeanours on the opening lap. 



The dust settled on the celebrations, and drama stuck an hour later. Vettel's Aston Martin didn't have the minimum quantity of fuel required ( one litre ) for post-race testing, and the team got summoned to the stewards. The FIA could extract only 0.3 litres, and due to this infringement, Vettel got disqualified from the race! Aston Martin believed that they had enough fuel onboard ( 1.44 litres to be precise ) for sampling and appealed against the decision.  



The appeal got rejected on Monday, and Vettel got excluded from the final classification. The exclusion meant that all drivers moved up a position, with Hamilton ending up in P2 and Sainz getting promoted to P3 and onto the podium.



Hamilton had a trying Sunday and, despite the tactical gaffe at the restart, recovered well to finish P3 and then inherited P2. The Briton now led the Driver Standings by 8 points, gaining momentum going into the summer break. It was not an easy drive as the reigning World Champion admitted that he was suffering from the effects of "Long Covid". Nevertheless, it was "advantage Hamilton" going into the second half of the season. A rookie error brought Bottas' race to a premature end, and unfortunately, the Finn wiped out both the Red Bulls and Norris. The mistake compromised his next race in Belgium, and Bottas faced a lot of scrutiny post-race. The likelihood of his contract getting renewed at Mercedes seemed bleak. Mercedes jumped Red Bull in the standings and now led their arch-rivals by 12 points. Team Principal Toto Wolff issued a public apology for the first lap collision caused by Bottas, which took out Perez and Norris and heavily damaged Verstappen's car. 



As for Red Bull, the team managed to score only five points from the last two races. Bottas was the culprit and Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal, wasn't pleased with the apology offered by Mercedes. Perez's engine suffered substantial damage, and the threat of incurring grid penalties due to new components became a concern. Verstappen was in a similar boat but salvaged a couple of points in a highly compromised car. The Dutchman had a Mercedes to blame again for his misfortune. The past two races saw his lead of 32 points turn into a deficit of eight. Verstappen & Co would now have to play catch-up due to no fault of their own. 



It was a bitter-sweet day for Ferrari. While Sainz secured P3 and his second podium with Ferrari in 2021, Leclerc, who would have challenged those ahead of him, got taken out by Stroll in the melee at turn one. The Monegasque cut a dejected figure as he clambered out of the car and into retirement on the opening lap. As for Sainz, the Spaniard struggled in the first half of the race and his decision to overturn Ferrari's strategy calls paid dividends. Sainz's P3 helped Ferrari get level with McLaren in the Constructor Standings. The battle for 3rd in the Constructors was well and truly on!



McLaren had a disastrous weekend. While Norris got taken out by Bottas, Ricciardo got hit by Leclerc on the opening lap. Both suffered damage, but for Norris, it was terminal. Norris was the only driver to have scored points in every race up until Hungary. The Briton was distraught as an opportunity for a win or possibly a podium went begging. Ricciardo was left fighting for scraps in the lower half of the field. The Australian cut a forlorn figure in 11th, his struggles in his new life at McLaren never-ending. As for Norris, the only silver lining from the weekend was that none of his immediate rivals scored any points. Bottas, Leclerc and Perez all suffered retirements, and it was status quo in the battle for P3 in the Driver Championship. McLaren's failure to score allowed Ferrari to get level in the fight for P3. The Woking-based outfit faced an uphill task for the second half of the season.



Ocon and Alpine hadn't put a foot wrong the entire race, placing his car in the right place and taking an opportunistic line at turn one, which kept him safe from all the incidents. The Frenchman displayed character and calmness in the face of unrelenting pressure from Vettel, taking an unlikely victory at one of the toughest races on the calendar. His calibre and talent came to the fore, but Ocon also had Alonso to thank. Alonso held up Hamilton for ten laps, which was enough to deny the Briton a shot at victory. Alonso got awarded the "The Driver of the Day".  The former double World Champion earned everyone's respect en route to a fine P4. The 37 points haul helped Alpine catapult themselves up into P5 in the Constructors' standings, nine points clear of Alpha Tauri. 



As for Aston Martin, the 18 points achieved by Vettel in 2nd got reversed after the rejection of the appeal. The team failed to add to their tally of points. Vettel had driven a great race nonetheless. The former World Champion tried hard to pressure Ocon for the win but came up short after several attempts. Stroll's mistake on the opening lap denied the team a strong result, and the Canadian's five-place grid drop complicated matters for Belgium. Aston Martin now trailed Alpha Tauri by 20 points in P7.



