5 things we learned from the Hungarian Grand Prix
Lewis Hamilton will head into Formula One’s summer break with a 62-point championship advantage after his victory in Hungary on Sunday.
The Mercedes driver overtook Red Bull’s Max Verstappen with three laps remaining to claim his eighth win from 12 rounds this year.
Here, PA looks at five things we learned from Sunday’s eventful race at the Hungaroring.
1. Hamilton shows why Verstappen’s still the apprentice
Formula One finally got the show it wanted in Hungary: Hamilton vs Verstappen. With former champion Nico Rosberg and Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, leading an emerging school of thought that Verstappen is the world’s best driver, Hamilton has been desperate to prove them wrong. There can be little doubt that Mercedes had the superior car on Sunday. Verstappen displayed all his brilliant skill, not only to put his Red Bull on pole, but to hold off Hamilton for much of the race, too. Yet, how many drivers could have performed how Hamilton did after his surprise second stop, eliminating a 21-second lead and then passing Verstappen for a famous victory with laps in his pocket? The answer is very few, if any. Verstappen has been the pound-for-pound performer this year, but for now at least, Hamilton remains the master.
2. Bottas’ future under the spotlight… again
Hamilton’s march to victory allowed him to move 62 points clear of Valtteri Bottas after the latter took the chequered flag in eighth. Bottas has impressed over one lap this season, beating Hamilton to second place on the grid. Yet his hard work in qualifying was undone following a sloppy start, tagging the rear of Hamilton’s car before damaging his front wing in a coming together with Charles Leclerc. Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff will now decide over the summer break whether to retain Bottas or promote reserve driver Esteban Ocon. After crashing out in Germany, an accident which provoked a furious reaction from Wolff, and his disappointing show in Budapest, Bottas has done little to help his cause, but Hamilton enjoys having the unassuming Finn as his team-mate and that will play a significant role in Wolff’s thought process.
3. Vettel admits he has not been good enough
Sebastian Vettel fought his way past Ferrari team-mate Leclerc in the closing stages to finish third, but the German was quick to acknowledge this has been a poor campaign. Asked to rate his season, Vettel, who is without a win in 12 months, gave himself a five. “I am not happy with the first half of the season, and I have struggled to get on top of the car,” he said. “I feel I can do a better job in the second half.” Ferrari were yards off the pace in Hungary, however. Vettel crossed the line an eye-watering minute behind Hamilton. He is 94 points adrift of the Briton in the championship, too.
4. Horner ups the ante on Gasly
Horner didn’t hold back in his assessment of Pierre Gasly’s sixth-place finish in Hungary. “We shouldn’t be racing Saubers and McLarens,” Horner said of the Frenchman, who finished a lap down on team-mate Verstappen. “We desperately need to see him realising more potential from the car.” Gasly is 118 points behind Verstappen and has just five more points than McLaren driver Carlos Sainz in the standings.
5. Sainz delivers for improving McLaren
One wonders if Red Bull regret allowing Sainz to leave their driver programme? The Spaniard, who raced alongside Verstappen at Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso, before he was sent to Renault and then allowed to join McLaren, has impressed in his maiden season for the rejuvenated British team. Sainz finished fifth in Hungary and has already scored more points (58) than Fernando Alonso managed in any of his final four years with McLaren.