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2022 Formula 1 in Hungary results: Max Verstappen puts in masterful drive to win Hungarian Grand Prix

Max Verstappen regained momentum in his chase for a second world championship, driving from mid-pack at the Hungaroring to the front through a combination of strategy and brilliant driving on Sunday. This was a really heady drive by Verstappen, who started in 10th due to a power unit change, as the defending world champion was asked to make his way to the front on a notoriously difficult-to-pass-on Hungaroring track that is tight and slippery.

“Very tricky conditions out there,” said Verstappen, who late in the race spun after chasing Charles Leclerc down for third, saw the Ferrari pass him, then just caught up and passed him again. “I was battling a lot of guys. It was a crazy race.”

It looked a bit easy near the end until a few rain drops and a hard-charging Lewis Hamilton tried to change the storyline. But there simply wasn’t quite enough race left for Hamilton to get it done, and Mercedes had to settle for a 2-3 finish with pole-sitter George Russell claiming the final podium spot.

“I honestly don’t know that came from,” Hamilton said. “I got a bit more comfortable with the balance as the race went on. The other guys still have an edge but we are clearly closing the gap. … Maybe if the DRS is working during the qualifying, we are in a better position and in contention for a win.”

Verstappen also had a bit of help from Ferrari and their strategy calls once again.

Early on, the Scuderia pulled in Carlos Sainz Jr. on medium tires well before they were going off in order to then let Leclerc pit later and allow the latter to come out in front.

This put Leclerc on a different pit strategy, as he wasn’t able to make the mediums last long enough, and for his second pit stop he had to take on the hard compounds to satisfy the requirement to run two different compounds in the race.

The hard tires had not come to come up to temperature through practices on Friday and Saturday, and Sunday it was no different. With no grip, Leclerc just wasn’t able to carry the pace at the front and was left to wonder what could have been.

Sainz held on to finish fourth and Leclerc sixth, with the Red Bull Racing car of Sergio Perez between them.

Official finishing order

  1. Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
  2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
  3. George Russell, Mercedes
  4. Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari
  5. Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing
  6. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
  7. Lando NorrisMcLaren
  8. Fernando Alonso, Alpine
  9. Esteban Ocon, Alpine
  10. Sebastian VettelAston Martin
  11. Lance StrollAston Martin
  12. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri
  13. Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo
  14. Mick SchumacherHaas
  15. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
  16. Kevin MagnussenHaas
  17. Alexander AlbonWilliams
  18. Nicholas Latifi, Williams
  19. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
  20. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo

What we learned

Ferrari have a fast car. Not only do they have a fast car, they have a car that can win the championship. This much was on display with Charles Leclerc, who dominated much of the first half of the race and was the fastest car out there on medium tires.

But they can’t seem to get out of their own way at times and often overthink things. There is an old saying that goes something along the lines of, “Just run your own race.” This was what Mercedes did, and it resulted in another double-podium for them. This is pretty much what Red Bull Racing did, and Max Verstappen ended up winning after starting 10th.

Ferrari seemed to get out of sorts when Red Bull pitted Verstappen early and started shifting their strategy around so that Leclerc would be covering one aspect and Carlos Sainz Jr. another. And it just didn’t work out. Pitting Sainz early on the mediums made it look like his tires were degrading quicker, but then Leclerc stayed out. Had the tires been the case, Leclerc would’ve or should’ve pitted shortly after Sainz. It looked more like they were reacting to Red Bull’s move and also trying to avoid team orders and have Sainz move over for the clearly faster Leclerc by pitting them on radically different strategies.

All well and good if Leclerc can make his medium tires last longer than he did. When they did call him into pit, they put him back out on medium tires again. That meant that, due to the rules, he would have to make one more stop to change compounds to satisfy the need to run two different compounds in the race, as he started on mediums. Leclerc then hung on as long as he could until he made his second stop, where they put on the hard compound tires because there was too much race left for the softs. Practices on Friday and Saturday showed that the hard compound tires just weren’t able to come up to temperature. If that wasn’t evidence enough, Alpine and Haas tried to get their drivers one a one-stop strategy by switching to the hards on their first stops, and they had to pit them again for mediums or softs.

Leclerc may have been at fault at the French Grand Prix, but the strategy calls at the Hungarian Grand Prix are not on his shoulders. They fortunately have until the Belgian Grand on August 28 to review and address the situation.

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