Despite scoring 19 points, Alpha Tauri lost out to Alpine but extended their lead to Aston Martin. Gasly was the stronger of the two drivers again, also bagging the point for the fastest lap and denying Hamilton the same at the end. Tsunoda kept it clean and recovered from the disappointment of Saturday. The Italian based team remain a strong contender in the midfield battle. 



It was a weekend to remember for the Williams F1 Team. Latifi and Russell made up several places after the opening lap melee. The duo displayed great racecraft and deserved to be in the top 10. Russell played the team game and offered Williams the chance to prioritize Latifi since the latter was running in the podium places for several laps. Nevertheless, P7 and P8 were more than the team could ask for on such an eventful weekend. Williams jumped Alfa Romeo into P8 and 7 points clear of their immediate rivals. 



As for Alfa Romeo, it was another weekend of "what could have been". Giovinazzi suffered from the penalty of speeding in the pit lane. Raikkonen got pulled up due to the "unsafe release" by Alfa Romeo, which lead to the coming together with Mazepin and the latter's retirement. Both drivers had the pace to perform better but got let down by poor decision making again. Raikkonen's promotion to P10 helped Alfa Romeo get one point. The team needed reforms over the summer break if they were to salvage their season. Surpassing Williams now became the priority.



Schumacher's talent and feistiness came to the fore in his battle with Russell and Verstappen. The German was briefly running in the points, and although he ended the race in P12, Haas seemed to have made improvements in their car. Mazepin's race got cut short after his incident with Raikkonen in the pits, so what he could have accomplished remained a mystery. 



The marathon 70 laps at the Hungarian GP produced a humdinger of a race. The title battle had turned on its head due to the unexpected results of the last two races. Mercedes and Hamilton were riding high from the success, while Red Bull and Verstappen had multiple factors to blame for their misfortune. The contenders had a month to assess and restrategize for the second half of the season. The duel would resume in the hills of the Ardennes at the iconic track of Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, the home of the Belgian GP.



Hungary gave the fans of the sport a New Grand Prix Winner in Esteban Ocon. Eight years had passed since Alpine F1, under the guise of Lotus F1, had last won a race with Kimi Raikkonen. The journey from thereon had been a challenging one. It was "Redemption Day" for Alpine F1 in Hungary.



The season ahead will have many more surprises in the title battle, and eventually, F1 would have a Champion. 


 

However, in Hungary, the glory belonged to Ocon, Alonso and Alpine F1!


Allez Les Bleus!

2020 Hungarian GP Race Recap : The King of the Ring Hungry for More!

The 2020 F1 season got underway with two back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. Mercedes reigned supreme over the two race weekends. The sport then made its way east, to the city of Budapest, home to Hungaroring, venue for the Hungarian GP which completed the first triple-header of the season.

Hungaroring, a high downforce, street-like circuit, has seen some memorable races in the past. This was one race that could close the gap between Mercedes and the chasing pack. Lewis Hamilton, a 7-time winner here, also called "the King of the Ring" hoped to reduce the 6 points deficit to the Championship Leader and his teammate Valtteri Bottas. 

The Racing Point cars still ran the "controversial" brake ducts that Renault had protested against while Ferrari hoped for a better outing after the fiasco in the previous race. 


Were Red Bull and Racing Point able to upset the mighty Mercs? Was Lewis able to become an 8-time race winner at Hungaroring and take the lead of the Championship or did Bottas have a say? Did Ferrari & Renault show signs of resurgence? Was McLaren able to maintain the momentum they had from the season openers? 

All shall be revealed in this race recap! 


Practice :

Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were the fastest in Free Practice 1. Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll were the only drivers within one second of their times. Renault got themselves up into the top 10 with Ricciardo in P6 and Ocon in P10 while Vettel and Leclerc set the 6th and the 7th fastest times respectively. It was a mixed session for Red Bull with Alex Albon down in P13 and Verstappen in P8. Both the cars struggled with balance issues and traffic on track. McLaren was in a similar situation with Norris in P9 and Sainz in P11. The Haas cars were P12 and P14  while Latifi outpaced his more experienced team-mate, George Russell to finish P15. Gasly didn't take part due to sensor issues on his car while Kubica replaced Raikkonen for this session. Williams was now on par with Alpha Tauri and Alfa Romeo.

Free Practice 2 was hit with inclement weather and few chose to drive in the wet. Gasly and Raikkonen used this session for acclimatization. Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets for Ferrari with Bottas hot on his heels. Charles Leclerc, in the other Ferrari, could only manage the 10th fastest time while Carlos Sainz Jr. went P3 for McLaren. The Racing Point cars were in the top 6 again. Drivers experimented with intermediate sets but struggled due to poor track conditions. Many ran wide due to lack of grip and the session finished with thirteen setting times, the Renault and Williams duo, Albon, Magnussen and Hamilton unable to do so. 

