The Hungarian Grand Prix was a thrilling and action-packed race that demonstrated peak F1 performances. The fight between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton was closer than ever and fans were looking forward to seeing the culmination of the battle on Hungarian soil before the sport takes a break over the rest of the summer period.
Despite much anticipation, the race lacked any close battles between the two championship contenders. However, it did boast wet conditions, early drama, and good old-fashioned wheel to wheel fights – all the makings of an exceptional contest.
The race seemed to draw to a halt before it could really get underway following a collision at Turn One just after lights out. The weather conditions did not favour Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes, as he crashed into the back of the McLaren of Lando Norris. What unfolded resembled a million-dollar bowling game.
Bottas’ misjudgement in his braking point resulted in a long casualty list, one that included championship contender Max Verstappen. Following the red flag, the restart proved to be most peculiar. With the rest of the grid opting to start from the pits after changing tires to suit the drying conditions, Hamilton was left as the sole driver starting on the grid.
Initially, this looked to be a decision that would favour the Briton and it seemed that this race would turn out to be one where he would cruise to another victory. However, this was not the case, as Hamilton dealt with fluctuating fortunes throughout.
His race first took a turn for the worst when he was called into the pits only a lap into the restart – resulting in him going from leading the pack to trailing behind it. This drastic change in circumstances for Hamilton didn’t discourage him from fighting for a podium finish. He fought his way through the pack methodically and overtook his competitors with an ease that you would expect a seven-time world champion to possess.
However, a fantastic defence by Fernando Alonso cost Hamilton a potential win. The Spaniard put on a defensive masterclass by keeping Hamilton behind him, for a good portion of the race, in a much less competitive car – his skill a sure testament to his years of experience in the sport.
Although Hamilton eventually got past, Alonso’s heroics prevented the Mercedes from having enough time to overtake anyone else. This helped secure a maiden race win for fellow Alpine driver, Esteban Ocon. The Frenchman lead for the majority of the race while simultaneously fending off the constant threat of Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin.
Ocon’s triumph was an unexpected but welcome addition to the long list of F1 race winners. Vettel finished second but was later disqualified on account of a fuel irregularity.
The Hungarian Grand Prix highlighted the talent of the paddock’s underdogs, as teams and drivers, who are often overlooked, got a taste of success. Both Williams drivers picked up their first points for the team, a momentous result for a team that has had a challenging couple of years.
Though fans did not get a taste of a wheel-to-wheel championship battle on track, the race certainly did not disappoint. Despite not getting the win they wanted, Mercedes collected valuable points to push themselves ahead of Red Bull in the constructor standings. Hamilton has pulled ahead of Verstappen by eight points to lead the championship going into the break.
This is shaping up to be a battle for the ages and only time will tell who will end up on top.
Image: Renault Sport via Creative Commons