F1 – Hungarian GP – Race
Szia, MiniFans! Once again, the sun was pretty much once again hiding away behind clouds, but this time, the weather forecast did predict at least some light rain that was quickly making its way towards the circuit. Despite the warnings, slicks were the norm on the grid, with mediums being more prominent than softs.
Russell didn’t let the nerves of starting from pole for the first time get the best of him, But both Ferrari, who were using mediums, weren’t losing too much time to the Mercedes, on softs. Before the first lap was even over, the virtual safety car was deployed. It was just a brief interruption to pick up a bit of debris from the track, and the race was restarted before drivers could even blink.
Eyes were focused on Russell, who kept his first place, but also on the Red Bulls, who had started from 10th and 11th and were slowly making their way up, until they reached Hamilton. Softs seemed to start losing some of their pace advantage, and Sainz had made his way to the DRS zone of the Mercedes when he was called to pits to try an undercut, but didn’t once he saw Russell went in, who had a slow stop. The Brit came out side to side with Alonso, who didn’t make it easy in the first corners, but once the tyres warmed up, there wasn’t much the Spaniard could do.
Sainz would pit not too long after, with a not too great stop, and would eventually lose his place to his teammate, who pitted later than him. Leclerc reached Russell and didn’t back down from a fight, with tyres slightly younger, trying to force Russell into a mistake. The battle was hard but fair, with neither stepping down yet still being fair with their rival.
Further back, Ricciardo prevailed over both Alpine, who seemed to be in a fratricidal fight between themselves. At the front, Leclerc finally managed to overtake Russell in an incredible move, and pulled a couple of seconds away, while his teammate started getting closer to Russell, quickly reaching his rear wing.
The radar started to show more rain around the circuit, but it didn’t seem as if it would arrive, unlike Verstappen, who was also making his way to Sainz, little by little. Once he was close enough, Red Bull called Verstappen in for mediums, a strategy copied by Mercedes. Both of them could use mediums, but Ferrari’s choices were between the hards and the softs.
The Italians decided to take a risk and chose the hards for Leclerc, while Sainz remained out. All of this benefited Red Bull, but the happiness was a bit short lived. Verstappen spun, although he didn’t mess his tyres up, and both Ferraris and Hamilton overtook him, but Pérez behaved like a true second driver and he protected the Dutchman from Russell, sacrificing his track position before he was called into the pits once again.
As if that wasn’t enough, some reports of very light rain started to come over radios. Sainz was called into pits and he was given softs for the remaining laps, but a bad stop meant he lost a handful of seconds to Russell and came out way behind the Brit. The Mercedes driver had reached Leclerc, but the Monegasque was doing his best to keep him behind, even if only to try and help Sainz reach him.
In what seemed a stupid strategy call to avoid team orders and maybe ensure they’d get the fastest lap, while also running away from losing the same places (or even more) on hards, Ferrari called Leclerc in to give him a set of softs, while Sainz started to have minimal problems with his own. In a show of race intelligence, Sainz asked for information on Russell’s tyres, and Ferrari complied with his request.
Sainz’s tries weren’t enough, and Hamilton eventually went past, with fresher tyres and a faster pace than the Ferrari. Meanwhile, at the front, Verstappen was still leading comfortably, as Russell was almost ten seconds behind. A couple raindrops were apparent on visors, but it wasn’t enough to wet the track, and the few laps that were left to the end didn’t fix Ferrari’s problems nor did they stop Verstappen. A very late virtual safety car slowed things down, but didn’t mess positions up, and neither did the drops that fell in the last moments.
Rain clouds were looming over the circuit, and the surrounding area of the track did get rained on but save for a few drops and a couple radio messages telling drivers to get ready, as it would soon arrive, it only did so in the last lap. However, it wasn’t necessary for the race to be shaken up, as tyres and Ferrari’s strategy did that well enough on their own. The winner was one no one expected unless major things happened, but Verstappen isn’t the kind of driver you can simply forget out.