F1 may have moved onto a different track but it was the same old story in Hungary as Lewis Hamilton dominated once again. He took his 90th career pole, his 86th career victory and a new track record thrown in for good measure.
Such was Hamilton’s domination of the race, everyone up to Sebastian Vettel in sixth was lapped.
Nobody really came close to challenging the might of Mercedes. Yes, Max Verstappen did well to hold off Valtteri Bottas in the final stages of the race, but it could be hypothetically argued that it would have been a 1-2 finish for Mercedes, if not for Bottas’ botched start.
However, let’s not take anything away from Verstappen’s second place finish. For starters, his Red Bull mechanics should be applauded for their incredible efforts in making sure Verstappen’s car was ready to take the start after the Dutchman went into the barriers on his reconnaissance lap before the race.
A job that would normally take about an hour and a half to complete was done in just twenty minutes.
This comes at the end of three weeks of hard graft for all the mechanics up and down the grid. They have remained in their team bubbles for all that time, putting in long shifts day in, day out hundreds of miles away from home.
That’s the big talking point for me. The drivers may take the headlines but the work of those behind the scenes must never be forgotten.
A podium from Verstappen was the reward that Red Bull needed after an otherwise difficult weekend. Both Verstappen and his teammate Alexander Albon had setup issues through practice and qualifying but the race went much better for both drivers.
These inconsistencies in performance will be something that Red Bull will be looking to iron out before the British Grand Prix in just under a fortnight’s time.
Ferrari performed much better this weekend with both cars getting into Q3. While this could
just be the Ferrari being more suited to the high downforce characteristics of the Hungaroring, it’s still cause for optimism at the Scuderia.
But there are still cracks that mustn’t be papered over. Both Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc were lapped with Leclerc struggling with his tyres for most of the race. Vettel finished in sixth while Leclerc was just outside the points in eleventh.
There were plenty of good news stories in the midfield this weekend.
Racing Point have been showing flashes of brilliance all season and did so once again in qualifying, locking out the second row of the grid.
They even had enough pace to set their fastest laps in Q2 on the medium compound tyre. As the tyre you set your fastest lap in Q2 with is the one you start the race with, this would have given Racing Point a strategic advantage in the race, had it not been a wet start.
Racing Point will certainly be pleased with this as it will enable them to get an upper hand on their rivals who are unable to go as quick on the mediums and thus are forced to use the soft tyres, which will not last as long in the race as the mediums.
There was no podium for Racing Point with Lance Stroll being undercut by Valtteri Bottas. A fourth-place finish is still a great achievement for the Canadian though as well as being one of only five drivers to finish on the lead lap.
A team who did surprisingly well in this race was Haas.
They made a strategy call on the formation lap that would propel them into contention for points. At the end of the formation lap, Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean came into the pits to switch onto slick tyres.
Once everyone else had decided to do the same a few laps into the race, Magnussen was up in third place with Grosjean running in fourth.
Due to the poor race pace of the Haases, both drivers weren’t able to defend those positions against faster cars. However, Magnussen did score points, having been helped out by the battle between Leclerc and Carlos Sainz for tenth place.
After the race, both Haas drivers were awarded a ten-second time penalty because they had been told to pit over team radio on the formation lap, which isn’t allowed.
Fortunately, Magnussen had extended his advantage over eleventh-placed Leclerc enough that he was able to finish tenth, with Sainz being promoted to ninth.
While it’s only one point for Haas compared to what was originally two points, it’s still a
valuable point as it moves Haas ahead of Williams and into ninth place in the constructors’ championship.
With Williams continuing to struggle in terms of race pace, Magnussen’s tenth-place finish could prove to be crucial come the end of the season.
That said though, Williams did show great pace again in qualifying with both George Russell and Nicholas Latifi making it into Q2. It was the first time since the 2018 Italian Grand Prix that both Williams cars were in Q2.
It didn’t go as well for them in the race though with Russell losing ground and finishing in 18th and Latifi having an absolutely horrible race, finishing five laps down in 19th place.
Latifi had a five-second time penalty for an unsafe release which led to a left-rear puncture for the Canadian and spun twice. So not the best race he’s ever had but there are better days to come, I’m sure.
F1 now takes a week off and then we get ready to go again for another triple-header with two races at Silverstone on August 2 and August 9 and the Spanish Grand Prix on August 16.
Will the state of play change when F1 returns? Everyone who’s not a Mercedes fan will certainly
be hoping so.