The 13th round of the 2022 F1 season took place near Budapest. We outline the race in our report F1 Review Hungary 2022.
The Hungaroring, near Budapest has been the site of the Hungarian Grand Prix for many years. This weekend past was the 37th Hungarian Formula Grand Prix. The nature of the track is similar to that of a street circuit. In fact, it has the second lowest average speed of any track on the calendar, only the tight confines of Monaco are slower.
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With the tight nature of the layout, and just a single long straight, there is a strong emphasis on qualifying. Odds were that the current leaders of the table, Red Bull Racing and Ferrari, would dominate the Saturday afternoon session. However, it was a shock maiden pole position for Mercedes driver George Russell. The Brit set a stonking lap time that relegated the Ferrari pair of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc to second and third.
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Threat of Rain
Sunday dawned cool and cloudy with an imminent threat of rain in the air. This left teams second-guessing their tyre strategies up until the final moment. At the get away it was Russell who cleared off from the chasing pack thanks to the soft tyres fitted to his steed.
A short stint of the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) halted racing for a spell to clear debris from a first-lap incident. After that Russell pulled away from the chasing Ferraris. Meanwhile there was plenty of jockeying for position in the opening laps. His teammate Lewis Hamilton jumped from seventh to fifth.
Russell paid the penalty for using the soft tyres as they started to go off. The Ferraris, which started on the mediums, seemed to have the measure of the slowing Mercedes. Charles Leclerc grabbed the lead from Russell at one-third race distance. Leclerc outbraked his rival around outside of Turn 1. But there were several strategies at play across the front-running teams. This meant that drivers were fast at different phases of the race.
Ferrari came off worst from the rounds of pit stops. The biggest gainer of the fast cars was titleholder Max Verstappen. The Red Bull driver, who started 10th, was on a charge and sliced his way through the field. Not even a 360 degree spin could slow the pace of the dominant machine.
Verstappen’s spin notwithstanding, he repassed the ailing Leclerc, who was, in turn, passed by Russell in the final stages of the race. Hamilton was also making fast progress through the field. The seven-time world champion had an extended middle stint, which meant he was in soft rubber in the final stages of the race.
Hamilton passed his teammate and was reeling in Verstappen as well. Another VSC period, caused by Valtteri Bottas’ stricken Alfa Romeo, incidentally the only retirement of the race, took the sting out of the final stages of the race. When the flag fell it was Verstappen, Hamilton and Russell who claimed the podium spots. It was the same trio who occupied the podium at the previous round in France.
Despite having strong racecars the Ferraris of Carlos Sainz finished fourth with Leclerc relegated to sixth after a late pit stop. Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez had an uneventful race to finish fifth. McLaren’s Lando Norris, Alpine drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, along with Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel claimed the remaining points places, respectively.
Verstappen’s victory, and the floundering Ferraris have given the Dutch driver and his team commanding leads in both title chases. Red Bull has a 97-point lead over Ferrari. Verstappen has an 80-point lead in the drivers’ standings. The 2022 season takes a break for a few weeks. Action will resume at the Belgian Grand Prix on August 28.