Max Verstappen Wins, Ferrari Horror Show Continues. Key Takeaways

Hungarian Grand Prix: In a race which produced a five-way fight for the lead, replete with fascinating on-track battles as well as off-track strategic ones, Max Verstappen took his 28th career victory with a brilliant drive, after starting 10th. Lewis Hamilton was another driver who completed a remarkable comeback after starting the race from P7 on the grid, to finish second as his polesitter teammate made it another double podium for Mercedes to assume the final spot on the podium.

Here are key takeaways from the race in which Red Bull dealt another crushing blow to Ferrari, with the Scuderia drivers dropping down to P4 and P6 respectively…

Another Race, Another Ferrari Horror Show

After a disappointing display last time out in France, expectations from Ferrari were huge, consequently finishing P4 and P6 at a track well-suited to their car, is nothing short of calamitous. With the Bulls starting way down the gird, the onus was on Ferrari to ensure maximum points finish and break their rivals’ momentum heading into the summer break. However, the horrendous strategic display that ensued is definitely going to increase the pressure on Mattia Binotto as well as the others on the Ferrari pit wall.

What’s gotten everyone racking their brains is why the team would pit their race-leading car, onto a tire others were clearly struggling with, while he was himself comfortably managing his medium tire stint.

While the regulations mandate the use of at least two different tire compounds during a race, the more logical thing for Ferrari to do would have been to let Leclerc complete his stint on the mediums and then pit him for softs towards the end – something which clearly worked for Lewis Hamilton.

By switching Leclerc onto the less favourable hards, Ferrari not only cost him the 20-odd seconds lost during a pit stop but also turned him into a sitting duck for the others to pounce on.

The result – Leclerc is now a staggering eighty points behind Verstappen with Ferrari trailing Red Bull by ninety-seven, and barring a miraculous second-half recovery, it’s hard to see the championships heading towards Maranello.

A team of the stature of Ferrari, in the midst of a title fight, simply cannot afford to throw away such precious points and I’m sure there are going to be some difficult conversations at the post-race Ferrari team meeting.

Genuine Three-Way Fight To Come?

After a solid run of results in the past few races, with consecutive podiums for Lewis Hamilton in the last five, Mercedes is heavily breathing down the necks of Red Bull and Ferrari. For a team that was struggling massively to get on top of their porpoising issues and were close to a second off the pace in the initial stages of the season, their mid-season progress has certainly been remarkable.

George Russell’s pole, as well as Lewis Hamilton’s impressive race pace, were a testament to the team’s aggressive yet largely successful development path.

Further, Hamilton went on to add that if not for the DRS issues he suffered during qualifying, a front-row start, as well as the race victory, was quite possible.

Nevertheless, a first win of the year for the Brackley-based team might not be too far away and perhaps the mouthwatering prospect of more three-way fights awaits in the second half of the season.

A Legend Calls Time On His Illustrious Career

Just a week after stating his intent to continue in F1, Sebastian Vettel sent shockwaves through the paddock and the F1 community as he announced his departure from the sport at the end of the year.

Without outlining his plans for the future, the German announced his retirement through social media, citing his wish to devote a greater amount of time to his family.

One of the most successful drivers of all time, as well as a real hero off-the-track who has passionately voiced himself against matters of importance – his absence from the grid is sure to leave a huge void.

Aston Martin moved swiftly to announce the signing of double World Champion Fernando Alonso on a multi-year deal, as another statement of intent from Lawrence Stroll in his bid to take the team to the top.

“My best race is yet to come” – read Vettel’s statement and he will be determined to bow out on a high as the paddock and the fans prepare themselves to bid adieu to a true great of the sport.

That’s all for the first half of the season as the paddock heads into a four-week summer break to reset and recharge themselves for another intense round of racing to come.

The season resumes on August 26 at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, before completing a triple-header at Zandvoort and Monza in the following weekends.