#1090 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

2022-12-13 23:00

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#2023, Fulvio Conti, Nicoletta Zuppardo, Nicole Masi, Nicola Carriero, Maria Cira Vitiello,

#1090 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

For the eleventh round of the 2023 Formula 1 championship the circus remains in Europe, precisely in Hungary. After the British Grand Prix, where Max


For the eleventh round of the 2023 Formula 1 championship the circus remains in Europe, precisely in Hungary. After the British Grand Prix, where Max Verstappen has continued his domination with his fortieth career victory, finishing ahead of Lando Norris on McLaren and Lewis Hamilton on Mercedes and obtaining the eighth hat career tricks (pole position, fastest lap and victory), the ten teams return for the weekend 21-23 July in Budapest for the Formula 1 Qatar Airways Hungarian Grand Prix 2023 . The Hungarian Grand Prix is the penultimate before the summer break. The circuit where it will be held is the Hungaroring, one of the longest-running tracks in the history of the F1 calendar. The fact that the Grand Prix is usually held in the middle of summer favors the turnout of the public but not the spectacle, as there is always scorching heat. The only exceptions, from 1986 to today, are the 2006, 2011, 2014, 2020 and 2021 editions, characterized by uncertain weather, with rain at times and variable track conditions. The Hungarian Grand Prix represents the eleventh round of the season, two weeks after the British Grand Prix, the tenth race of the World Championship. On the eve of the race, the contract for the inclusion of the race in the world calendar, again on the Hungaroring circuit, is renew until the 2032 season, extending the agreement already signed in June of the 2020 season by another five years. If the historic Grands Prix, in particular those of Belgium and Italy, are still threatened by multiple non-European projects, if the stages in France and Germany now belong to the past, the Hungarian GP instead has a guaranteed place in the calendar until 2032. His contract was just extended by Formula 1 in exchange for infrastructure upgrades. A new pit building and a renovated main grandstand are expected to be built by 2026. The Hungaroring is certainly not the most exciting track on the calendar, but it enjoys great popularity. 


Sponsor of the Grand Prix for this edition is, for the first time, the Qatari national airline Qatar Airways. This edition is attended by 303.000 spectators during the race weekend, which represents the absolute record for the Grand Prix. In these races, including this event and the other the Italian Grand Prix scheduled for September, the use of tires in qualifying will be hard in Q1, medium in Q2 and soft in Q3, in dry weather. Initially one of the two races chosen was the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, before its cancellation due to the severe bad weather that had struck. Starting from this Grand Prix, Red Bull’s reserve driver Daniel Ricciardo takes the place of Nyck De Vries at AlphaTauri, due to the unconvincing results obtained by the latter in the first ten races of this World Championship. Nyck de Vries' days at AlphaTauri seemed numbered. The former Formula 2 and Formula Electric champion, decidedly too slow compared to his young teammate Yuki Tsunoda, was unable to manage an admittedly difficult to manage the AT04. De Vries had been hired by Helmut Marko and Franz Tost at the request of Max Verstappen, after the splendid freelance achieved last year with Williams in Monza. He then surprised everyone by taking ninth place at the wheel of a car that was almost unknown to him. But this choice did not have the consent of Christian Horner who would have preferred to hire Mick Schumacher. On Tuesday 11th July, Helmut Marko telephoned de Vries to announce his dismissal with immediate effect. Later on the same day, Red Bull and AlphaTauri announced that the Dutchman would have been replaced by Daniel Ricciardo starting from the Hungarian GP. As often happens, the media talk about the brutality of Helmut Marko, as Nyck de Vries joins the long list of drivers (Scott Speed, Sébastien Bourdais , Daniil Kvyat...) unceremoniously fired by the terrible Austrian man. However, he explains that de Vries was already an experienced pilot and the expectations of him were therefore very high:


"We signed Nyck because he had a very good performance in Monza last year. We expected him to be at least as strong as Yuki Tsunoda , but that wasn't the case. It was even three tenths slower. He is 28 years old and has a lot of experience, as well as a lot of knowledge as a test driver, and I don't think he can be compared to a rookie. At the end of April in Baku, he started the weekend well and I thought he would gain momentum, but he crashed again. Unfortunately, it never had a stellar ride. Why should we wait to replace it if there is no improvement? Nyck is a good guy, but the speed just wasn't there".


Christian Horner is even more severe and confirms that de Vries was chosen by default as Pierre Gasly 's successor at Scuderia AlphaTauri:


"Nyck is not a young driver in the strict sense. And I didn't see how he would fit into the junior program. It was just a palliative. He was already a very experienced rider, so our expectations of him were high and he didn't meet them".


At 34 years old, and after seven months, Daniel Ricciardo returns to the wheel of a Formula 1 car. His goal is very simple: to do better than de Vries and bring back some points so that AlphaTauri avoids tenth and final place in the Constructors' World Championship. If he proves up to the task, he can be promoted by Red Bull Racing to replace a struggling Sergio Pérez. Ricciardo talks about his return:


"I'm stocked to be back. As always with the Red Bull family, you have to be ready for a call and when it came I jumped at the opportunity. The transition to AlphaTauri has gone smoothly. Last week, I was back in Faenza, the factory has changed a lot since I last raced for the team a decade ago, but there were still plenty of familiar faces and I felt at home as we prepare for the upcoming race. When I drove the Red Bull into the tire test at Silverstone last week it all felt very normal. The AlphaTauri car will be what it is. I'm going to drive it and work from there. I don't want to have too many preconceived ideas about it. I think if it's a car that feels balanced, that's something I can work with. It's going to be a challenge, to jump in and just hit the ground running, but I'm excited about it. I'm looking forward to also developing the car and using my experience, and ultimately, I think, for Budapest, just go out and have fun, try and use more right foot than left and have a good time! The key to this track is getting into a rhythm - you put so many corners together - and if the car is balanced, you can really have some fun".


Monday, July 10, 2023, Alpine announce the promotion of Bruno Famin to the position of vice president of Alpine Motorsports. The engineer will lead all activities of the group in all motorsport disciplines, including Formula 1, and will continue to manage the engine division. Famin will report exclusively to CEO Laurent Rossi. At a hierarchical level he is above the team principal Otmar Szafnauer. Furthermore, the former technical director of Ferrari, Philippe Krief , takes over Laurent Rossi as CEO. Krief he continues to carry out his duties as vice president for the brand, awaiting the arrival of his successor. As a member of Groupe Renault, he will report directly to Luca de Meo, CEO of the group. Here Red Bull Racing can beat a thirty-five year old record, that of the number of consecutive victories for a manufacturer, now held by McLaren-Honda, which won the first eleven Grands Prix of the 1988 season with the formidable duo formed by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. The Austro-British team is in fact unbeaten since the 2022 Abu Dhabi GP, eleven races, and has every chance of winning on Hungarian soil. Max Verstappen, for his part, is aiming for a seventh consecutive victory which would bring him closer to the series, Sebastian Vettel's point of reference (nine consecutive victories in 2013). For this Grand Prix, Pirelli, the sole tire supplier, offers the choice between C3, C4 and C5 compound tyres, the softest type of compounds that characterize the entire range made available by the company supplying the tires for the championship. It is the first edition of the Hungarian Grand Prix in which Pirelli establishes this type of tyre. It is set for the sixth time this season, and for the first time since the Austrian Grand Prix . Before the previous British Grand Prix, Pirelli also names the compounds for the subsequent Belgian Grand Prix. Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, describes the track and its technical characteristics: 


"The Hungarian Grand Prix has become a classic event of the Formula 1 summer season, and as such the air and asphalt temperatures, which are usually very high, are the main features. This puts the drivers, cars and tires to the test , not least because the twisting nature of the track does not allow anyone or anything to catch their breath. There's a fairly long pit straight, which provides the only real overtaking opportunity under braking into the first right-hand corner. Then there are 13 more corners - seven right-handers and six left-handers - on a circuit that is second only to Monte Carlo in terms of slowest average speed; to the extent that the cars use similar downforce settings to Monaco. With so many slow corners, traction is one of the key factors for good performance and the biggest risk is tire overheating.Despite being a permanent track, the Hungaroring is not used very often, and the asphalt conditions improve considerably during the weekend as the ideal racing line rubbers in".


