Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix 2019

F1 Hungarian Grand Prix 2019

The Hungarian Grand Prix brings the first half of the 2019 Formula 1 season to a close, and it was a forth good race on the trot. It was also the first race, in which, Max Verstappen started from pole position, proving that maybe, McLaren had jumped ship too soon, Honda really is coming to the fore working with Red Bull, not quite up there with Mercedes, but have leapfrogged Ferrari in recent races.

Verstappen, got off the start line well, unlike the previous race in Germany where he dropped back to 4th, to lead comfortably through the first few turns while the Mercedes duo of Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton squabbled over second place, with Hamilton winning the battle. Bottas fell back further being passed by the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc in the run between turns 3 and 4, with the Frenchman giving the Finn a clout on the way through, damaging Bottas’ front wing, forcing a lengthy stop on lap 6.

This unscheduled stop for Bottas put the Finn on the back foot, dropping back to last place after a 15 second stop. Bottas did battle back to 8th place, but another disappointing race for the Finnish driver. It’s an open secret that Bottas might find himself without a Mercedes seat if his form does not pick up. He started the season very well, but has dropped back from his teammate in the same machinery since the first four races. Bottas is now 62 points behind Hamilton and just seven points ahead of Verstappen.

By lap 3, Verstappen had a 2.1 second lead over Hamilton. The gap yo-yoed between 1.3 and 2 seconds until the Dutchman stopped for fresh tires on lap 26, switching to the hard tire, handing the lead to Hamilton, with Mercedes invoking HAMMER TIME in an effort to make the overcut work, but Hamilton was not fast enough on used tires to get the 20 second gap needed to stop and get back out in front of Verstappen. Hamilton eventually pitted on lap 32 for hard tires, yielding the lead back to Verstappen.

After Hamilton’s switch to a set of hard tires, the Briton was flying, to soon be in DRS range, and by lap 39, he was in a position to attack Verstappen for the lead of the race. Hamilton attempted to overtake around the outside of turn 1 as the dueling leaders lapped Ricciardo, battling through turns 2 and 3, culminating in Hamilton carrying too much speed into turn 4 going wide, dropping 2 seconds behind over the next few laps, seemingly having used the best of his tires, giving Verstappen some breathing room.

On lap 49, Mercedes made an inspired strategy call to pit Hamilton a second time for a set of medium tires, while Verstappen stayed on track with 23 lap old tires. The Briton was suddenly pumping in fast lap after fast lap, closing in on Verstappen by 1/2 second to 1 1/2 seconds per lap, to be in the position of overtaking the Dutchman on lap 67, which was an easy pass for Hamilton as Verstappen’s hard tires were ‘dead’. Red Bull, then immediately pitted Verstappen for new soft tires, chasing a point for fastest lap.

The question is; did Red Bull cost Max Verstappen the win by keeping him out? Yes, I understand that if Verstappen stopped a second time, he would have dropped behind Hamilton anyway, but on fresh tires, the Dutchman would have had a chance to chase down and maybe pass the Englishman. We know what Max can do on a set of soft tires in the closing laps of a race, I feel it would have been the better option, rather than asking the hard tire to do more than 40 laps and still have enough life to stay ahead.

Ferrari finished the race in a distant third and fourth places, with team leader Sebastian Vettel overtaking his young team mate Leclerc for the final podium spot on lap 68. Another disappointing race for Ferrari, falling behind Red Bull. At the half way point of the season, Ferrari are all but out off the championship hunt, Max Verstappen and Red Bull are looking like Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton’s challengers for the World Drivers Championship title. Ferrari, where world champions go to die, it seems, ask Alonso.

Hungarian Grand Prix 2019 Results

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:35:03.796
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) +17.796s
3. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) +61.433s
4. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) +65.250s
5. Carlos Sainz  (McLaren) +1 LAP
6. Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) +1 LAP
7. Kimi Räikkönen (Alfa Romeo) +1 LAP
8. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) +1 LAP
9.  Lando Norris (McLaren) +1 LAP
10. Alexander Albon (Toro Rosso) +1 LAP

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