Free Practice 3 was a rain threatened session. The session was split into race and qualifying simulations by the teams. Bottas was fastest from Hamilton, Perez, Leclerc and Stroll who completed the top 5. Red Bull struggled with balance issues while Williams had a great run with Russell in P14. Racing Point seemed to be the real challenger going into qualifying. Ferrari was encouraged by their performance in the final practice session. Gasly reported engine trouble on his Alpha Tauri, warning signs for Honda. Haas and Alfa Romeo were the slowest of the lot, their chances for the weekend bleak. 



Qualifying :

Q1 got underway with a flurry of cars coming out of the pits as the rain clouds closed in. Soft tyres were the choice for all as a slight drizzle hit the track. Latifi, Raikkonen, Grosjean, Magnussen and Giovinazzi were in the elimination zone after the first run. Giovinazzi's lap-time was deleted for exceeding track limits at turn 4. The bottom 5 kept running through Q1 in their attempt to better their times. Track conditions improved as the clock ran down and the likes of Albon, Ocon, Gasly were under threat. Russell and Latifi jumped into the top 10! Meanwhile, Perez set the fastest time of Q1! Everyone drove out on a fresh set of soft tyres with less than 2 minutes on the clock. Verstappen was at risk in the final moments of Q1. The Dutchman improved to P8 while those in the drop zones failed to do better than the 15th placed Latifi. Magnussen, Kvyat, Grosjean, Giovinazzi and Raikkonen eliminated from Q1. It was a forgettable day for Alfa Romeo and Haas once again. Williams had both cars in Q2 after a gap of 4 years! Claire Williams was elated. The Racing Point cars were the fastest of the session with Hamilton hot on their heels. Sainz was under investigation for impeding Giovinazzi. Verstappen and Gasly complained about engine issues.

The lights went green for Q2 and Mercedes, Racing Point and Renault drivers chose the medium set of tyres for their first timed laps. Gasly was the last one to set a banker lap on a set of soft tyres. Leclerc, Russell, Albon, Ocon and Latifi were in the drop zone with 8 minutes left on the clock. Red Bull suspected damage on the front wing of Albon's car while Gasly's engine woes continued. Gasly was informed by the team that the issue couldn't be fixed in-session, much to his chagrin. Racing Point had a tense time with Stroll, who got called to the weigh-bridge for a random check. They had to wheel him into the garage to refuel and replace his tyres with less than 4 minutes left. Gasly gave up on his final attempt in Q2 due to an engine failure. The Frenchman would get a new engine for the race on Sunday. Racing Point again chose the medium set of tyres for their final run in Q2, a bold decision indeed! Everyone else was on the soft tyres. Albon made a couple of errors on his flying lap and couldn't better his time. He eventually qualified 13th behind Russell in the Williams! A bad day at the office for the Thai sensation. Ricciardo, Russell, Albon, Ocon and Latifi were the drivers eliminated. Gasly scraped through in 10th but wouldn't take further part due to the issue. Ferrari was relieved to have both cars in Q3 for the first time this year.  Advantage Mercedes and Racing Point - the quartet would start the race on the medium set of tyres ( from Q2 )!


Mercedes were a class apart in Q3 as they dialled up their engines. Lewis Hamilton set a new track record on his first run with Bottas three tenths behind. Perez exceeded track limits, his lap time deleted. Stroll was provisional P3 from Verstappen, Norris, Sainz, Vettel and Leclerc. The Ferraris were the first ones out to complete their final run (with 5 minutes left). Stroll followed shortly after. The trio improved and Ferraris locked out the third row on the grid, Stroll P3Perez, on his legitimate run, set the 4th fastest time; Racing Point 3rd and 4th! Hamilton went faster on his final run, beating his lap record set a few minutes earlier, a tenth clear of his team-mate Bottas in P2. Verstappen, Norris and Sainz couldn't improve on their final runs and would start 7th, 8th and 9th respectively. Another day of dominance for the Mercedes powered cars! The works team was in a league of its own with their favourite customer, best of the rest! Ferrari was the 3rd fastest team on the grid ( in qualifying at least ) while Red Bull had work to do overnight, sorting out balance and engine issues. There was the possibility of rain on race day as well, an exciting prospect on Sunday!