Red Bull bring to Hungary what will perhaps be the last great evolution of its RB19. Its pontoons are raised with a lower part dug as much as possible in the front area to further divert the air flow towards the rear. To achieve this result, the air intake is reduced to a slit that is certainly wider but also thinner. The volume of air thus saved for cooling passes under the undercut and provides more support. According to Red Bull this would save two tenths per lap, but this is hardly perceptible on the Hungaroring, a circuit that requires high downforce and penalizes low aerodynamic drag. Ferrari and Mercedes are bringing new versions of their front wings to increase the downforce required by the Hungaroring. Alpine also presents a new version of its front wing, particularly twisty with a very cut flap. Scuderia AlphaTauri continues the redesign of its AT04, with a slightly raised nose, a reconfigured spoiler and a widened flat bottom at the rear. After the excellent - and almost unexpected compared to the start of the championship, second place in Great Britain, the Englishman Lando Norris is ready to show the growth of his McLaren: 


"Hungary up next , the start of the last double header before the summer break. Getting on the podium in Silverstone felt really good . It's great to be in that position, but we'll keep working hard for the rest of the season as we keep improving our performance. Last week I was back at the MTC with my engineers working in preparation for Hungary. I look forward to getting back in the car and seeing what we can do. The Hungaroring is a challenging but fun track and Budapest is a great city, I'm really looking forward to getting back on track".


Teammate Oscar Piastri is of the same mind:  


"I'm really happy with our performance at the British GP. The upgrade felt good, and we got a lot of data to work on for the next race. Last week I was back in the sim at the MTC preparing, taking our learnings to make sure we keep improving. I'm looking forward to returning to the Hungaroring . It can be a tricky circuit in certain places, but we enjoy the challenge. I'm excited to get into this double -header, and hopefully go well in Budapest".


Andrea Stella, Team Principal of McLaren, can consider himself really satisfied with the car, as this year they are seeming to go in the right direction: 


"Following a successful British Grand Prix, we now turn out attention to Hungary, where we'll aim to keep up the momentum and continue on our journey of extracting performance from the MCL60. The circuit in Budapest is a very different track with low-speed corners. It will present a new challenge to the now upgraded MCL60. We remain with both feet on the ground but hopeful for another competitive weekend".


Mercedes’ Team Principal Toto Wolff is confident about how well their cars have always done on the Hungarian circuit, and he is even more confident given the podium of Hamilton the previous week. However, the other teams are growing, particularly McLaren, and that means problems in maintaining the second place in the constructors' standings: 


"We head to Hungary looking forward to tackling the double- header before the summer shutdown. It has been an up-and-down first half of the year, but we can take several positives. At Silverstone, we outscored our closest competitors. We executed well on race day. We were able to race to the podium and extend our P2 advantage in the championship. However, the order is fluctuating almost every weekend. We need to keep adding performance if we are to close the gap to the front and fight for victories. Several teams have made big gains recently. This has brought some into the fight with us, especially McLaren. It has been impressive and gives us encouragement that we can also continue to find gains. We relish that challenge and will bring our own steps in due course". 


And adds:


"The Hungaroring is a circuit that is quite different in nature to Silverstone. It will be interesting to explore how our latest upgrades perform in the long-radius, slow-speed corners. We have good memories from Hungary last year, with George's first pole position in F1 and a double podium for the Team. This race also marks a decade since Lewis' first win with us, so it's a circuit full of good memories. Hopefully we can have another strong showing this time out. We want to build on the positive momentum from Silverstone and take the fight to our rivals".


Alex Albon is undoubtedly the winning card of Williams of the present: 


"Hungary is a great circuit and one that we all love to drive around, as it has a great flow to it. We've just come off the back of three strong races, however I think going into this week, we need to manage expectations slightly, as it's not necessarily a track that should suit us. Nonetheless, we'll see how the upgrades perform around a high downforce track, which is something that hasn't been the case in the previous three races".


Esteban Ocon arrives in Hungary with the desire to demonstrate great things, especially after Silverstone, where he failed to cross the finish line and stopped his car on the ninth lap due to an oil leak:  


"I love driving at the Hungaroring. It's up there as one of my favorites and that's not just because I won there! It's a proper driver's circuit with lots of twists and turns, where overtaking can be difficult and tire management is very important. Budapest as a city is beautiful and has a good vibe to it. It will be a bit different not heading straight into the summer break after the race weekend, as we usually do, but I am excited for the next two weekends where we know we need to deliver good results to go into this year's summer shutdown on a high".


Pierre Gasly arrives with energy at the Hungaroring, forced to retire last week on lap 46: 


"I love Budapest. It's a fantastic city and one of my favorites of the season. The atmosphere there is always electric with so many fans both in the city and at the track supporting us. I do quite like the food in Hungary and I'm a fan of the nice architecture in the city. It's beautiful! Well-shaped and rounded like the Hungaroring ! It's a fast track with a great flow to it, non-stop with momentum key to a fast lap. I hope it suits our package and we can have a competitive weekend where both Esteban and I strive to return to the points and target a strong end to the first half of the season before the summer break with both Budapest and Spa back to back".


Max Verstappen is the absolute favorite for the victory (and for the others to come), with absolute dominance over all drivers and teams, even over his own teammate, who is undoubtedly in second place in the drivers' standings but with a 99 point difference from him in first and only 19 more than Alonso in third. He also won won last year’s edition of the Hungarian Grand Prix and has the desire to win for the second consecutive time: 


"The Hungarian GP is always an interesting one, last year it was tricky to make the right calls with the incoming rain and colder temperatures, but as a Team we remained calm and made all the right decisions. We have a couple of upgrades this weekend, hopefully they will do what we expect them to do so we can find extra performance for the upcoming races. Let's see where we stand on a track where you run high downforce with relatively low speed corners, it's an amazing track to drive and very technical as well. Definitely a place I always look forward to coming back to".


Sergio Perez is certainly disappointed by the Silverstone race:


"Hungary is an important race for me, because it's about getting my whole weekend in a complete place. I know I have fallen short in qualifying at times this season, so my focus has to be on having a successful Saturday because I know I have the race pace on a Sunday and an incredible car that should be on the podium every weekend. I have been in Milton Keynes working hard with my Team on making improvements. I spent the off weekend also in an F1 car! I had great fun in Madrid for the showrun , only Red Bull can shut down the busiest streets in a capital city and I love the fact as a Team we are constantly promoting motorsport to new audiences around the world, away from the racetrack". 


Ferrari is convinced that they can perform at their best in Hungary and for this very reason they have worked very hard during the last few days within sports management. The preparation for the eleventh round of the 2023 racing campaign includes a possible change to the rear axle. The Maranello team arrive at the Hungaroring with cautious optimism, convinced that all of the aforementioned factors can benefit the SF-23. The Hungarian track is very tortuous and, due to its characteristics, is often compared to Monte-Carlo as a type of circuit. In fact, there are several sections where the grip deriving from the mechanics will be fundamental. Generally speaking, in Budapest the preference is for a less rigid setup at the rear to improve traction. This is undoubtedly a crucial requirement for obtaining good chronometric results. Frédéric Vasseur, Ferrari’s Team Principal Ferrari, describes his thoughts about the imminent race:


"Now we come to Budapest: for our part, we are determined to continue making progress, which began with the introduction of several technical updates on the SF-23. Even if Silverstone saw a dip in the upward trend, there were clear signs of progress in Canada and Austria and we believe that we now have a car that will allow Charles and Carlos to give of their best at the Hungaroring. They both like this track and have prepared very well for this weekend, paying particular attention to qualifying, which is always very important on this tight circuit. This weekend, for the first time, all the teams have to deal with the new qualifying rules relating to the use of a single tire compound for each phase of qualifying, which adds yet another variable that needs to be looked at carefully, given how evenly matched are most of the teams. We expect to be fighting near the front on Saturday and Sunday".


