After each Grand Prix, Nextgen-Auto.com invites you to find the tops and flops identified by the editorial staff. Who deserves applause? Who, on the contrary, is to be criticized? Finally, what are the question marks or ambiguity, which should be followed with interest in the next Grands Prix? Check it out below!
Top n°1: Verstappen overcomes two problems and a spin
After a tough Friday, Max Verstappen seems to have found enough rhythm to challenge for pole position, or at least a front row start at the Hungarian Grand Prix. But a mechanical problem came to stop the engine that is the RB18 during Q3, preventing the Dutchman from setting a time. With tenth place at the start, on the twisty Hungaroring, the case seemed settled, and Verstappen was about to save the furniture.
But it was underestimated by the reigning world champion, who immediately started his comeback. Eighth on the first lap, he dropped the Alpines before the seventh lap, then took advantage of Lando Norris’ difficulties to gain space. The clutch problem concerned his start of the race, where he had to drive in conservation mode in his Red Bull.
He moved up to fourth thanks to the pit stops. A perfect strategy by Red Bull, led by Hannah Schmitz, allowed Verstappen to lead on lap 50 and never let go. This is the first time he has won by starting from the top 4, and the second time that Red Bull has won from tenth place.
Top n°2: Mercedes F1 and George Russell on pole
With Verstappen’s problem in qualifying, pole position seems to have to be played between the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. But when both drivers completed their final qualifying lap, George Russell came to steal the show, thus signing his first career pole position, and the first for Mercedes this season. Without a DRS problem in his car, Lewis Hamilton could have allowed his team to monopolize the front row.
The next day, Russell and Hamilton suffered from the law of Max Verstappen, but the seven-time world champion satisfied the public at the Hungaroring with an impressive final move. Unstoppable against his teammate, Hamilton went into second place, allowing Mercedes to sign a double podium for the second race in a row. Enough to ensure before the summer break that the Brackley team is back in the game.
top no. 3: Lando Norris ‘best of the rest’ is indisputable
Fourth in qualifying, seventh in race: Lando Norris soars atop the peloton this weekend in Hungary. Of course, the top teams are in a different league from him, as evidenced by the 62 seconds that separated him from sixth place at the end of the race. And unfortunately, that was what the Briton was focused on after the race.
But in fact, his weekend was very positive. Despite a poor start to the race, after qualifying on the second row with Leclerc, Norris was one of the few riders to run on hard tires late in the race. His strategy paid off despite the use of all three compounds (softs / medium / hards), and Norris showed once again that he was the key element that allowed McLaren to aim for fourth place.
Flop n°1: The Ferrari fell to the carpet
Saturday night, Ferrari has the cards in hand to make an excellent operation in the championship. True, George Russell is a grain of sand in a well-oiled machine, which has largely dominated both sessions on Friday, but the race promises to be idyllic for the Scuderia. In fact, the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Pérez started 10th and 11th, far behind the second and third place holders in Maranello.
Sainz remained ahead of Leclerc in the first stint, despite the clearly better pace of the Monegasque. Seeing that the medium rubbers of the two drivers worked well, Ferrari decided to repeat a stint on yellowwall tires, before seeing what would happen at the end of the race. This is the first big mistake.
When Leclerc passed Sainz thanks to the overcut, the Monegasque had the chance to lead for about fifteen laps in total. Ferrari was afraid that Verstappen was not faster than its driver on medium rubber, the Scuderia did not dare to leave him on these tires to put on soft tires at the end of the race, and installed hard tires to him. A disastrous decision that imposed a third stop on Leclerc.
Second and third at the start against the out-of-this-world Red Bulls, the Scuderia finished fourth with Sainz and sixth with Leclerc. A zero point above all strategic, even if the F1-75 is disappointing in the course of the race. Mattia Binotto focused his communication on the performance of the single-seater after the race, but no one could miss the big tactical error on the pit wall.
Flop n ° 2: AlphaTauri, nothing is right
The evolution brought to France by the AT03, the first since the beginning of the season, is to change everything. The balance sheet after two races turned out to be a disappointment. In qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda were eliminated in Q1. The Frenchman saw one of his times erased, but that shouldn’t hide the poor level of the Italian single-seater, as Tsunoda was 16th.
In the race, it was a disaster for Tsunoda, who finished in the last two laps, while Gasly came out of the points to complete the race in an anonymous 12th place. The package that the Frenchman was desperately waiting for has arrived, and the results have not been obtained for the small Scuderia, which has not scored any points since Baku. The alert sent by Pierre Gasly to France seems more topical than ever.
Flop n°3: Daniel Ricciardo, we almost believe it…
Until Q2, Daniel Ricciardo was level with Lando Norris. The Australian seemed to be in touch with his teammate, driving an advanced McLaren MCL36 that he managed to tame in the rain. But while the Briton improved by three tenths between Q2 and Q3, the Australian went the opposite way, losing more than half a second to his team-mate.
The next day, between an average run and a disastrous strategy, with tires not working for him, Ricciardo went through hell and finished the race in 15th place. The highlight of the show, he failed to turn when Lance Stroll overtook him in the second corner after his pit stop and hit the Canadian, earning a five-second penalty.
We want to see…
Nicholas Latifi, one step away from success?
Saturday could be an unusual day for Nicholas Latifi. Already in the morning, he was able to climb to the top of the time sheet for Free Practice 3, to the point of arousing the disbelief of some of his rivals, who saw Williams in the top 3 in the rain. In Q1 he broke the absolute circuit record when he made a mistake in the last corner.
Lost and still well at the end of the grid, he had an unknown race the next day. If the final result of the weekend is disappointing, especially compared to the points obtained last year, we can think about one of these flashes that can be made in Canada when it rains, and especially in this circuit .
Haas F1, what potential for advanced VF-22?
Kevin Magnussen rode this weekend for the first time with the new version of the Haas VF-22. This one has new sidepods, as well as other new features, and Haas hopes to squeeze some performance out of it. Unfortunately, the Dane was eliminated in Q2, as was his teammate Mick Schumacher, who had earlier details.
In the race, Magnussen was unable to ride an interesting strategy because of the stop at the start of the race, after a contact. Also, it’s hard to see what these new features will bring, although the team is optimistic about the performance potential that can be derived from them. A potential we hope to see more of in Spa.