Race :

The heavens opened on Sunday. It would be a wet start to the race. There was drama before the race even began! A skid at turn 12 ( on his exploration lap ) sent Verstappen into the barriers damaging his front wing and possibly, the front suspension. The Red Bull mechanics wheeled him into his grid slot and began a thorough inspection. Others ran back and forth to gather tools and spares for the car. The front wing and the steering rod were some of the components replaced. The mechanics completed a 90-minute job in 15, kudos! 
Their troubles were compounded when the FIA initiated an investigation on the other car. The mechanics had allegedly used leaf blowers to dry the grid slot of Albon's carFIA F1 Technical Delegate Jo Bauer was witness to the act. The verdict would be given post-race. 

The formation lap got underway and barring Magnussen ( who was on wets ) everyone chose intermediate tyres. 
Haas F1 decided to pit both their drivers ( for slicks ) at the end of the formation lap. They believed the track was ready for dry tyres.
The others lined up for the race start.

It was a poor start for Bottas. He seemed to have jumped the lights, stopping momentarily before using the launch control again. Fortunately, ( for him ) the sensor didn't report this infringement. 
Hamilton led into turn 1 from Stroll. Verstappen went wheel-to-wheel with Vettel for P3 and got the position. Vettel and Leclerc were 4th and 5th, Bottas down to 6th! Perez, Sainz, Ricciardo and Latifi completed the top 10 at the end of lap 1. 
Norris had a bad start and was down in P14. Raikkonen was P15 but got served a 5 second time penalty for being in the wrong grid slot for the race start.

Kvyat pitted on lap 1 for a set of mediums. Bottas and Leclerc pitted on lap 3 for medium and soft tyres respectively. Albon overtook Latifi for P8 while Verstappen pressurized Stroll for P2. A slew of cars entered the pits ( on laps 4 and 5 ) for a switch to dry tyres. Vettel lost a lot of time in this melee. Sainz tangled with Latifi when his front wing clipped his left rear tyre at the pit exit. Latifi got spun around and suffered a puncture. It was an unsafe release by Williams and Latifi was awarded a time penalty of 5 seconds ( on lap 10 ). Magnussen and Grosjean jumped to P3 and P4 after the first round of pit stops! Leclerc, Kvyat, Gasly, Russell and Giovinazzi had chosen the soft tyres while the rest of the field the mediums. 

Perez ran wide and lost 2 positions to Vettel and Albon on lap 5. Verstappen set the fastest time on lap 6. DRS got enabled a lap later and Stroll overtook Grosjean for P4.  Bottas sparred with Leclerc ( lap 8 ) but was forced onto the wet section, his challenge fizzling out. Hamilton reclaimed the fastest lap from Verstappen. Bottas returned for round 2 and completed a clean pass on Leclerc on lap 10. He then overtook Grosjean on lap 12 for P5. Vettel made an error and ceded a place to Albon and Stroll pressurized Magnussen for P3. Hamilton extended his lead at the front. 

There was a prediction of a light shower on the radar. 
Albon started pressurizing Leclerc who was losing performance on the soft tyres. He attempted a couple of overtakes but was unsuccessful. This allowed Vettel to close in on the sparring duo. Meanwhile, Raikkonen passed Gasly for P14. Gasly limped into the pits on lap 16 and into retirement, his car emitting smoke. Stroll caught up to Magnussen and passed him on lap 16. Down the order, the battle for P7 raged on with Vettel joining the fray as well! Bottas demoted Magnussen to P5 on lap 17. Perez, Ricciardo and Sainz joined Albon & Vettel behind Leclerc. Albon was getting frustrated and requested for more engine power. It was job done on lap 18, the Haas duo up next. Vettel had to clear Leclerc who was struggling to prolong his stint.
Thankfully, Ferrari didn't stall his progress and the German overtook his team-mate with DRS on lap 19. Kvyat pitted for a set of hard tyres. Leclerc, now under pressure from Perez, defended his position and pitted on lap 21 for a new set of hard tyres. He rejoined in P15. Perez had clear air and started pulling away from Ricciardo and Sainz. Giovinazzi pitted for a set of medium tyres on lap 22. Light rain was predicted in 10 minutes. Hamilton was pushing and lapping backmarkers pretty quickly. Leclerc was one of them on lap 24.

Bottas was closing in on Stroll, Leclerc likewise with Norris. Sainz too maintained pressure on Ricciardo. Drivers complained about tyre wear and loss of grip but chose to continue ( with the threat of rain in the air ). Lap 29 saw two great battles unfold - Bottas vs Stroll and Leclerc vs Norris. Leclerc was wheel-to-wheel with Norris but unable to complete the move on the outside of turn 3. Albon overtook Grosjean on lap 30, the Frenchman coming under intense pressure from Vettel. Vettel, however, pitted at the end of the lap for a set of hard tyres and avoided the loss of time behind slower cars. He rejoined in P12, Raikkonen up to P11! 