Carlos Sainz Jr. arrives from a sad tenth position at Silverstone, but there is confident about the evolution of the car: 


"This circuit should suit our car. But the group behind Red Bull is so evenly matched that the slightest detail can make the difference between finishing on the podium or just on the edge of the points places. We will do our best to try and make the most of our potential, starting with qualifying, when we will be trying a new format. For my family, the past few days have been rather sad, because we lost my grandfather. I'd like to be able to dedicate a podium finish in Hungary to him and so I'll be racing with even more motivation to do well".


Charles Leclerc closed in ninth position at Silverstone, but also for him the confidence in the car and in this circuit is strong: 


"This track should suit our car better than Silverstone, but as usual, I expect that apart from Red Bull, it will be very close between the four or five teams fighting for places at the edge of the podium. I don't feel I want to make predictions about how competitive we can be before we go out on track because, especially with this weekend format, where we have two fewer sets of tires than usual - 11 instead of 13 - there are even more variables that come into play. Tire management will, as usual, be key and for our part, we have to do a very good job with all the choices we make, because so far the SF-23 has proven to be more sensitive in this area than other cars We will keep our feet on the ground and will work hard to get the best possible result we can".


Fernando Alonso has the desire to maintain third place in the drivers' championship, proving to be the only one up to the Red Bull drivers, as well as protecting his team’s third place in the Constructors' World Championship, trying to catch Mercedes: 


"I think we extracted the maximum from a challenging weekend at Silverstone. It was great to be racing in front of the British fans and also to spend some time at the new Technology Campus. We now switch our focus to Budapest. I have many good memories of racing at the Hungaroring. I won my first ever race in Formula One in 2003, exactly 20 years ago, and it's often the venue where I have celebrated my birthday. It'll be strange to celebrate that this year in Belgium, but let's hope we have something else to celebrate this weekend. Overtaking isn't easy here, but sometimes there are very strange races with unpredictable weather, so we have to be ready to capitalize and score as many points as possible".


Before the start of the first free practice session on Friday, the fourth gearbox and fourth transmission are installed on the car of Sergio Pérez and Kevin Magnussen. Both drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components installed are among those that can be used within the maximum number established by the technical regulations. The third unit relating to the internal combustion engine, the turbocharger, the MGU-H and the MGU-K, and the fifth unit relating to the exhaust system are installed on Esteban Ocon's car. The third unit relating to the MGU-K is installed on Magnussen's car, and the fourth unit relating to the exhaust system is installed on the car of Lewis Hamilton and Yuki Tsunoda. All drivers are not penalized on the starting grid as the new components installed are among those that can be used within the maximum number established by the technical regulations.


On Friday, 21st July 2023, the first practice session is going to be held. Right after the start, the session is red-flagged since Sergio Perez hits the wall in his out-lap between Turn 4 and 5, due to human error. The session resumes with about 45 minutes left, on wet conditions, so everyone needs to switch to intermediate tyres. Bottas goes for a spin on track in his out-lap with medium tyres, without consequences, then he immediately goes to the pits. Since all teams need to re-calibrate their programmes due to weather conditions, there is a lull for fifteen-twenty minutes, then some teams, like McLaren, try to do an out-lap under really inclement conditions with intermediate tyres but it is impossible for everyone to complete a full programme. After 45 minutes, Valtteri Bottas is the first driver to set a proper time in the leaderboard with intermediate tyres. Few moments later, the session is suspended as Carlos Sainz goes sideways at Turn 3, hits the wall and is stuck between the grass and the asphalt, but later, with the help of marshals, manages to return on track, with a broken piece on the front wing. In the last few minutes of the session, in slightly better conditions, Fernando Alonso sets the fastest lap with 1'43"277, then is beaten by Charles Leclerc with 1'42"909; Alonso goes back to the top with a two-second faster time (1'40"687), as the tracks progressively dries out, followed by his teammate Lance Stroll, two tenths behind. Two minutes before the end, George Russell makes his last effort and is the fastest with 1'40"4, then is beaten by Oscar Piastri, who is the first to break the 1'40"0 limit with 1'39"906, but manages to bring his Mercedes back to top with 1'39"652. Piastri beats him again with 1'39"0 in his last attempt but then Russell closes the session again in first place with a good 1'38"7, definitely a solid time on wet conditions. Anyway, many of the top tier drivers, such as Verstappen, Sainz and Hamilton, do not set any times, so it is difficult to state the power relations between drivers and teams at the moment. Daniel Ricciardo stayed in the box too, so his debut is postponed to FP2. The second free practice session starts on dry conditions, under a partly cloudy sky, so there might be more regular action in the next hour compared to FP1. The teams need to resume all the programmes put aside in the first session due to the rain and find the right set-up on dry conditions. In the first quarter of the session, the only few drivers running on soft tyres are the Williams men, Sargeant, who is the fastest with 1'18"8, and Albon, which is third, one tenth behind, with Norris between the two with medium tyres. Anyway, Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari have not set times yet. Mercedes decides to work first on the race pace on medium tyres. In the second quarter, few other drivers try soft tyres, such as Tsunoda, Norris, Hülkenberg, Verstappen, Stroll and Perez. The Japanese from AlphaTauri is the fastest at the moment with 1'17"9, but the majority of the drivers are still working on the race pace. 


Shortly after, Lando Norris sets the fastest time on soft tyres with 1'17"7. In the second half of the session, Charles Leclerc brings his Ferrari back on top with 1'17"686, and he will stay ahead until the end of the session. Max Verstappen is out of the top ten but is still happy with the race pace, since he is the one who suffered the least degradation on the long run with medium tyres, with McLaren surprisingly following Red Bull up close while Ferrari and Mercedes struggled a bit more with tyres, so Leclerc’s best lap in the leaderboard might only be a palliative. Verstappen is happy with the long run pace and criticises the new qualifying format:


"It is very hard to comment on the new upgrades after a limited amount of running, we will look through the data to see if everything is correlating well because we haven’t actually used a lot of tyre sets today. With this new format you are super limited with the tyres you can use and I didn’t want to use them today, so we could have a better preparation tomorrow. We want to be the quickest in qualifying but first we need to do a bit more running with different tyre sets to get a better understanding. The car felt not too bad, there was a bit of understeer but when I went out on the long run we looked competitive, it’s difficult to say over one lap pace but overall the car is still strong".


Sergio Perez, after the early crash in FP1, had a better time in FP2:


"Today, the incident in FP1 was a mistake from my side. However, the Team have done a tremendous job to get the car together so we could get some laps in for FP2 and, with the new tyre format this weekend, it was great to get some good information and data to look through. Regarding our new upgrades, it is quite early to comment and understand how they will come into play, but we will have a better idea of this tomorrow. Finally, I am positive about qualifying tomorrow and we have everything in place to go out and have a solid weekend".


In Mercedes, also Lewis Hamilton criticizes the qualifying format, which gives a more limited choice of tyres during free practice, and says that there is still space for improvement:


"We only used one set of the dry compound tyres today. With the ‘Alternative Tyre Allocation’ format we get less running, which is not ideal from a driver’s perspective. We will have more flexibility in terms of what tyres we run in FP3 tomorrow though. The car wasn’t feeling great today, but we will be working on the set-up overnight and hopefully make some improvements for tomorrow. We typically start off lacking a little pace. Through the work we do and changes we make, we typically tend to find some more speed as we progress into the weekend. I’m hopeful that tomorrow the car will feel better".


George Russell, after setting the fastest lap with intermediate tyres in FP1, only run with used medium tyres in FP2, so he says that the times were not indicative, and is worried about grip:


"We were on a very different programme to everyone else today, only using one set of the medium compound tyre throughout. For FP2, that meant we were running a used medium tyre, so the lap times don’t give a true representation of our pace. I’m sure tomorrow we will be better. We’re just focused on trying to improve and we know we tend to improve as the weekend progress, which is the right way around. We learned a few interesting things even in that one dry session. We’re struggling with a bit of overall grip and the tyres didn’t feel like they were in the right window on both low fuel and high fuel. We need to understand why that was, but these are difficult things to assess during a session. We will work on that overnight; it wasn’t our best day for sure but that’s not the first time we’ve said that this year. Saturday and Sunday tend to be better so I’m looking forward to the weekend".


Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes' Trackside Engineering Director, explains the choices for the use of tyres and analyses the situation of the car:


"FP1 was not a great deal of use due to the timing of the red flag and then the arrival of the rain. We carried a lightly used set of medium tyres into the second session; we did some work on lower fuel levels but focused more on the long run. Most teams took a second set of tyres today, something we chose not to do. That’s the main reason we don’t feature higher up on the time sheets. The benefit will come in the learning for qualifying, where we have two new sets in FP3. There’s plenty of work to do with the car balance on both the single lap and long run, which is useful as the field is looking very tight. We also have the challenge of different compounds in each segment of qualifying, meaning the out laps need to be adjusted continuously. We will review all the data tonight and see what we can do tomorrow".


In Ferrari, Charles Leclerc, the fastest in FP2, is happy but says that it is also difficult for him to compare his situation to other teams due to different programmes:


"It was a good day overall, although it is still difficult to read into the other teams’ performance as everyone is running different programmes in light of the new format. We did everything we planned to do and the feeling in the car was pretty good so let’s see what we can do tomorrow".


His teammate Carlos Sainz struggled a lot in both sessions, due to traffic:


"It was a strange Friday: FP1 was affected by the rain and in FP2 we had to work taking into account the new format we will run this weekend. In the short run I had quite a bit of traffic with the high fuel runners while in the long run I felt a bit better even if we didn’t do too many laps. Overall there is margin to improve ahead of tomorrow so we’ll get on with it straight away".


In Aston Martin, Fernando Alonso had a positive run overall and is hopeful for Saturday:


"It was a mixed day with some rain and windy conditions at the Hungaroring. We lost time in FP1 and didn’t get much track time in, but it was the same for everyone. I think we maximised FP2 and collected a lot of useful data particularly in preparation for race conditions. Generally, I am quite happy with today and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow in qualifying with hopefully dry conditions".


In McLaren, Lando Norris, who finished second in FP2, thinks that he had a good pace but he can also still improve a lot, especially in slow corners:


"It’s been a good Friday. I'm relatively happy with the overall pace of the car but there are some things to work on ahead of quali. I feel like I’m not able to push quite as much as I would like in a few places on the track, so I think we’ve got a little bit more to unlock - but we’ve started off with a decent balance. I would say our improved pace since the upgrade has continued to help us and give the team confidence in some of the high-speed corners - but the slow-speed corners are still the ones we’re trying to focus on and improve".


Oscar Piastri had some issues in FP2 and had his car repaired in the middle of the session due to floor damage but managed to do a good run anyway:


"Friday done, FP1 looked very encouraging in the wet and despite a little bit of floor damage for myself in FP2, we looked pretty solid overall. I missed a bit of running in the middle of the second session due to the damage, but the team did a great job to get the car back on track for valuable laps. I feel like I was in a reasonable place in both sessions, so I'm pretty happy with that. We look to have decent pace, so we'll look into the data overnight and prepare for what tomorrow brings".


Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, states that the new qualifying format limited the work on Friday but the team collected enough data in any case:


"The variable weather in FP1, and then some floor damage to Oscar’s car in FP2, meant we didn’t get quite as many laps as we would have liked today - but despite the limitations, we gathered some useful data, about the car and tyres, in preparation for qualifying and the race. We’ll work as usual overnight to analyse what we have learned and prepare as well as we can for what will be an interesting debut of the Alternative Tyre Allocation format".


In Alpine, Esteban Ocon, who got his maiden win on this circuit in 2021, thinks that he did a good job in FP2, by doing all the necessary programmes:


"It’s always emotional to drive around this circuit with all the great memories we’ve had here. It’s been a decent day for us, which started with a rain interrupted first session. In the afternoon, we had some good running in Free Practice 2 with the car feeling good overall, and we managed to stick to our programme without any issues. There are some things for us to work on but, overall, we have potential and I hope we will be in good shape for tomorrow. Qualifying will be interesting with the new mandatory tyre choice for each segment so we’ll prepare the best we can for that. We’re looking forward to seeing what we can do on this track and we’re fully focused on delivering a good result for the team".


His teammate Pierre Gasly is happy too, especially because he ended the second session with the third-fastest time:


"It’s been a solid Friday in Budapest with the one meaningful session in Free Practice 2. I’m happy with today’s work and it’s always nice to be inside the top three on the leaderboard. Free Practice 1 was not representative in the wet conditions where we ran a couple of install laps. The car felt good and consistent and we have a couple of things to work on to find more lap time ahead of tomorrow’s important Qualifying session. We will keep our heads down, keep working hard as a team as there is a long way to go this weekend where our end objective is to come away with as many points as possible".


Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine’s Team Principal, is happy with the work done and with the upgrades:


"We can be satisfied with our start to the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend where both cars have run consistently and competitively during Practice today. We have a new circuit-specific front wing here, which has worked to expectations and, overall, our package seems well suited to the demands of the Hungaroring. We will keep working hard as a team to put ourselves in a strong position for Qualifying on Saturday afternoon; an all-important session given the nature of the track. Both drivers are pleased with today’s work and look forward to extracting more performance from the car when it counts".


In Williams, Alex Albon says that the track is not ideal for his car but there are still improvements compared to last year:


"It was a good day for us with the car feeling okay out there, and it being possible to get it into a pretty decent window. It does highlight that it’s not a track that really suits us so even though the car felt good, relative to our rivals, we’re still lacking a bit of pace which is to be expected. However, thinking about it from last year, the car is a good improvement, but we still need to do a bit more for tomorrow if we want to get into Q2".


Simone Berra, Pirelli Chief Engineer, comments the tyre situation in this Friday:


"It was rather an unusual day, down to the changing weather and to the debut of the new tyre allocation format for the weekend as a whole and for qualifying specifically. The first session was not very relevant, especially as the chance of more rain for the rest of the weekend is very low. The second hour however was very useful, producing interesting data. For example, we were able to see that, in these temperatures, with the track never exceeding 34 °C, even the C5 compound looks like a potential candidate to be used in the race The ATA definitely influenced the teams' programmes, with almost all the drivers saving the Hard for the coming sessions. As usually happens at the Hungaroring and it was even more the case today given the temperatures were lower than usual, we had some graining, a phenomenon which tends to diminish bit by bit as the track rubbers in and the temperatures rise. A very initial look at the data suggests the performance difference between the Soft and the Medium is in line with expectations at around four to five tenths, while it wasn't possible to confirm the gap between Medium and Hard given how few laps were completed on that compound".


The teams will face each other again on Saturday for the FP3 and the new, much discussed qualifying format, with all teams obliged to mount hard tyres in Q1, medium tyres in Q2 and soft tyres in Q3, so it might be a session full of surprises and plot twists. This format was initially predicted for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, which was cancelled due to the flooding that devastated the region. On Saturday morning, it’s time for the third round of free practice sessions. The teams have just an hour to fix the cars’ set-ups ahead of qualifying and the race, while the drivers have to do with a track different from the previous day, after the night rain. While veryone continues to adapt to Pirelli’s Alternative Tyre Allocation for the weekend, concerning the use of hards in Q1, mediums in Q2 and softs in Q3, a lot of drivers are out on used slick tyres, while Verstappen is on a fresh set of mediums, running straight to the first place with a time of 1'18"478. The drivers switch to brand-new soft tyres, and Hamilton goes straight to the top of the timesheets with 1'17"811, exactly two and half tenths ahead of Verstappen, who is now in second place. Sergio Perez gets third, continuing his recovery from his crash in FP1 and his damaging lock-up in second practice. Exceptionally fourth is Nico Hulkenberg, Lando Norris is fifth, while the other Mercedes of George Russell is sixth, ahead of the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, with the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso in ninth place. 


