Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Max Verstappen takes dominant victory at Hungaroring ahead of Norris, Pérez

The Hungarian Grand Prix saw Max Verstappen take his seventh consecutive victory, besting pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton with another dominant performance. Lando Norris and Sergio Pérez finished in second and third respectively, each running impressive races at the winding Hungaroring.

All eyes were on Hamilton and Verstappen on the front row, followed by McLaren F1 Team’s Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri, who have proven to be consistently quick since installing their recent upgrade to MCL60. Off the race start, Hamilton was overtaken by Verstappen and both McLarens, slipping back in the field. 

Meanwhile, an incident sparked by fifth-place starter Zhou Guanyu— who suffered a slow start off the line– saw several drivers disadvantaged and both BWT Alpine F1 Team drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon crashing out of the race. Daniel Ricciardo, also involved in the tangle, lost five positions as a result. 

Once the order was settled after an eventful first lap, it was Verstappen at the head of the pack followed by Piastri, who made a tactful move on the start to pass both his team-mate and Hamilton, and Norris. Hamilton, now in fourth, led both Ferrari drivers Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

Credit: McLaren Media Centre

With drivers starting on all three compounds, tyre strategy was a subject of interest in Hungary. The likes of Lance Stroll and Valtteri Bottas traded their soft tyres in on lap ten for hard tyres, which ended up being the favored compound. Sainz made the same move on lap sixteen, and the medium tyre runners came in soon after.

Norris, having pit just one lap earlier on lap eighteen, was able to undercut team-mate Piastri. Pérez was up into second place as all the softer-compound runners had already pitted by this point. From his starting position of ninth place, his strategy saw him come back into contention for a podium. George Russell, who was far out of position with a starting place of eighteenth, was in fifth– back into the points positions.

Every driver ran the two stop strategy, with the entire field pitting in the final third of the race. Pérez and Piastri both took to the pits on lap forty-three, with Piastri staying just ahead in net-third place. 

A battle unfolded between the Red Bull and the McLaren, which saw Piastri have to put up a solid defence. Pérez ultimately closed down on Piastri, and they fought wheel-to-wheel in what was one of the race’s most thrilling battles. Piastri, attempting to retake the position, came around the outside of turn two and dipped into the grass as Pérez hadn’t left ample space. Pérez was, however, able to secure the position, and with it his sixth podium of the season. Piastri would be caught by Hamilton in later laps, demoted once again to fifth. 

In the latter half of the points, Leclerc had been handed a five-second time penalty while running in sixth place ahead of team-mate Sainz. Sainz held station just outside the five-second margin, however, Russell had solid pace in the race’s closing stages and was able to overtake Sainz for seventh and get within the five-second margin to knock Leclerc back another position. 

In the final rush for the checkered flag, Pérez was rapidly closing in on Norris in second place. Norris, struggling to find his way through the backmarkers, was under pressure from the Red Bull, but ended up crossing the line about three seconds ahead– denying Red Bull a one-two result. 

Credit: McLaren Media Centre

Verstappen ran a quiet race, finishing over thirty seconds ahead of Norris in second. Pérez took third after making use of an alternative strategy, followed by Hamilton, who wasn’t quite able to convert pole to a podium result. Piastri was next across in fifth along ahead of Russell– who made a great comeback from eighteenth place– in sixth place after being promoted by Leclerc’s penalty. 

Scuderia Ferrari’s Leclerc and Sainz finished in seventh and eighth, and Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team’s Fernando Alonso and Stroll closed out the points positions after a quiet mid-field race for the team. 

Williams Racing and Haas F1 Team came away without points, as well as Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake, which had a disappointing Sunday after a tremendously successful Saturday that saw both Zhou and Bottas start in the top ten. On his return to the series, Scuderia AlphaTauri’s Ricciardo held onto his starting position of thirteenth through to the end, besting team-mate Yuki Tsunoda in fifteenth. Alpine had another weekend to forget, with a second consecutive double-retirement for the team. 

Up next comes the Belgian Grand Prix, the final race before Summer shutdown and another installment of the sprint format. With extra points on offer for Saturday’s sprint and just one practice available, it will be interesting to see which teams succeed and which will falter under the heightened pressure of the sprint format at the storied Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.

1 Max Verstappen RED BULL RACING RBPT 70 1:38:08.634 26
2 Lando Norris MCLAREN MERCEDES 70 +33.731s 18
3 Sergio Pérez RED BULL RACING RBPT 70 +37.603s 15
4 Lewis Hamilton MERCEDES 70 +39.134s 12
5 Oscar Piastri MCLAREN MERCEDES 70 +62.572s 10
6 George Russell MERCEDES 70 +65.825s 8
7 Charles Leclerc FERRARI 70 +70.317s 6
8 Carlos Sainz FERRARI 70 +71.073s 4
9 Fernando Alonso ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 70 +75.709s 2
10 Lance Stroll ASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES 69 +1 lap 1
11 Alex Albon WILLIAMS MERCEDES 69 +1 lap 0
12 Valtteri Bottas ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 69 +1 lap 0
13 Daniel Ricciardo ALPHATAURI RBPT 69 +1 lap 0
14 Nico Hülkenberg HAAS FERRARI 69 +1 lap 0
15 Yuki Tsunoda ALPHATAURI RBPT 69 +1 lap 0
16 Zhou Guanyu ALFA ROMEO FERRARI 69 +1 lap 0
17 Kevin Magnussen HAAS FERRARI 69 +1 lap 0
18 Logan Sargeant WILLIAMS MERCEDES 67 DNF 0