Perez demoted Grosjean to P8 on lap 31 and Leclerc was having a titanic battle with Norris. The McLaren protege was immovable. Leclerc finally passed him on the next lap. Meanwhile, Vettel set the fastest lap of the race and Ricciardo made a move on Grosjean for P8.
There was a slew of pitstops again. Bottas pitted on lap 34 for another set of medium tyres and Raikkonen pitted from P12 for a set of hard tyres and rejoined in 17th. Albon pitted on lap 36 ( from 6th ) for hard tyres and rejoined in 10th. Stroll pitted for a set of medium tyres but lost third place to Bottas. Bottas' undercut strategy paid off. Verstappen and Hamilton pitted as well
( on laps 37 & 38 respectively ). Status quo maintained. 

Magnussen couldn't defend against Perez for P9 ( lap 40 ) and was falling into the hands of Leclerc. A switch to the hard tyres for Sainz on lap 41 put him out of the points scoring positions in P11. Yellow flags were deployed when Latifi had an offtrack excursion. He made it back to the pits and put on another set of fresh tyres.

The Haas cars were going backwards - Ricciardo overtook Magnussen ( lap 47 ) after his final pit stop while Grosjean lost two positions to Ocon and Norris in the space of two laps. Bottas switched to the hard tyres with another pit stop on lap 50, in the hope of "under-cutting" Verstappen. The Red Bull driver chose to continue on his worn set. Bottas had to reduce the 23-second deficit in the space of 20 laps for a P2 finish. There was another battle brewing, this time between would-be teammates, Leclerc and Sainz.
Bottas went about chasing Verstappen with a series of fastest laps and steadily reducing the gap. Stroll, meanwhile, pitted for a fresh set of boots on lap 53. Albon and Vettel were the next cars to be lapped by the leader Hamilton, only the top 4 remaining on the lead lap! 

Hamilton, Verstappen, Bottas, Stroll, Vettel, Albon, Perez, Ricciardo, Magnussen, Leclerc were the top 10 at the end of lap 58.
The battle for the final point intensified with Sainz challenging Leclerc on lap 60. The Ferrari driver held firm. He couldn't defend on the next lap though and ceded his place to the Spaniard. Mercedes asked Hamilton to pit on lap 63 but aborted it, the life of the soft tyres still being debated on the pit wall. He eventually did pit on lap 67 for a fresh set of soft tyres. Albon snatched back P5 from Vettel on the same lap. Bottas held onto the fastest lap with 3 laps remaining. He was within 2 seconds of Verstappen and catching him at a rate of knots. Hamilton reclaimed the point for the fastest lap ( on the penultimate and last laps )!
All eyes were on the battle for P2. Bottas was in DRS range of Verstappen on the final lap. Unfortunately, he was a lap too late.


Hamilton won the Hungarian GP for the 8th time! Verstappen had his Red Bull Mechanics to thank for his second place. Bottas came home in third. Stroll was P4, Albon P5 followed by Vettel, Perez, Ricciardo, Magnussen and Sainz
Leclerc, Kvyat, Ocon, Norris, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Giovinazzi, Russell and Latifi failed to finish in the points. Gasly was the sole retirement.

Post-race, the Haas F1 team got summoned for alleged breach of regulations on the formation lap with regards to driver aids. Both drivers were served a 10 second time penalty. The team made the call to pit ( not the drivers ), hence the penalty.
Grosjean was relegated to P16 and Magnussen to P10. Sainz & Raikkonen promoted to P9 & P15 respectively. 

Red Bull Racing and Albon weren't penalized for their alleged breach on the grid. The Stewards reviewed the video evidence and concluded that the team didn't attempt to alter the grip of the track surface.


Hamilton was a class apart this weekend. He had lapped every car up to P5, truly a drubbing. Bottas has relinquished his lead in the championship. Red Bull had a tough weekend but was able to salvage a P2 and a P5. Racing Point had another strong weekend. Vettel made the right calls and scored good points. His team-mate had another disappointing weekend, a poor strategy call to blame. McLaren hit a low after the highs of the opening races. Renault would be glad to see both cars finish a race and aim to score points with both cars. Williams did great on Saturday but faltered on Sunday. Alfa Romeo struggled on both days! It is disheartening to see a team struggle on tracks where they scored points a year earlier. Alpha Tauri would like to forget this weekend as quickly as possible.  

Silverstone, another power track, is next on the calendar. The next triple-header is less than a fortnight away, so teams need to address issues to recover lost ground. Mercedes might still have the upper hand. Time will tell.



Hamilton, the King of the Ring, won at Hungaroring for the 8th time! More records beckon, the hunger never dies!!