Valtteri Bottas had a good pace in his Alfa Romeo and ends 10th, with his team mate Zhou Guanyu further back in 12th, with Lance Stroll between the pair. Alex Albon is 13th ahead of McLaren's rookie Oscar Piastri and the other Haas of Kevin Magnussen. Pierre Gasly is 16th ahead of Logan Sargeant. Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon are 18th and 19th respectively, with Yuki Tsunoda at the end of the field. All the practice sessions have finished, so everyone has to get ready for qualifying who will be held at 4:00 p.m. local time. Pirelli’s Alternative Tyre Allocation is about to give us different than usual practice sessions, so everything can happen in qualifying, with hard compound for Q1, medium for Q2 and soft for Q3. The session starts and Bottas is the first who sets the first time in 1'18"818, before improving to 1'18"775, while Perez is 0.069s adrift, followed by Verstappen, Piastri, Russell and Alonso. Magnussen, Piastri, Albon, Sargeant and Zhou exceed track limits losing their early efforts and leaving the Haas and Williams in the drop zone together with the cars of Tsunoda and Ricciardo. After a little, the drivers try again: Verstappen goes P1 with 1'18"658, while Tsunoda is fourth behind Perez, and Ricciardo eighth behind the McLarens and Russell’s Mercedes. Ocon improves and pushes Leclerc into the drop zone in 16th, together with Stroll, Hulkenberg, Sargeant and Magnussen. 


The Monegasque talks to the Ferrari pit wall about his concerns and they decide to make him stop for a second set of hard tyres. He goes third due to this change, behind Perez and Zhou, who now leads with 1'18"143. Zhou remains the pace-setter, ahead of Red Bull pair Verstappen and Perez, Ferrari duo Sainz and Leclerc, Piastri’s McLaren and Hamilton. Bad for Russell, who complains over the radio about a compromised warm-up lap as a cause for his exit. Alonso, Hulkenberg and Norris round out the top 10, followed by Gasly, Bottas, Stroll and Ocon. Ricciardo manages to get into Q1 on his comeback weekend. The drivers out in Q1 are Albon, Tsunoda, Russell, Magnussen, Sargeant. Q2 starts and everyone is on medium tyres. Verstappen makes immediately his way to the top of the timesheets with 1'17"296, but another track limits violation sees him lose his lap; Norris and Piastri are now one and second respectively, ahead of Perez, Alonso and Hamilton. Verstappen makes anothere attempt and goes second with 1'17"547, and then first while Hamilton slots second. Hulkenberg, Perez, Zhou and Alonso manage to reach Q3, while Sainz is surprisingly out. Ocon is in 12th position, ahead of Ricciardo. The other two drivers out are Stroll and Gasly. Q3 starts with another change of tyres: all the drivers are back out on softs. Verstappen goes faster on the first sequence of runs with 1'16"612, a tenth ahead of Hamilton, while Norris is in P3 followed by Alonso, Perez and Leclerc. Bottas is seventh, ahead of Hulkenberg, Piastri and team mate Zhou, who has lost a lap time for exceeding track limits. During the last attempts, Verstappen doesn’t manage to improve, while Hamilton makes an impressively 1'16"609, grabs the pole and line up at the front of the grid for the first time since Jeddah 2021. Behind, Norris and Piastri are third and fourth, with Alfa Romeo pair Zhou and Bottas managing to sandwich the Ferrari of Leclerc in positions five to seven. Alonso is eighth, Perez ninth and Hulkenberg 10th. A day to remember for Mercedes. Hamilton managed to extract enough pace on the hards to make Q2 and then made also Q3 with ease. The Briton ran then a perfect final lap and grab pole by just 0.003s from old rival Verstappen:


"Pole position is an amazing feeling! I feel so grateful because the Team have worked so hard. We've been pushing so much over this time so to finally get pole position is great; it feels just like the first time. I didn't expect that we'd be fighting for P1 coming here today. When I started my final lap, I gave it absolutely everything. There was nothing left in it. There's been plenty of ups and downs over the past 18 months. It's been a roller-coaster ride, but none of us have lost faith. We've all just hauled together and stayed united. We're focusing on trying to steer the car in the right direction. It has been tough, and will continue to be so at times, but I think this shows that we're on the right track and we can do it if we keep pushing. I have to try and sleep tonight now! Tomorrow, we'll bring our A-game as a Team. It's going to be difficult to fight Max and Lando but let's see what we can do".


Opposite feelings for George Russell, who surely will have a tough race on Sunday:


"Today we were fast, and the car felt great. Unfortunately, we were out of sync with everybody else for the whole session. We have a great Team around us but the whole session just wasn't good enough for our standards. There was a lot of traffic at the end of the final sector, and the lap was gone when I was three tenths down by turn one. The Hard tyre works well here, especially with the high temperatures, but we were just on track at the wrong time. It's disappointing as the car was more than quick enough to get through. When you don't get things right you get punished and we've been punished for sure today. Lewis did an amazing job though so congratulations to him. Tomorrow will be extremely hard, but we'll be fighting and I'm going to try to come back through. Even though it's a tough track to overtake, I'll do my best tomorrow".


Toto Wolff, Mercedes' Team Principal & CEO, knows that the team made the right decisions. He is sad for George’s adventure but tell that on Sunday they will give everything they have got:


"We had a package today that was competitive. That's something we can be really proud of. Lewis drove an amazing lap and put it on pole. If you give him a car, that's what he can do. We made some good decisions with the set-up overnight and the drivers moved it in the right direction in FP3. The car we had today gave them confidence and allowed them to push. We made a mistake with George. We should have put him in a much better position on track and we've apologised to him for that. There's a gentleman's agreement that you don't overtake one another as time is running out. He had a number of cars move ahead of him though and that obviously screwed up his last lap. We will be fighting tomorrow, and we know it will be tough. The long run pace of others looked strong but form in the race sometimes looks a little different to practice. We will be giving it everything we've got and see what our car is capable of".


Andrew Shovlin, Mercedes’ Trackside Engineering Director, concludes:


"It's great to get pole with Lewis; he had a really strong session. A lot of hard work has gone into improving the car over recent races and it's a sign that we're moving in a good direction. On the other hand, we let George down with how we handled his session. It wasn't good enough and we'll review and see how we can improve. It's obviously very disappointing when we see the promise of the car and that he didn't get the opportunity to get a clean run in. We'll see what we can do tomorrow. Both drivers will be in for a tough race. Max looks to have been struggling more than normal for single lap pace, but his long run was very strong, as was Lando's. George has a lot of cars between him and the points. We will need to look to offset on strategy to put him in a position where we can start making progress. It's going to be hot and if we are looking after the tyres well that will bring opportunity. With Lewis we'll be hoping for a good start and then see what we can do from there".


After the bad experiences during the last qualifying, Sergio Perez managed to made get into Q3 for the first time since Miami:


"Today was such a tight battle that was dominated by the compounds and the new tyre format. You dont get many learnings on the tyres so we dont have too much information from them for this weekend. In Q3, I had a poor sector one on the last lap which set us back, however, we have had a solid day and are focusing all our efforts on tomorrow. I believe we can be competitive and aim to finish on the podium as we have a good race car and a strong race pace. The track here is harder to overtake on but I am confident we will have a good performance: everything is to play for on race day".


Verstappen lost a lap time in Q2 and did not manage to improve on his final run, so didn’t take the pole:


"We have not performed the way we should be performing all weekend, it has been really difficult to get the most out of the car. I was struggling with putting the balance together, front to rear. We tried a lot of different things in terms of set-up but it didnt really work. When you are struggling in qualifying you can only try one or two things and then when you really push you fall out of the window again. My second lap in Q3 I tried to push a bit more and the car wasnt there. I think our upgrades worked but that didnt really show. The balance I had in qualifying wont necessarily be a bad thing for tomorrow. Everything in the race is a lot calmer and more stable, whereas in qualifying you really push it to the limit on the balance and can feel more issues. Our long run looks competitive so that is positive. It is still going to be tough to get in front but if we are better on tyres then I predict a good race. Nothing is lost, we have a good race car and it will be a good battle with them tomorrow".


Christian Horner is happy for Checo but explains at the same time that maybe Verstappen did not have feeling with this car’s setup:


"A good qualifying today from both our drivers but it was a big lap from Lewis and he did very well to secure pole. Max didnt seem too comfortable with his set up, he wasnt able to find his sweet spot, you could see he was fighting the car slightly. I dont think he was getting what he wanted from the car in quali as he seemed more comfortable in the long runs we did earlier today so we will be looking into it this evening. Great to see Checo in Q3 although I know he wont be happy with P9 but its been a weird grid with a lot of movement. He will race well tomorrow though, we just need to ensure we give him the right strategy. It will be 10 degrees hotter which will make things interesting, especially with the balance, but we tend to have better race pace than we do in qualifying so lets see what tomorrow brings".


