The Hungarian Grand Prix marked the half way point in the season and as the sport heads into the four-week summer break it feels right that we use Budapest as the mark of reflection.
Going into the season, we wanted to see this fight between Mercedes and Ferrari – we have that. But, personally, I expected Ferrari to see them fade away. We did see that following Montreal, but the question is really is that because of the types of circuits we have been going to?
Baku, the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone were Mercedes circuits because they are high speed fast flowing circuits which suit the silver arrows very well. The Hungaroring historically in my view as I said last week, is a circuit has thrown up a surprise result and we had one again at the weekend.
Looking forward to part two, I feel the circuits are evenly matched. Mercedes will perform well in Spa, Monza, Sepang, Austin and Ferrari in Singapore, Suzuka, Interlagos and Abu Dhabi. This means for us that the fight will go down to the wire in Abu Dhabi in November.
But, we are over the half way mark now in the season and that means that the word reliability will come into the picture. Titles can as we arguably saw last season saw the title swing towards Nico Rosberg, with Sepang sticking in my mind as the defining point in the year.
Mercedes, while we are talking about Budapest, need praise for the way they released Hamilton to try and catch Kimi Raikkonen on track. We know he failed to make the move and he could have easily stayed there and took third.
We know that didn’t happen, as Hamilton released Bottas. For me, that shows that A. Hamilton is a racer and his eye is on the title but, B. he is fair and wants Bottas to achieve results as well. I don’t think Vettel would do that, stuck in my mind is ‘mutli 21’ with Mark Webber in Sepang in 2013.
Vettel and Hamilton, we have said many times are the greats of their generation. But they have great ‘unofficial’ wing men, with one being more clearly a number two driver.
But, this exposes may be strength for Ferrari and a weakness for Mercedes. Ferrari has always employed the number one and two drivers we know that. This gives them the edge slightly in terms of tactics but that costs us as viewers as we don’t see them fight hard.
Mercedes are employing the tactic; we will use team orders to give them an equal chance until one driver is out mathematical of the title race. Toto Wolff was questioned earlier this season about that and I think that is fair.
Mercedes know how Ferrari has operated in the past and they are not going down that route. They do use team orders as we saw in Budapest, I feel they had to give Hamilton the chance to try and catch Raikkonen as he was gaining on Bottas.
But, then Hamilton showed great sportsmanship when he honoured his word and I doubt Vettel would. Vettel for me watching him on track and the way he talks when things aren’t going his way seems self-centered and arrogant.
You need that as a world champion, the saying “Good guys don’t win titles” is true. All world champions are a bit self-centred and need it!
Red Bull should be part of this mega fight between Hamilton and Vettel. They still are on the back foot and need to up their game because they could play a key and deceive role in this title.
Budapest was not a good race for them as both Max Verstappen was fifth despite the collision with his teammate Daniel Ricciardo at Turn Two on the opening lap. But, in racing that happens and we know the number one rule in racing is don’t take your teammate out or make contact.
But that risk will always be there for the teams and especially if you aren’t imposing team-orders.
Looking ahead to the second half of the season, the question is how will this fight unfold and can the teams use the summer break to build an advantage which will see the title swing their way?