Perfect qualifying for McLaren, with both cars intp Q3, and Norris who ended up less than a tenth from pole: 


"If you're doing within a tenth of pole, it feels like you should be on pole if you put the lap together, but I guess as an overall picture, the team did a good job: P3 and P4 for both of us. So, a good weekend so far but, as a driver, I'm not the happiest. I feel like I made too many mistakes here and there and that cost me today. There are always little things. Just putting the lap together. It wasn't the cleanest. I guess there's always an element of risk involved in trying to push it a little bit more - but nothing major. P3 is still a good position for tomorrow. So, still a good day. I'm excited. I think the race pace yesterday was pretty strong. Just as strong as we were at Silverstone, so I'm excited. It's just a difficult track to overtake - which is probably why I'm a bit more frustrated than I normally would be - but I'm up there with the good guys. We've got two cars up there, so hopefully we can use them and get some good points tomorrow. We did a good job today. Tonight, we focus for tomorrow".


Oscar Piastri will start the race from the second row together with his team mate:


"P4, so I'm happy to be at the front, definitely. I think in Q3 it wasn't my best performance, but it was enough to be on the second row. So, we'll see what we can do tomorrow. It's been a very encouraging day for the team, to still be at the front at a very different circuit. So, full credit to the team in giving us these opportunities. I'll try to make sure I'm a little bit more polished next time, but it's still a nice place to be, in P4".


Andrea Stella, McLaren’s Team Principal, is collecting the results of the hard work done by the team:


"A positive day for McLaren, with Lando in P3 and Oscar P4 at the end of what was an interesting qualifying session with the new ATA format. Both drivers drove very well in tricky conditions, due to a slippery and windy track, and were able to capitalise on the hard work of the team, here at the track and back at the MTC. The Hungaroring, with some more low-speed sections and high temperatures, is different to the previous two circuits, and this performance looks like confirmation of the step forward we have made. Now, focus is on being as prepared as possible for the race tomorrow".


Ferrari managed to get just Leclerc’s car into Q3. However, he ended up sixth: 


"Although I am happy with my lap, we just werent fast enough. Our car is quite sensitive to wind and that also affected the outcome. Its difficult to say who our main competitors will be tomorrow, because, as we have seen this season, the pecking order is changing all the time. We know what our weak spots are and will work hard to improve them. Tyre management is key on this track, if we manage that well we can have a good race".


Carlos Sainz Jr. will suprisingly start from P11 tomorrow:


"Im not happy to miss out on Q3 for the first time this year by only two thousands. I havent been comfortable with the Medium compound all weekend and I paid the price today, in the tightest qualifying of the season so far. It wont be easy tomorrow with the traffic and the high degradation, but well try everything to overtake and gain positions to bring home some good points".


Frédéric Vasseur, Ferraris’ Team Principal, knows that the problem was about the tyre management. He hopes they can imorove tomorrow:

"Our performance today has nothing to do with the new format, which is the same for everybody. We struggled to get a clear picture of our situation before the session, but what let us down is that we did not do a good job in terms of tyre management. In the end, with Charles we missed out on being one row further up the grid by less than a tenth. We were matching Lewis for all the session, but we could not do it at the end. As for the race, its hard to say how it will unfold, because teams were doing their long runs yesterday on different compounds. Track conditions tomorrow will be completely different to Friday which means we all go into the race a bit blind, since we had limited runs with high fuel this morning. Tomorrow, the opening lap will be crucial as it is quite difficult to overtake, as we saw in todays Formula 3 and Formula 2 races, when there were big DRS trains. It will be an interesting challenge and we will have a lot of work to do tonight". 


Fernando Alonso took eight position and describe this as a normal qualifying:


"I was happy with the AMR23 today in Qualifying after we made some tweaks to the set-up from yesterday. The average time for us to pole position has been four to five tenths [of a second] this season, so if you look at our result today, it was a normal Qualifying. The pack is so close, so a tenth here or there makes a huge difference in deciding the final positions. I think our performance is better than our result suggests. Looking ahead to the race we know it's difficult to overtake here, so I think it will be tough tomorrow. We will try to extract the maximum and target the top six positions to score as many points as possible".


Bot Alpine cars exited in Q2. Gasly had a lap time deleted for track limits:


"It's been a frustrating day for the whole team and it's always a bitter feeling not to be in the final part of Qualifying. The qualifying system today is the same for everybody but we seemed to struggle on the harder compounds especially on warm-up and getting the tyres into a window at the beginning of the lap. In plain terms, we were simply not fast enough today. We have to keep our heads down, keep working hard and find ways to make our package quicker. This weekend is not over until the chequered flag drops tomorrow afternoon. We will see what we can do on strategy to make up some places and I'll give it my all on track".


Ocon seemed to not find the pace to fight for the top 10: 


"It's a disappointing feeling not to reach Q3. All teams expected some challenges with the new Qualifying format on Hards and Mediums in Q1 and Q2 and that certainly proved to be the case. We've been at our best on the Soft compound this weekend, so it's a pity we could not reach Q3 and see where we could have ended up. There are many things we must review but right now, we will focus on tomorrow's race and working our way back into the points. We will need a good start, a good strategy and I'm confident we can secure some points as a team".


Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine’s Team Principal, is of course disappointed:


"We are all disappointed to not get a car into Q3. After Practice, we knew it was going to be a challenge to progress through Q1 and Q2 with both drivers reporting similar feedback on the Hard and Medium tyres, which were mandated for Q1 and Q2. We had confidence on the Soft tyres, which, in the end, we were not able to demonstrate after not reaching Q3. The weekend is far from over and we will give it our all to turn around our compromised starting positions and we will do our best to come away with points on Sunday afternoon".


Ricciardo is the real star of the weekend and is optimistic about the car and the race tomorrow:


"The main thing is for me to get behind the wheel, feel good again and be comfortable in the car and the team. I feel like Ive made good progress over the past two days and learnt relatively quickly, and as long as we keep progressing from here, Ill be happy. It hasnt been the easiest weekend to come in, with the wet conditions we had yesterday and the different tyre allocations, but I was happy to be competitive in qualifying. I dont expect the racing to feel too foreign, I only took half a year off, so tomorrow will be fun, and of course, if there are gaps, Ill see what the car can do".


Albon’s wasn’t far off making Q2, winding up just 0.011s back from the time he needed: 


"If you look at Qualifying, it wasn't a bad session as we were right in the mix - one tenth would have moved us up a few places. It's frustrating to be so close to Q2 but it's a bit more representative of our overall pace. It shows we're making progress but it's also good to come to tracks like this as it helps us to understand our car and highlight the issues. Even the tyre compounds went against us I believe as the harder tyres have less grip, so soft tyres tend to hide our problems, whilst hard tyres expose us more. It was always going to be tricky but, ultimately, I believe the Alternative Tyre Allocation penalises us more than the top teams who can save on tyres and be better prepared for Sunday".


Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, analyzes this interesting qualifying with the new format:


"I think this was a very interesting qualifying, with the new format posing various challenges for the drivers. It made for even closer times and more unpredictability than at previous events. That can be seen from the fact that seven teams are represented in the top ten and the fastest ten qualifiers are all within six tenths of each other. For example, the drivers had to adapt to the switch from one compound to another in the three phases of qualifying, something they are no longer used to, ever since the rule stating they had to start the race on the same set of tyres with which they made the cut out of Q2 was abolished. At the same time, considering that the Hard seems like the best choice of race tyre, many drivers opted not to use these sets in free practice and therefore found themselves somewhat in the dark in Q1, so that even the top teams had to do two runs. In FP3, the long runs showed that, with a track temperature of around 50 °C, which is what we can also expect for the race, the C5 does not seem to be the ideal choice for the race. At the same time, the higher temperatures compared to yesterday and the normal track evolution, always very significant at the Hungaroring, sees the balance swinging more in favour of the two harder compounds, the C3 and C4. Therefore, the most likely strategy is for two stops, starting on the C4 and running two further stints on the C3. A single stop (Hard-Medium) is possible but it's very much on the limit, both in terms of performance drop-off and tread life. Add these factors to the way the grid order looks and it should be a spectacular race".


It's Sunday July 23, 2023, in Hungary and it's finally race day for the 20 F1 drivers. The track is clear and the conditions are quite good. Most of the drivers are starting on medium tyres, except for Perez and Russell, who are starting on hards and for Sainz, Stroll and Tsunoda who have soft tyres on.


At 2:00 p.m. o'clock the race starts and Max Verstappen immediately overtakes the poleman Lewis Hamilton, slipping down the inside approaching Turn 1 and making the move stick at the apex. Piastri takes advantage of the pair going deep by taking the inside line, slotting between them and snatching second position. Norris goes ahead Hamilton with a move around the outside of Turn 2, while back, Zhou hits Ricciardo, who then runs into Ocon, who subsequently hits his team mate Gasly. Bad for Alpine, as their two cars immediately retire from the race. Perez tries to make a move on Alonso into Turn 1 on Lap 8, while Hulkenberg and Stroll are in the final points-paying positions. Zhou is given a five-second penalty for his aforementioned actions, while Bottas is 12th. On lap 9, Albon pits for hards, followed a lap later by Stroll, Bottas and Tsunoda, who mount the same tyres, while Sainz, after a very good start, remains on his starting set of softs despite Ferrari’s calls to box. Verstappen is more than five seconds ahead of the McLarens and Hamilton is fourth from the Ferraris of Leclerc and Sainz, who starts to feel the pressure from Perez.


"If I see Checo is going to pass me, I will call box".


Says the Spaniard on the the radio, and he goes into the pits on lap 16 for hards, rejoining outside the top 10. Hamilton pits on the following lap and emerges in eighth; Norris does the same a lap later, followed by Leclerc, who has a delayed stop due to a sticky tyre, and loses a lot of positions. Piastri pits at the end of the next lap, while leader Verstappen continues to stay out. 


"How have they got nine seconds already? That’s a crazy amount".


Hamilton comments over the radio after all the pits, as Norris and Piastri enjoy some significant distance from his Mercedes. Verstappen pits on lap 23 for hards and comes back out in the lead. Now Perez and Russell are the only two drivers yet to stop. The Mexican does it on lap 24, followed by Russell. Verstappen has a five-second detachment over second place, and Hamilton is now more than 20 seconds off the lead. Perez passes Sainz into Turn 1 and Russell into Turn 2 in quick succession to go fifth, while the Red Bull pit wall suggest him to pass also Hamilton. Sainz and Leclerc are sixth and seventh, with Alonso, Stroll and Bottas in the final spots of the top ten, while Russell is 13th. Piastri starts to drop away from the top two, while Russell seems to have a good pace to work his way up to the top ten. Norris says over the radio: 


"The tyres are not bad but they don’t feel that good".


He is now more than 15 seconds behind Verstappen. On lap 43, Piastri and Perez pit for medium tyres. Two laps later, Norris mounts his set of mediums and emerges with a comfortable margin over Piastri and Perez. Leclerc is noted for potentially speeding in the pit lane and is given a five-second penalty that needs to be served in the pits or at the finish. On lap 47, Perez makes a move on Piastri around the outside of Turn 1. Hamilton pits on lap50, followed by Verstappen on lap 52. Hamilton passes Piastri into Turn 1 on lap 57. He tries to attack Perez, while Russell passes Sainz and then benefits from Leclerc’s time penalty. Norris maintains his second position and makes it to the flag between Verstappen, the winner, and Perez. Obviously Max Verstappen is happy for yet another victory he has won this season:


"I feel extremely proud to win the Dutch Grand Prix again and to win nine in a row is a massive achievement, I never thought it would be possible. It’s always amazing to be here and the National anthem before the Grand Prix really gave me goosebumps. Of course, there were a lot of hectic moments today with the rain coming in, the race was all about trying to stay calm and make the right calls at the right time and we did just that. There was a fantastic atmosphere here all weekend and being at my home Grand Prix with all the fans makes this win feel even more special. I think everyone was completely soaked after that downpour and still they were listening and dancing to music and having a great time".


Despite starting in ninth position, Sergio Perez managed to finish the race in third place, thus climbing onto the podium:


"It was such an unfortunate afternoon in the end, especially with the later calls, we got the first one right and then when we boxed for the inters things weren’t ready because I had to make such a late call due to the rain suddenly falling. When I was coming into the pitlane to box for inters it was completely flooded, I lost traction in the car and ended up clipping the wall and sliding a little which put me over the speed limit. You know a lot more after the race but overall it’s an okay result given the chaos of the afternoon. The Team always know the wider picture when they are making decisions in the race and I don’t have all the information in the car, that’s why we have strategists and everyone makes the calls in the interest of the Team. We had good pace and definitely deserved a podium today, so it’s a shame we didn’t make it".


And Christian Horner adds:


"The rain was on and off throughout the whole race, but Max did an amazing job in the tricky conditions. He had an incredible drive having to come back through the field after his first pit stop, with some drivers staying out on the slick tyre and others pitting for the inters. Once everything settled down, he was able to build a lead and had everything under control. We knew the heavy rain towards the end was coming and when you’re in first place you have everything to lose, but Max had a great restart and secured first place with an excellent drive. Checo made great progress coming from seventh on the grid and made a superb call to switch to the inters towards the start, the Team reacted super-fast and he took lead of the race. During the next cycle of pit stops, as the track started to dry, we had to bring Max in to avoid getting undercut. Sometimes you have to make big calls for the Team and that was one of those moments. It’s a shame we couldn’t have Checo up on the podium following his penalty, as he deserved to be there but with a race with so much drama and jeopardy there’s always things that we can reflect on. In all the Team had a very strong day and for Max to match Seb Vettel’s record of nine consecutive victories it’s incredible. The fact that we’ve achieved it twice now as a Team is something very special to us".


Lando Norris is of course happy about his race, even thought it was a difficult one:


"Tough race. Not an easy one, especially with Pérez catching, but he didn't have the pace to catch up in the end so I'm happy. I had to fight for a little bit in the beginning after Turn One but another podium for us, for McLaren, it's an amazing result. I think we're very happy with the progress we've made, to go from where we were four, five races ago, to be fighting for poles, and fighting for podiums, we'll take it for now, and work hard to continue improving throughout the season. We've shown great teamwork; everyone back in the factory did an amazing job and we'll now look to take these recent performances to Belgium".


Oscar Piastri agrees on saying it was a good day for McLaren, especially with the improvements:


"P5. Some positives to take from that race. I think the big takeaway for me was working on tyre management. I struggled quite a lot in the second and third stint following some floor damage. So, yeah, a lot to learn from that one but to still end up with P5, with the challenges I had, is a very good result. Obviously, a great day for the team again, everyone at track and back at the factory. We have made decent steps forward in the last few races. The conditions this weekend have been a good test for us. To still be up there is a big confidence boost and we can look to take that momentum to Spa next week".


Andrea Stella, McLaren's team principal, declares it has been a good race that confirms the improvements of the team:


"Following on from Silverstone, another strong result for our team with Lando on the podium again and Oscar finishing P5. On Oscar's side, the first stint was very strong. In the second stint, we need to look at the impact that some car damage had, in terms of performance and interaction with the tyres, because we seem to have lost the ability to sustain tyre life over the stint. On Lando's side, it was a very strong race, especially the final stint in which he kept consistency in his tyres with Pérez chasing hard, and he was able to bring home another trophy with another P2 finish. It was important to gain this confirmation that the improvements to our car work in hot conditions, and work on tracks with low-speed corners. My thanks again to all the people at McLaren who have laboured so hard to bring these upgrades trackside. I hope they are enjoying the moment - but only today: tomorrow we refocus and get ready for the Sprint weekend at Spa".


After initially feeling not great with the car, Lewis Hamilton says that everything went better during the final stages of the race:


"My initial getaway wasn't the worst I've ever had but it wasn't as good as the others. I ran wide and also got done by the McLarens. After that, I didn't have the pace to keep up with those ahead. The balance of the car didn't feel great in the first stint, and I had a lot of understeer, to snap oversteer, and problems with through-corner balance. As the stints progressed, the car started to become more driveable, and the final stint was much better. The pace we had at the end was very strong and if we had had that throughout, we would have had a much better day. Nevertheless, I'm going to take the positives from this weekend. It was an amazing effort from the Team to take pole position. We still have a lot of work to do to beat Red Bull in a Grand Prix, but we will keep pushing".


George Russell is satisfied with his position and mentions the Constructors' Championship:


"P6 was beyond our expectations for today. It was definitely a good recovery. We thought we would be P11 in a typical race and P7 if we maximised everything. I'm happy with how it went. The car was really quick, and this place is one of my favourite circuits. As a Team, we usually go well here so I had a feeling we would be quick. Of course it is disappointing as we didn't deliver yesterday. I think we could have been right up there and if we had two cars up front, the dynamic changes completely. Nevertheless, we've extended the gap over P3 in the Constructors' Championship so we will take it. There are a lot of positives to come out of this weekend and we have learned a lot. We will go again at Spa next week".


Toto Wolff, Mercedes' Team Principal, thinks the car was pretty good, but the result don’t show this:


"I think we had the second quickest car today, but the result doesn't show it. If you look at the lap time profile and George's progress, there was opportunity for more, but we didn't monetise it. That is obviously disappointing. In the final stint, Lewis reeled in over 10 seconds to those ahead and we finished just 1.5 seconds shy of the podium. I think if we had executed our race slightly differently, we would have had that margin. We need to analyse and see what we could have done. We were far off a pole position at the start of the year, and we've started to comprehend the car more. Having said that, Max looked tranquil up front and we're not here to race for second-best. Getting to the front is the objective and of course, that was far off today".


Andrew Shovlin, a bit frustrated of not getting a podium, comments: 


"Starting from P1 and not even making the podium is always going to be disappointing. We never believed we had the pace to beat Verstappen, but we could have been second had more gone our way. The opening lap wasn't great for Lewis, dropping to fourth, but as the race went on our pace seemed to get better". 


And adds:


"At one point it looked like we'd be a distant fourth, but he did a good job closing Perez and Norris down in the final stint. It was frustrating that we couldn't get on the back of them sooner. Our expectations with George were to just make it into the points. For him to come sixth is a very good result. We were nursing engine temperatures, which cost both cars a lot of race time, as the ambient temperature was slightly higher than expected. We've made small gains to Ferrari and Aston Martin in the Constructors' Championship, which is some consolation. Overall though, we leave here thinking we could have done a much better job as a Team".


Charles Leclerc had to cope with a penalty that could have ruined his race entirely:


"I was quite happy with my pace in the first stint, as we were managing things really well and keeping up with the cars ahead. Then we lost time on our first pit stop, which put us on the back foot and I had to push to recover some positions. The penalty we got after the second stop was another thing that made things more difficult, so all in all, it wasn’t a great day. I’m looking forward to Spa and hope that we can finish the first half of the season on a high there".


Carlos Sainz Jr. thinks the problems of the car derive from the hard tyres:


"We had a good start, making up five places on the first lap, and a very good first stint with the Softs, managing to stretch the tyre life. Unfortunately, with the Hard compound and longer stints to do, we struggled with rear degradation and didn’t have the pace of the front runners, which is our main weakness at the moment. We were expecting more at this track and we need to look into our main areas of improvement".


Frédéric Vasseur is not so satisfied with this race, but looks forward to Spa:


"Our result is rather poor today. It was a complicated race with Charles, chiefly because he lost around seven seconds at the pit stop, which was a massive delay, because of an issue with a wheel-gun. This also put him in traffic and then there was also the 5-second pit lane speeding penalty. With Carlos, we took the risk of starting him on Softs and it was a good move in the early stages, as he made up places. But we knew it would be quite tricky for him as he would have to do a lot of tyre management, switching earlier to the Hard compound. However, starting eleventh and finishing where he did, ahead of Alonso, I’d say was not too bad a result. I have the feeling that we are not that far off the pace in terms of performance, but we did not put everything together over the whole weekend. We showed we had the potential on Friday, but then we did not build on it for Saturday or today in the race. Now we really need to focus on Belgium, because it is always important to go into the summer break with a good result, find more pace and minimise mistakes".


For Fernando Alonso, the Aston Martin team need to get back to the initials results:


"I think three points for us was the maximum we could achieve [as a team] today. We had a bit of a lonely race with no threats behind, but we were unable to make significant ground up on our competitors ahead of us. It was a hot and demanding race as well and we all had to manage the tyres throughout. There have been a lot of surprises in the last few race weekends, but we need to try our best to get back to fighting at the front of the pack. We will analyse everything and look to bounce back at Spa next week".


Alex Albon finished P11 and thinks this, alongside with the result in qualifying, is a good sign to improve and be better in other tracks:


"P11 is quite a surprising result, it was quite a defensive race which we like to do. We got track position and we were okay; we came into this circuit knowing it wouldn't suit us and we qualified where the pace of the car was. Clean air is so important around here; even though I pitted early, once I had clean air, I had a lot of laps to bed the tyre in slowly so once I came out and undercut the other cars, I had some grip left and could manage them behind me. We've highlighted the areas our car struggles with by coming here, so when the car doesn't feel great, it's still raceable. To finish P11 and almost make Q2 yesterday, it's a very good sign, so if we can fix these issues, then we'll be in a good place across various circuits". 


A terrible weekend for Alpine, whose drivers couldn't even race after the incident in the first corner and were forced to retire. Esteban Ocon, who even went to the medical centre for a checkup, says:


"There is not much to say from today. It's a very frustrating end to the weekend being involved in a racing incident with a few cars at Turn 1 on the first lap. There was not much we could do and the result was both cars had to retire with significant damage. Fortunately, I'm OK. Right now our focus is on regrouping and coming back stronger as we have another race next weekend in Belgium. We must move on quickly with the aim of heading into the summer break on a good note".


Pierre Gasly is frustrated:


"It's extremely frustrating for the entire team to have a double retirement, especially in such circumstances so early into the race. I was the unfortunate victim of a crash between a handful of cars and I just had nowhere to go and no chance of avoiding the incident. It's disappointing after making a good start off the line where I gained a couple of positions. As a team, we have to move on quickly and we have an immediate opportunity in Spa next weekend to make sure we enter the summer break with points".


Otmar Szafnauer, Alpine’s Team Principal, says that the important thing now is to focus on the next race:


"We're all very disappointed by today's race with both our cars on the receiving end of an unfortunate, lap one, turn one incident. There was a concertina effect with one car hitting another leading to our two cars coming together in an unavoidable circumstance. Right now, it's a bitter feeling for all of us, a tough one to take, but we must keep our heads down and bounce back. We have another race next weekend in Spa, the final one before the summer break, where we will work for better fortune and a stronger team result".


Mario Isola, Pirelli Motorsport Director, talks about the unpredictable qualifying and the hard conditions of the race:


"It was a very interesting weekend which saw a trial of a new tyre allocation format, as well as evaluating bringing a trio of compounds one step softer than in the past. As for the ATA, first and foremost, it should be pointed out that it will be trialled again at Monza this coming September, on a track with completely different characteristics to this one and the data will be analysed very carefully. Apart from that, I'd say the two salient points from this weekend were that yesterday's qualifying was more unpredictable than usual, because it presented the drivers with new challenges: the need to adapt quickly to the change of compound and the fact that having two sets of each compound for the race introduced greater flexibility in terms of strategy. The fact that all the drivers made two stops in very hot conditions with a track temperature that was 53 degrees at the start, with no high degradation problems confirms that the three compounds we chose to bring here were the right ones, given that four drivers even used the Soft for their first stint, showing that it was not out of the question to race with it. Now we come to the final round before the summer break, at Spa-Francorchamps, one of the most fascinating tracks on the calendar, with totally different characteristics to those of the Hungaroring, both in terms of its layout and when it comes to the sort of weather we can expect. Belgium will be the third round of the season to feature the Sprint format, which should ensure an even more exciting show".


Next race will be in two weeks, in Belgium, at Spa-Francorchamps, were drivers raced at the end of August the previous years. It will be the last race before the summer break.


©​ 2024 Osservatore Sportivo


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